WASHINGTON – Ron Paul and his supporters gripe that the media do not give his campaign the attention it deserves.
OK, let’s focus on his animated diversions in last Wednesday night’s Republican debate.
He seemed to advocate a new system of silver coinage, just like the one we had in the 18th century: “I can get you a gallon of gasoline for a dime. … You can buy a gallon of gasoline today for a silver dime. A silver dime is worth $3.50. It’s all about inflation and too many regulations.”
Paul blamed the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, not on al-Qaida but on “too much government.” You see, government “told the pilots they couldn’t have guns, and they were told never to resist. They set up the stage for all this.”
At least he didn’t repeat his previous view that radical Islamist terrorism results from “our invasion of their land.”
He repeated the urban myth that the U.S. military is spending “$20 billion a year for air conditioning in Afghanistan and Iraq in the tents over there and all the air conditioning [sic],” suggesting that saving that money is yet another reason to get our troops out immediately.
This dubious figure originated with a former U.S. logistics officer in Iraq now in business selling energy-conservation equipment to the Pentagon.
The officer derived the number, which the Pentagon disputes, by including all the expenses of the entire logistics chain — roads, etc. — that carries fuel needed to run the air conditioners, as well as lots of other stuff for the troops, too.
Least comprehensible of all, Paul suggested that a border fence intended to keep illegal immigrants out “may well be used against us and keep us in. In economic turmoil, the people want to leave with their capital. And there’s capital controls and there’s people control.”
I’m grabbing my silver dimes and heading for Mexico — don’t fence me in!
According to Gallup, Paul is in a statistical dead heat with President Obama. That’s right: When it comes to their choice for president in 2012, Americans are equally divided between the incumbent and this rambling, ultra-libertarian gold bug.
This must be a measurement of Obama’s political weakness, because it cannot possibly reflect widespread support for Paul’s loopy ideas.
Charles Lane is a member of The Post’s editorial page staff.