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December 17. 2011 10:28PM

Renegade Ron: Paul is a gadfly, not a contender

For New Hampshire primary voters who thought a vote for Ron Paul might be a vote for clear, reasoned conservatism, Thursday night’s debate in Iowa should have disabused that notion.

Paul has perfected the art of delivering applause lines to Republican voters sick of seeing their party squander money on big-government boondoggles, pork-barrel giveaways and questionable national security initiatives. Often, his criticisms hit their mark. But let him keep talking and eventually he reveals that his thoughts on some of the most important issues of the day are less than serious.

On foreign policy, Paul makes heads nod by lamenting that Congress has ceded too much power to the President. Then he says that all foreign military bases should be closed, no matter their strategic importance, and that the United States is and always has been the aggressor in the War on Terrorism.

Thursday night he said “to declare war on 1.2 billion Muslims and say all Muslims are the same, this is dangerous talk. Yeah, there are some radicals. But they don’t come here to kill us because we’re free and prosperous. Do they go to Switzerland and Sweden? That is absurd.”

Actually, three Islamists from Somalia and Iraq were arrested this year in Sweden. They are charged with plotting to kill Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who in 2007 drew a cartoon depicting Mohammed.

Last December, Taimour Abdulwahab, an Iraqi-born Swedish national, tried to detonate a car bomb in Stockholm.

He went to Syria and Iraq in 2007 and 2009, telling his family, “I went for jihad.”

“They come here and explicitly explain it to us,” Paul claimed. “The CIA has explained it to us. It said they come here and they want to do us harm because we are bombing them!”

Paul is so deluded by his orthodoxy that he refuses to see the serious threat posed to this country by radical Islamists, including the ones who control the government of Iran.

On domestic policy, he makes sweeping promises he knows he cannot keep.

He says he’ll cut $1 trillion in spending in the first year of his presidency, in part by abolishing five Cabinet departments. But when we pressed him on this point in an interview, he acknowledged that he would keep many of these departments’ functions. And of course, there is no way he could get such cuts through Congress in less than a year.

Paul has some good points about federal spending and has been consistently pro-life. As a presidential candidate, he has been useful in pulling others toward the smaller-government end of the Republican spectrum. But as a contender for the presidency, he simply is not credible.

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