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Ron Paul’s undesired candidacy

John Sandberg | Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The GOP field currently features three presidential candidates who appear willing to do anything short of making a deal with the devil simply to be addressed as ‘Mr. President’ come 2013. But the fourth candidate seems fine with keeping the title ‘Dr. Paul.’ Just ask Ron Paul’s campaign chairman, Jesse Benton, whose words were featured in a September issue of Time Magazine:

“He does not have a great personal desire to be the President,” said Benton.

Come again?

Paul is a man with intellect, experience and the courage to present radical ideas in an environment full of empty rhetoric. But he should not be running for president.

Perhaps we need to take Mr. Benton’s quote in context. After all, it was published at a time when Paul’s closest competitor in the polls was Michele Bachmann and he was still trailing not only Mitt Romney, but Rick Perry as well. Maybe at the time he truly did not have the desire to be president, but it has since changed. Isn’t it funny how a tumultuous four months of polling and a strong showing in Iowa can suddenly make a man want to be leader of the free world?

It is more likely the case that Paul actually does not want to become the president. Benton’s quote did seem to be pretty cut and dry. Even now, with millions of dollars in campaign funds and resilient polling numbers, some maintain that his campaign is about ideas. There is the notion that the presidential election is Paul’s platform for spreading the message of minimized government, and any discussion on winning or losing is secondary.

All of this is enough to make many Americans crazy. We are talking about the presidency, the highest office in the land, a position that only a handful of people have known and some of the most extraordinary people have served. Sure, a few dim bulbs slipped into the White House over the years, but overall the institution has shown bright. So if someone lacks the burning desire to go after it with all that he or she has, or if there is even a shadow of a doubt about whether that desire will stay lit for eight challenging years, don’t run.

I, like the vast majority of Americans, also grow tired of watching candidates bash one another month after month. A primary battle filled with attacks and counterattacks — like we just saw take place in Florida — often reaffirms the reasons why so many people find politics entirely unattractive.

Say what you will about the personalities, policies and/or credibility of Romney, Gingrich and Santorum, but nobody can deny that they want the job. This alone anyone can appreciate, even if we don’t necessarily appreciate the distasteful ways in which they compete.

As far as “spreading a message” is concerned, why does Paul’s platform need to be the presidential election? Aside from the fact that he has already run for president twice before, Paul serves in the U.S. Congress and sits on the House Committees on Foreign Affairs and Financial Services, some influential stages in and of themselves.

And why must this campaign of ideas cost so much? More individuals donate personal money to Paul’s campaign than any other candidate’s. Given this, the grand promotion of ideas which we are seeing seems excessively expensive, and ironic, considering that the man at the center of the campaign has long been a crusader against excessive spending.

Paul has strong academic credentials, a history of military and governmental service and unflinching resolve in his beliefs on governmental policy. Not to mention he’s easily the most entertaining guy to watch in the Republican debates. For these things he should be applauded.

In a presidential election, however, these merits don’t mean a thing when some voters still aren’t convinced that you want the job.

John Sandberg is a sophomore political science major from Littleton, Colo. He is a fan of the Chicago Cubs, Dave Matthews Band and good Mexican food. He can be reached at jsandbe1@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.