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The Good Ron Paul Could Do

Shocking title for a post on this blog, I know. But I just read that Ron Paul is giving his celeb endorsement and his insanely massive donor list to House candidates like North Carolina's Walter Jones, an antiwar Republican whose Hester Prynne-like shunning by the party has left him struggling to win his primary.

Jones is an odd duck--before his road to Damascus on Iraq, he was the guy behind "freedom fries"!--but he's also, as of now, pretty much the Democrats' only ally on Iraq in the bewilderingly, depressingly partisan House. And he's really a serious ally to boot, cosponsoring liberal war legislation and penning personal letters to the families of every soldier killed in Iraq. I don't want to see him go. If Ron Paul is the means to that end, so be it.

Think about it: Ron Paul has $6 million still on hand--the exact same amount as the National Republican Congressional Committee has. He has no debt to zero out. And he obviously tapped a very real, very big vein of dissatisfaction within the Republican Party, even if his own crackpot views meant he personally couldn't get anywhere in the polls.

What if he forgot about the gold standard stuff for a while and devoted himself to building up the dwindling antiwar Republican coalition in the House? His money could go a long way promoting legit antiwar candidates in cheap House races, where visibility--imagine $6 million worth of yard signs--is everything. He could be powerful: A bigger, more empowered antiwar Republican faction in the House would help undermine House Republicans' creepy message discipline on Iraq and encourage more defections.

Jamie and others have persuaded me Ron Paul's a racist. But when, say, a criminal volunteers to plant trees as part of his community service requirement, do environmental groups reject those trees because they came from a nasty individual? The situation's not totally analogous, obviously, but I wouldn't blame a struggling antiwar Republican from taking Paul's help. Even Ron Paul can still serve humanity.

--Eve Fairbanks