A perusal of NRO commentary puts the Ron Paul campaign in perspective. It's acknowledged that he is reaching an audience that no else is. The question is, what is that audience?
On May 28, Jim Geraghty observes that "while supporters of the ten non-Ron-Paul GOP candidates tend to like at least some other Republican candidates besides their favorite, Ron Paul supporters only like Ron Paul." This kind of exclusivism is never a good thing. One senses that fans of Paul are so fixated on a few key points (opposition to the war and some far-reaching free-market views) that they can't see the forest for the trees.
On October 21, Geraghty says "with some begrudging admiration" that "Ron Paul is, like Howard Dean in 2004, the only candidate who could spawn a movement that will last beyond his candidacy." It sounds like a replay of Buchanan in 2000. Wouldn't it be better if Paul and his people were willing to work with other Republicans and push them in the right direction on certain issues? When they insist on being divisive (a tactic that favors the left in the long run) then I have to question their intentions.
On December 10, Jonah Goldberg refers to the militant optimism of Ron Paul supporters. They can't accept the fact that he won't win the presidency. It's a not a question of enthusiasm, it's a detachment from reality. Paul fans think their candidate's woes are the fault of a media conspiracy. This overlooks the fact that "Huckabee is much, much more popular than Ron Paul. And he got there with less money and, until recently, arguably less media exposure."
Finally, there is Mona Charen's article, "What Paul Is Running For." Now, unlike her, I admit that Paul's pro-life credentials (no small item these days) are impressive. Personally, the man appears impeccable. But he lacks political savvy. As Charen says:
Ron Paul is too cozy with kooks and conspiracy theorists. As syndicated radio host Michael Medved has pointed out, Ron Paul’s newspaper column was carried by the American Free Press (a parent publication of the Hitler-praising Barnes Review). Paul may not have been aware of this. But though invited by Medved to disavow any connection, Paul has so far failed to respond.
I've heard the same complaint from friends who are staunch social conservatives. When Paul's campaign received a contribution from notorious racist Don Black, Paul did nothing to distance himself from the fringe element.