Ron Paul is a crank, a scold and his economic ideas are daft. That he has a growing number of fellow travelers in Congress is no more a testament to the power of his ideas than the growing numbers of anti-vaccination nutters are a testament to the intellect of Jenny McCarthy. Economic libertarianism–the Ron Paul/Koch/Gary Johnson variety–is for those who want to exploit the rubes for their own profit or for the rubes who can’t handle ambiguity, don’t do well with emotional complexity, and are immune to any knowledge of history. Ron Paul is the embodiment of contemporary American economic libertarianism: humorless, constantly prattling on about the gold standard and the federal reserve, and able to offer an explanation of everything in American politics that leads back to a neat and complete explanation of how taxes are evil and government is tyranny.
Plenty have written about Paul’s ideology and his political career. But what has long fascinated me about this peculiar, humorless man is what he did before entering elective office: he was an OB/GYN.
I don’t expect my doctors to share my political beliefs. But I do want my doctor to, you know, not be a weirdo. How did Ron Paul practice medicine? Did he only take payments in gold? Did he fulminate about the Federal Reserve during a gynecological exam? Did he prattle on about Atlas Shrugged before handing the mother her newborn?
I can’t imagine Ron Paul delivering my daughter or son, not because he doesn’t share my political beliefs, but because his political beliefs and the vehement monomania he exhibits in proselytizing those beliefs makes me doubt that he possesses the empathy, bedside manner and ability to recognize and participate in the intense emotions that one would want in a doctor you entrust with your gynecological care and the delivery of your child.