Friday, August 21, 2015

Ron Paul on Swords Into Plowshares

-Lucy Steigerwald
The most surprising thing about former Congressman Ron Paul’s (R-TX) new Swords Into Plowshares is how long it took for Paul to devote an entire book to the topic of war. The Pittsburgh-born doctor who initially focused on monetary policy – the reason, in fact, for his first run for Congress – became more and more staunchly opposed to aggressive wars during his more than two decades in the House of Representatives. From his yes vote for the impeachment of Bill Clinton over bombing of Iraq, not adultry, to his rants against the war-on-terror during the 2008 and 2012 GOP debate season, Paul became less and less coy about his dislike of what he calls American empire over the years.

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Now Paul, 79, is mostly out of the political spotlight. He will never be president, and he says running for Congress again wouldn’t solve the country’s problems. He has his Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, and an Internet show.

He also has his son Rand, who is one of a comically large crop of Republicans vying for the nomination. Convention wisdom and polls both say Rand is in a slump, both it seems in terms of pure numbers and in terms of ideological support. The young eye doctor is neither good party fish nor radical, antiwar fowl, and so he is reduced to vainly insulting Donald Trump for attention. Now, on August 14 – after this interview took place – word appeared that Paul had finally officially endorsed Jr. Whether that will help or hurt Rand up for debate, but it unfortunately may be confirmation for people who assume Rand still can’t make up his mind about how much of a chip off the old block he wants to be.

I called up the elder Paul last month to ask about the new book, about war, and a little about his son. His Pittsburgh “Yinzer” accent was in full effect. He was friendly and grandfatherly, and even referenced one of my headlines. (Yes, that was flattering!) He even said to say hi to my father, who interviewed him years before the doctor had a “revolution” of any kind. And finally, after all my questions had been exhausted, Paul turned things around and said “you asked me about Rand. What about your and your dad? Do you have 100 percent agreements?”

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.