I have aimed for the blandest headline here possible, knowing that the subject of Ron Paul is one of those things that at times makes supporters and detractors unhinged. Over on the Member Feed, there's some intelligent back and forth on the rules change that have so upset the Ron Paul people are upset by, and in today's Wall Street Journal my colleague Steve Moore says that pushing the change now was a ham-fisted move that was unnecessary.
My own take is simple. I sympathize with quite a bit of Ron Paul's economic argument, not to mention his pro-life stand on abortion. In this regard, I believe him a healthy influence on the GOP (his foreign policy, on the other hand ...). That said, I also believe the Republican Party is thoroughly within its rights to deny him a speaking slot. As much as Ron Paul might suggest he owes the GOP nothing, the opposite is true. He did not gather a national following simply because many find his views admirable; he got it, in good part, because he has been given the stage of Republican debates that allowed him to present those views to a much larger swath of the nation than had he been a member of, say, the Libertarian Party. He seems, however, to want it both ways: to compete as a Republican when that benefits him, but to jettison the team when he fails to win. On Fox News this week, he stated that he remains undecided.
I therefore do not understand why it is unfair for Republicans to insist that anyone who speaks at the Republican National Convention be clear and explicit about his or her support for the Republican nominee. Organizations have the right to set their own rules. It may be politically unwise to insist on them at this moment, as Steve suggests, given what Mr. Paul's supporters might be inclined to do, but that is another story. Surely no one doubts that even without this contentious rule change Mr. Paul would still have withheld his support for his party's nominee.