The Ron Paul argument
Let's take the Ron Paul bull by the horns. I like the fellow: I have just been watching him clashing with the Chairman of the Fed, Ben Bernanke. He made, as he often does, a kind of "emperor's new clothes" case; arguing that US interest rates have been artificially low for many years, the result of which has been to debauch the currency and store up future crises in the US economy.
Ben Bernanke pointed out that a worker paid in dollars and spending in dollars does not suffer from a fall in the dollar's price abroad (unless he buys imported goods) but in a sense he and the congressman were not addressing the same subject; Ron Paul talks very big picture. And his voice is an interesting one. (In case anyone hasn't heard of him we are talking about the libertarian Republican candidate, who is best known as the sole Republican opponent of the Iraq war.)
To me he is a wonderful reminder of the intellectual freedom that persists in American politics in spite of the deadening effect of money. I have written before about the need for those of us with claims to impartiality to treat those the parties regard as fringe candidates seriously; it is not for us to attack or defend, but to report and analyse.
But there is a risk, isn't there, that the voices backing these candidates become shrill, and annoy those they ought to be courting. Have we reached that stage? Not for me to say, of course...