David Weigel is a very good writer and I would recommend his work to just about anyone, but I have to disagree with the tone and tenor of his piece on Ron Paul’s supposed influence in the House GOP caucus. Noting that “a few members of Congress—as many as 10, sometimes fewer” gather “from time to time” to listen to a talk by an expert Paul promotes, Weigel concludes that “[m]ore Republicans have started listening” to Paul. Perhaps, strictly speaking, “more” have, but when it comes to exercising influence in the House GOP caucus, Paul had nowhere to go but up. As an iconoclast in the caucus, Paul generally attracted amusement and quizzical interest, but never commanded a following. He has a few more people paying attention now, but just as one swallow does not a summer make, “10, sometimes fewer” House GOP members at a luncheon does not a Libertarian Boss Tweed make either.
Weigel is quite right to suggest that the GOP is looking for a unifying leader, and to be sure, Paul has recognized an opportunity to step into the vacuum. However, the fact that Michele Bachmann asks Tim Geithner some questions inspired by luncheons Paul has thrown does not indicate that Paul is some kind of seminal leader-to-be of the GOP. There are a lot of people whose leadership profiles have grown as a consequence of the most recent election and the void it has left at the top of the Republican hierarchy; Eric Cantor, Mitch McConnell, Tom Coburn, Jon Huntsman, Bobby Jindal, and Mitt Romney, just to name a few. Each of them commands more attention and interest than Paul does.
I suppose that the possibility does exist–theoretically–that the House GOP will mass-convert to the Austrian School of Economics. I just don’t see it, however. Ron Paul is more a passing fad than he is a voice of the future.