Gingrich vs. Paul?

Ron Paul, right, claps for Newt Gingrich, left, during the Republican debate on Dec. 10, 2011, in Des Moines, Iowa.David Weigel notes the surrealism of the fact that Ron Paul is polling in the low twenties in Iowa. Joel Achenbach at the Washington Post unsuccessfully attempts to make him unappealing:

Paul is the Alternative Candidate, someone who subscribes to an alternative history of the world. Paul believes that powerful and secretive forces (the Fed being the best example) have manipulated human events and bankrolled wars. He fears that the nation is turning into an Orwellian police state. (“Sometimes it seems as if we are living in a dystopian novel like ‘1984’ or ‘Brave New World,’ ” he writes in his most recent book.)

Maybe he knows who really killed JFK.

Ross Douthat paints a Dickensian contrast between Paul and another Iowa frontrunner:

Should Iowa really come down to Paul versus Gingrich, the clash will make for a fascinating contrast. Physically, neither man resembles a classic presidential candidate (especially compared to Romney and Perry) but for completely different reasons. Paul is all bone and sinew and nervous energy – an Ichabod Crane or a Jack Sprat, hunched and herky-jerky in too-large suits. Gingrich is broad and self-assured and faintly decadent, with a Cheshire Cat’s face and a body that looks like it’s ready for its toga.

Neither man talks like a typical presidential candidate, either: They’re more verbose, less sound bite-ridden, more digressive and less embarrassed about displaying erudition. But again, their specific rhetorical styles are worlds apart. It’s useful to imagine both of them as the kind of eccentric uncle who talks your ear off at a Christmas party. Uncle Newt has an easygoing and expansive mien, the latest gadget on his belt, and a remarkably persuasive five-point case for why you should invest in his new business venture. Uncle Ron just wants to hector you about the evils of the Trilateral Commission.

Honestly, it’s been hard to get excited about Ron Paul in this election cycle because he seemed so unlikely to win. There’s been so little coverage of his campaign that I occasionally forgot he was running. But now he’s been the frontrunner in every single poll but one that’s come out of Iowa in the last week. Almost seems too good to be true: a candidate of principles who’s radically devoted to fiscal sanity, peace, freedom from creeping totalitarianism, and the protection of life.

If he wins, they’ll have to kill him!

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