Last night, Ron Paul delivered a speech to over 4,000 people at Cornell’s Lynah Rink. Naturally, I was part of the audience – it’s not every day that a presidential candidate comes to Cornell and it’s even rarer that I don’t have any homework in the evening.

I have seen Ron Paul speak on several occasions, primarily at CPACs and the like. While I generally like his criticisms of the government (calling for the repeal of prohibition, sound monetary policy, holding politicians accountable, etc.) I’ve identified two things that make  Ron Paul difficult to agree with while he gives a speech:

  • Cadence. I can’t type the intonation of a Ron Paul speech, but I can certainly link a video to one and ask you to pay attention to the way his voice rises and falls in the course of every sentence. http://youtu.be/Lyppp_2GPa4. His delivery looks and feels almost physically taxing.
  • Ambiguity. Phrases you will only hear in a Ron Paul speech include: “Or whatever!” and “well, you know.” Granted, this is almost certainly the by-product of Ron Paul’s off-the-cuff style rather than a deficit of knowledge or willingness to get into specifics, but the use of sweeping generalizations cripple Paul’s points all too often. With respect to his points on civil liberties, I think more names and anecdotes would breathe life to Paul’s insistence that the FBI and CIA infringe on the comforts and rights of innocent persons.

I like Ron Paul. I generally agree with his ideas and I think he does a very important service to public discourse in the US. However, time and time again, I cringe when I hear him in person.

Historically, I’ve found it endearing that Paul comes off as “one of us” – those who don’t (and shouldn’t) speak publicly for a living. I suspect many people like his off-the-cuff style and libertarian shorthand, otherwise we probably wouldn’t know Ron Paul’s name. But, last night, this sense faded with the realization that this sense of endearment only extends to a receptive libertarian chorus; not a general public.