Lots of debate about Ron Paul over at Marginal Revolution (see both the in-post links and the comments). The main question is whether Paul’s advocacy of the gold standard makes him a kook. I’m not much of a macroeconomist, so I tend to bow to my betters on this one. I’m naturally suspicious of having a government agency in charge of the money supply; but when a libertarian like Tyler Cowen says the gold standard is a bad idea, I’m not inclined to argue that vigorously. (On the other hand, I also trust the judgment of Steve Horwitz, a macroeconomist who is somewhat more friendly to Paul’s anti-Fed position.)
But is a debate about the Fed really relevant to the question of whether Ron Paul would make a good president? Every candidate has at least one crazy idea. I suggest we should not judge a candidate by his kookiest position, but by his kookiest position that actually stands a chance of implementation. It’s just not plausible that the Fed would be dismantled under a Paul administration. The President cannot unilaterally do such a thing; it would require the cooperation of a Congress that, realistically, would never agree.
What the President can do, with frighteningly little interference from Congress, is shape our foreign policy by (for instance) deciding whether to embroil us in lengthy and costly military adventures. The President can also dramatically affect the behavior of the Justice Department, especially with regard to the expansion of executive power at the expense of civil liberties. On both these fronts, I would trust Paul more than any other candidate, hands down.