It lost its founder, and it board of directors has been downsized dramatically under the new interim management. But the 31-year-old National Center for Policy Analysis—which was recently rocked by a sex scandal—appears to be soldiering on in defense of free markets. Friday, the Dallas-based think tank drew 200 people to the Omni hotel here for a luncheon address by libertarian maverick Ron Paul. The three-time presidential candidate was introduced by KSKY talk-show host Mark Davis, who failed to mention the group’s recent troubles, of course, but did contend, pointedly, that “this place has a magnificent future.”
Paul, for his part, delivered a well-received summary of his by-now-familiar anti-establishment views. The credo of the former nine-term Texas congressman is that less government is preferable, more liberty is best, and, if you want more liberty, you’ve got to shrink the size of government. He’s an optimist these days, he said, because his libertarian message is resonating with more people, and especially more young people. They like his opposition to harsh drug laws, special tax breaks for the wealthy, unconstitutional military interventions, and the D.C. lobbyist/politician “gravy train.” So, what to do? “Why not start with having members of Congress take their oath of office seriously?” Paul said.
After the talk, I asked him about a recent CNN.com report that Ralph Nader, the liberal consumer advocate, has been “pushing the idea of a left-right alliance,” perhaps under the leadership of Paul’s son, Rand, the Kentucky senator and possible GOP presidential candidate. Does Ron Paul think a left-right combination is a realistic prospect? “It’s the only thing available to us,” he replied. “The other coalition, the Republican/Democrat leadership that supports war, the Federal Reserve, deficits, the welfare state, and the NSA—that’s the coalition, and it is horrible. I want a coalition of people like myself that would agree with Dennis Kucinich that we should protect civil liberties and be anti-war. Look at the Constitution.
“What we need is some more honesty in Washington,” Paul went on. “When Bush was president, I opposed his efforts. So I’d be interviewed by somebody left on TV, and they said, ‘Yeah! Go ahead, go after him!’ And then as soon as Obama’s doing the same thing, then they come down hard on me and praise Obama. I can’t stand that. They’re just pure demagogues, because they’re dishonest with themselves.”
As for the NCPA, Davis, the talk-show host, concluded the Friday luncheon by saying the think tank would have a major announcement of some kind this week. Will it merge with another nonprofit? Name a new permanent CEO? For now, it’s anybody’s guess.