That’s essentially the question Erin McPike is asking about Ron Paul in an article recently posted on RealClearPolitics.
It seems that the impetus for this article came when she asked Paul if he actually wanted to be president, and “he shrugged and said, ‘Sure.’”
She also notes that in a speech on monetary policy sponsored by the Cato Institute, Paul stayed on topic and never mentioned he was running for president. “Even when his presidential rivals swoop into the nation’s capital for a speech,” she writes,
they tend to remind their audiences that they are running for president. It’s something most people in this position simply can’t stay quiet about. But more important, addressing a conference is an opening to get to more donors and support from activists or coalitions.
And yet, Paul didn’t emulate Mitt Romney, who likes to tell listeners he is running for nation’s highest office, perhaps so they can get used to the idea; or Rick Perry, who said he’ll bring what he did in Texas to Washington. Paul never asked for a vote, never asked for the support of the people in the room, and never talked about what his administration would do come 2013.
As a result, McPike is not sure that Paul actually wants to be president.
First of all, Paul is running for president because he is deeply committed to his ideas, and he knows that it gives him a high profile platform to educate the public. Even despite the media blackout. McPike seems to get this point. What she doesn’t get is that Paul wants to win. He just doesn’t want to win for the normal reasons. As Paul explains,
I don’t want to run your life, I don’t know how to run your life, and the Constitution doesn’t give me the authority to run your life.
Such a statement would be anathema to all the other candidates, who are running for president because they want power. That’s why Mitt Romney is so quick to change his position to match those of his audience. That’s why Herman Cain doesn’t bother to learn things about the world (the experts will tell him who the president of “Ubeki-beki-beki-stan-stan” is and he’ll be the supreme decider). And that’s why Newt Gingrich is as slimy and demagogic as ever.
What I think McPike is picking up on though, is Paul’s increasingly obvious frustration with the media who belittle, ridicule, and attack him. He’s sick of questions that are never asked of the other candidates, like, “Why do you want to be president?” But just because he’s tired of stupid questions like this (which is evident in his response that McPike included in her article) doesn’t mean that he is indifferent about becoming president.
It just means that he thinks a lot of reporters and pundits are assholes. He’d just never put it that way.