On several occasions over the past several months, we’ve seen Ron Paul in Congressional Committee hearings questioning men like Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke (see here, here, here, here, and here,), Obama economic adviser Paul Volcker, and, most recently, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.
Without fail, those encounters take the form of Paul spending two-thirds or more of his alloted five minutes espousing his own views on the subject of the hearing, and then throwing a question, sometimes a question that has little to do with the subject of the hearing itself to the official, usually without sufficient time for a real answer, never mind a follow-up question.
It makes for fun YouTube viewing, no doubt, and I’ve posted many of those encounters on my personal blog, but does it really accomplish anything ?
One libertarian blogger thinks not:
Another rambling, indirect, wasteful performance today by Ron Paul. He gets 5 minutes to question Geithner, and should have asked him about his comments to the CFR regarding the dollar, or any of the hundred other pressing issues of the day, but instead he has another ad lib ramble about innocent until proven guilty, which Geithner easily evades without saying anything meaningful.
[W]hen he gets a few minutes to challenge those in power, he turns into an ideologue and a wallflower and it is immensely frustrating.
Ron is not speaking to a friendly audience where he can deliver the same lines and stories over and over, but he’s there as an investigator and an interrogator.
I appreciate everything Ron Paul has exposed me to, and his personal sacrifices to further liberty, but it’s not hard to see how a guy can be punchless in the Congress for so long, when he just can’t ask a few direct questions, and insists upon going on and on about abstract moral and ethical issues that don’t even relate to the hearings.
What a wasted opportunity. And opportunities are so few they can’t be squandered so carelessly.
The post goes on to compare Paul’s questioning, unfavorably, to that of European Parliament Member Daniel Hannan, who became famous last week for delivering a devastating take-down of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
On some level, I think the comparison is unfair.
First, because Hannan was speaking speaking before the European Parliament during “question time”, not asking questions in a committee hearing (it would be more fair, then, to compair Hannan’s speech with one of Ron Paul’s speeches before the full house (see here, here, and here). Second, because, well, everything sounds better with a British accent; which is why you’ll never see James Bond played by an American actor.
That said, I think the blogger at No Treason has a point.
These Congressional Committee hearings are one of the few opportunities that the American public, through their elected representatives, has to confront the Executive Branch about what it is doing. Spending half, or more, of your allotted time on obscure philosophical arguments doesn’t really seem to me to accomplish much of anything.
The libertarian movement is in desperate need of spokesman that can not only explain it’s ideas to a wider public, but also to challenge those on the other side in a manner that actually gets the point across.
Ron Paul isn’t exactly the guy for the job.
H/T: Hit & Run