THE ODD APPEAL OF RON PAUL.
As Dana says, it's a bit hard to square the immense affection Ron Paul receives from putative civil libertarians with his intensely restrictive attitude towards such issues as whether a woman will be forced to use her body as a vessel for childbearing. But, as Peter Suderman argues, it's probably a mistake to focus too intensely on policy when trying to evaluate the appeal of Paul. Rather, Paul provides a home for those who feel alienated, misled, lied to, and marginalized by mainstream politics. As one of my commenters said, "It's like he's quietly amassing and army of outcasts from the Perot and Nader campaigns." Add in outcasts from whomever the Libertarian party tends to run and I think you've got a pretty good sense of the coalition.
With Paul, the positions aren't the point. His candidacy is tonal, aesthetic in nature. It's a movement united behind Howard Beale: They're mad as hell at politics, and not going to take it anymore. The force of that statement is far more important than whether Beale's political opinions or likely comportment in office precisely match up with what his supporters would desire. Paul's candidacy is an indictment of the system, not an argument for who would best administer it.