The Ron Paul phenomenon is worth serious attention because in a campaign that is vapid and empty of substance, this guy is the real deal.

Please note: Rep. Paul (R-Texas) would cut or end many of the programs that serve the children, the poor and the seniors and turn those responsibilities over to the free market. Bad idea.

However: Ron Paul is a true libertarian and devout believer in the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution at a time when virtually no major candidate in either party speaks of these matters with conviction and Congress does not stand up like a lion in defense of them.

To Ron Paul, the Constitution is sacred. He does not do focus groups to determine his support for freedom.

It is entertaining and profound to watch Paul, a veteran, speak in these debates against a disastrous war policy, standing near candidates competing for who can start the most new unwise wars, being hissed at by angry audiences ready to send others to die and ready to throw out long-held constitutional values.

Of course, the national political reporters don't have a clue about him. They are forced to report about him because he raises more money than Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). The issue they should be reporting is why so many people give money to a candidate because of what he stands for, and believes in, even when they disagree with many things he says.

Then again, the media treat Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Joseph Biden (D-Del.) and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) as though they don't exist even though all three have earned the right, through experience and achievement, to be heard. Yet they have not been heard, from day one until today.

It will be interesting to watch whether Ron Paul ends up running as a third-party libertarian candidate, in which case he will win enough support to affect the outcome, forcing the national press to pay attention to him.

Agree with him or not, let's tip our hat to Ron Paul, a great voice of authenticity, integrity and ideas, which are all, sadly, in short supply in American politics today.