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This is not meant to be criticism of Paul, although it is criticism of Leno. Paul was treated like a rock star and had the softest of softball questions, ones it would seem he wrote himself. There were literally no challenging questions—nothing, for example, about the newsletters.

Paul was positively giddy basking in the adulation of repeated loud rounds of applause. He didn’t seem presidential, but he did deliver one effective soundbite after another. So he bolstered his credentials as a protest candidate.

He was portrayed in a way appealing to young libertarian types—government gets out of the foreign aid, drug regulation, and marriage businesses. Jay did not ask a follow-up question on the downside of making marriage a merely private matter—a position not favored, afer all, by either proponents of same-sex marriage or any social conservative.

Paul was allowed to mention briefly that he was for both life and liberty without having to say he was for laws outlawing abortion—a line that wouldn’t have brought a cheer from the New York crowd. Jay allowed him, in other words, to get away with having it both ways.

Paul spoke well of Huntsman at Jay’s urging but dissed all the other Republican candidates, saying that Bachmann hates Muslims and Santorum gays and Muslims.

He got really big applause when he said that the claim the Iran is close to developing a nuclear weapon is mere propaganda. He denied, in fact, that that was the nation’s intention at all. Again, no follow-up.

So all in all, it appears that while Paul is not the candidate of the Republican establishment he has become the candidate of the MSM.

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