Douthat: Ron Paul, Iowa Contender

Now that Ron Paul is within 1 percentage point of frontrunner Newt Gingrich in the Iowa polls, it's not crazy to imagine a real showdown happening. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat sets the stage with a pair of evocative characterizations: "Paul is all bone and sinew and nervous energy—an Ichabod Crane or a Jack Sprat, hunched and herky-jerky in too-large suits. Gingrich is broad and self-assured and faintly decadent, with a Cheshire Cat’s face and a body that looks like it’s ready for its toga." Paul has certain advantages in Iowa's unusual caucus structure, and a victory would deliver the GOP nomination "gift-wrapped to Mitt Romney."