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What's Ron Paul up to?

Is Ron Paul ready for his close-up like the character Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, or will he prove to be a canny overseer of the U.S. Mint?

Tomorrow might just tell the tale.

At 10 a.m. Eastern Time Paul’s Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology will hold a hearing. The purpose of the hearing is to look into the question, “Bullion Coin Programs of the United States Mint: Can They Be Improved?”

Anybody who follows the bullion coin programs would answer yes to that question, and in fact one of the four witnesses starts his testimony by giving that answer.

But Raymond Nessim of Manfra, Tordella & Brookes, Inc., of New York City continues in the advance copy of his testimony posted on the subcommittee’s web page to raise an interesting question of his own.

“We are assuming that problems that may have promoted this hearing may be

"a) Current silver Eagle coin supply shortage in relation to unusual current high demand

"b) Circumstances surrounding distribution of the 2010 America the Beautiful ('ATB') five ounce silver bullion coin program

The fact that a witness at a congressional hearing doesn’t quite know the nature of the inquiry is curious.

It is made all the more so because of the four witnesses called to testify, absent will be the U.S. Mint.

You would think with such a topic, the U.S. Mint would be front and center, but it is not.

Even if the hearing goes sharply against the Mint, Paul seems to be violating the credo of the hanging judges of the Old West who at least kept up appearances when they said: “first we’ll give them a fair trial, then we’ll hang ‘em.”

So what is Chairman Paul up to?

We’ll see tomorrow.