Now Playing at Reason.tv: Dirty Tricks as the Grand Tradition of American Politics, featuring Roger Stone

On November 28, reason sat down for a discussion with one of the masters of the dark arts of politics, Roger Stone. Many people in Washington, D.C. talk about "hardball politics," but no one has done so with as much skill, creativity, flair, and stomach-turning dedication as veteran political strategist and dirty tricks expert Roger Stone.

Beginning with his first disinformation campaign in grade school (ironically, aimed at his later idol, Richard Milhous Nixon), Stone learned the ropes as a teenager at Nixon's Committee to Re-Elect the President (C.R.E.E.P.) and has spent the last 30 years in the political shadows, playing a major role in the "Brooks Brothers Riot" during the 2000 Florida recount and waging a highly public ongoing battle with Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D-N.Y.). As a battle-hardened and scandal-heavy veteran of eight national presidential campaigns, Stone understands the skulduggery and strategems of the modern political campaign like no one else. That's one reason he was dubbed "a grotesque" by reason's Nick Gillespie in The Washington Post: Stone lays open all the grimy and gritty machinations through which politicians work the system--and voters--to gain power.

What he has to say will keep you on the edge of your seat--especially if you lay awake at night wondering how some of the bums that govern us manage to sneak into office in the first place.

To watch Stone's comments, just click on the image above or go here.

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  • Eric Dondero||

    I'd like to see less Roger Stone and more Anne Stone. Whatever became of the Republicans for Choice leader Ms. Stone? Roger's ex-wife. She's been totally shuffled off the stage.

    I suspect Pro-Lifers from the Huckabee camp to the Ron Paulists have conspired to silence her, as they are doing to all Pro-Choice Republicans.

    Notice how Pro-Choice used to be a top priority for the libertarian movement? Remember that GREAT bumper sticker the Libertarian Party used to offer, "Libertarians; We're Pro-Choice on Everything."

    Now, with the ascendance of Pro-Life extremist Ron Paul, it's politically incorrect, even within LP circles to be Pro-Choice.

    Anne, we need you to push your husband aside and get back on the Cable TV News shows and carry the banner for Pro-Choice Republicans, AND to win back the libertarian movement too for Pro-Choice!

  • ||

    I love Gillespie's T-shirt! Where can I get one of those?

  • Guy Montag||

    You guys must be kidding me. Is that a collection of typos up there indicating that Republicans have been on the receiving end of dirty tricks? This must be some mistake. Everybody knows that Democrats and RINOs are the only victims of this bad play!

  • Rimfax||

    Holy shit, Dondero, you express a sentiment with which I have significant agreement and you still manage to be irritating. Assume bad faith much?

    You ever wonder why so many Pro-Lifers are so energetically active in a movement that is so overwhelmingly Pro-Choice? Do you think that they have actually deluded themselves into believing that they've actually hijacked all of our votes so they can jail all them "baby killers"? They think that the issue of abortion is best dealt with at the lowest jurisdictional level, like the rest of think about just about everything.

    It's no wonder that Paul fired you. It's the same reason that Jacob Hornberger didn't get the VA LP governor's nomination several years back. He saw bad faith everywhere, especially inside the LP. He was right about Browne, but he aggressively accused many others who had absolutely nothing to do with Browne's activities.

  • ||

    Dirties trick ever: the Bush push-poll on McCain's "interracial baby" in SC.
    Hey, I agree with Donderdo here.

  • VM||

    Hay Rimfax!

    didja see Hornberger's critique of Brian's book?

  • nebby||

    MNG

    Urban legends die hard.

    You do realize there is no evidence whatsoever to support the idea that the SC "push poll" allegations you are referring to ever actually occurred, much less were connected to the Bush campaign?

    If you know of any recordings, sworn testimony or statements, or any other support for the idea that these allegations are true please share.

  • TabooRealities||

    Dirty politics explained: infiltrate your opponents camp and get THEM to disseminate energy deflating ideas, like their candidate's chances are nonexistent.

  • ||

    I love Gillespie's T-shirt! Where can I get one of those?
    I love Gillespie's bravery to sport a Pete Rose-esque hair cut in public.

  • ||

    Weren't Stone and his wife at the center of some DC-swinger sex scandal in the 90s?

  • Eric Dondero||

    Hey guys, check out my new totally masturbatory political website!

    http://www.geocities.com/modern_cincinnatus/

  • ||

    Hey guys, check out my new totally masturbatory political website!

    http://www.geocities.com/modern_cincinnatus/


    That's a win for the year...

  • Guy Montag||

    nebby,

    Ditto!

    If ANYBODY thinks that anything after the first Carter campaing 'counts' as a dirty trick they need their head examined.

    Same with anything outside of a Kennedy or Johnson campaign.

  • Brandybuck||

    In Dondero's world, libertarianism is about killing. Killing babies, killing Muslins, same thing. Just as long as they're killed. As he says above, this is the core of the philosophy.

  • ||

    @Brandybuck

    In Dondero's world, libertarianism is about killing. Killing babies, killing Muslins, same thing. Just as long as they're killed. As he says above, this is the core of the philosophy.

    You noticed that too, eh? Well, nobody has a trademark on "libertarian"; anyone can call themselves one. But I think he's mostly an example of what's known as a "pro-death Republican".

  • Jerry||

    Why is abortion still an issue today? I can support a pro-life politician because it is expedient to do so because of his other political positions. A means to an end. I feel sorry for those who sincerely believe in voting for pro-life politicians because they actually think the candidate can alter the status quo.

  • Guy Montag||

    OT: Fred is being interviewed by Chris Wallace on FNN right now.

  • Guy Montag||

    I am still lost on how killing babies is supported by the people who say they try to protect the people who can not protect themselves. They seem to use it as a bumper sticker or martini chat rather than anything they believe in for real.

    They seem to do it for a lot of other things too, like supporting unions that are impossible to join or supporting government jobs that are difficult for regular working folks to get.

    If it is okay to kill helpless beings, why is Michel Vick in jail?

  • ||

    Dondero, you are even stupider than I thought.

    Ann Stone ?????

    To prove we have seen more than enough of Ann Stone, forever, I have one name to throw at you.

    Janet Rzewnicki.

    Those familiar with Delaware politics might remember when this pro choice woman was a rising star in the GOP there. Googling her name, the first entry I found was a Wikipedia entry about Tom Carper, which contained this paragraph about his reelection as Governor.

    "Running for a second term in 1996 he faced Republican State Treasurer Janet C. Rzewnicki. Knowing that she needed a major issue to have a chance of defeating him, she repeated the mistake made by Thomas B. Evans, Jr. in Carper's first race for the U. S. House of Representatives. Three weeks before the election Ann Stone, the chairwoman of the Republicans for Choice, came to Wilmington and repeated rumors she had heard of divorce proceedings, domestic violence, and secret court filings. These were immediately and emphatically refuted by Carper's wife, Martha, and her employer, the DuPont Company. In an extraordinary intervention, the Chief Judge of Family Court, Vincent J. Poppiti, wrote in a formal order, that "there have been no filings at any time...regarding the marriage of...Carper." Even the Republican state chairman, Basil Battaglia weighed in, saying, "This is not the way we do politics in Delaware." Carper won the election in a landslide, and Rzewnicki was ousted from her position as State Treasurer two years later, when her term expired."

    Ann Stone is the first person who comes to my mind when I think of the phrase "Lord Protect me from my friends."

    You can have her, and Giuliani. Just don't try promoting either of them to libertarians.

  • ||

    I was always partial to the guys who put McGovern bumper stickers on their cars and then drove around cutting off folks.

    In fact, now I am thinking of covering up my Ron Paul bumper sticker with one for Rudy and then starting to drive like a mad man.

  • M||

    James B., be sure to add a fish on the other bumper. I'm told that sways elections.

  • MCW||

    Dondero is just a wacked-out wingnut but he does make good points about even nuttier wingnut Ron Paul.

  • Brandybuck||

    I do not want to stoop to Dondero's level and declare that a specific opinion on abortion to be a litmus test of libertarianism. That's stupid. However, I do want to make people aware of the libertarian philosophical arguments against abortion. Libertarians for Life has been making these arguments for decades. Ron Paul isn't alone in being a pro-life libertarian, he is but one of thousands. And this goes beyond merely abortion, but to the rights of the born child as well.

    Libertarians for Life's positions

    Libertarianism affirms the central, inalienable right of all persons to be free from aggression (the initiation of force or fraud). Nonaggression belongs in every code of morality. LFL also affirms that from conception to death, we are persons with the right not to be killed. The killing of an innocent person, as in abortion, violates this right.

    LFL further affirms that, under libertarian principles, parents owe their dependent children, born and preborn, care and protection from harm. Even if abortion were merely a case of "abandonment" or eviction, as some wish to rationalize it, it would still be wrongful death.

    Dependent children are like "captives" of their parents, for they are in the parents' control. This is not voluntary for the children, but it is for the parents. Therefore, when parents choose not to provide care and the children get harmed, the parents have initiated force, and they are accountable.

    Abortion, then, violates two rights of children: the right not to be killed, and the right to parental care and protection. Even when pregnancy is due to rape, both parents still have the general obligation not to kill or further endanger their innocent preborn child.

  • ||

    I love Gillespie's T-shirt! Where can I get one of those?

    I don't where NG got his, but you find out where to make one yourself by typing "custom t-shirt" into any Internet Oracle of your choice.

    I'd go for an "Iken" t-shirt mimicking the Nike logo, but I have no graphic arts talent.

  • Zooter||

    NEW YORK - Messages and wishes for the new year from people around the world will float down on the New Year's Eve revelers in Times Square when the confetti is dropped.
    For the first time, anyone can get a message printed on a piece of the multicolored confetti by visiting the Times Square Information Center or by using the Internet to type a message on a Wishing Wall Online.

    Mine said "Vote Ron Paul" - will yours?

  • penxv||

    Paul is really underestimated. If people are writing about him on the internet, they are also talking about him in their daily lives as well.

    Word of mouth is the most potent advertising. It has so much more weight than that guy realizes.

  • SxCx||

    Even when pregnancy is due to rape, both parents still have the general obligation not to kill or further endanger their innocent preborn child.

    ...and this is where they lose me.

    I'm going to be bold and potentially un-libertarian in declaring that even if abortion is indeed murder, performing one in the case of rape is one of the few occasions where it's justified, if anything as a form of self-defense.

    I can understand the pro-life sympathy, but can't understand cases where one's allegiance is tied to a rapist's unborn, rather than the woman he made a victim.

  • SxCx||

    Honestly, are there men here with such moral purity that if pulled into a dark alley and coercively injected with a substance that caused a human embryo to gestate inside of them until it reached maturity, would simply shrug and start shopping for a high chair?

  • Guy Montag||

    Ultimate dirty trick: Bhutto death a warning to USAian female candidates from Mr. Cheney.

    Tomorrow's conspiracy theories today!

  • ||

    A couple of points:

    1. Is there anywhere I can get the audio of this presentation? I checked out the podcast page and didn't see anything recent there. I have a lot of time to listen to mp3 material during my daily commute, and would appreciate being able to enjoy the audio track as I head to or from work some time in the near future.

    2. How did Dondero ever get the idea that Ron Paul's popularity has made it no longer PC in libertarian circles to be pro-choice? Just speaking for myself as a libertarian, I'm not going to knock Paul for his convictions about human life (he is a doctor -- an OB/GYN -- after all!), or his perfectly libertarian belief that one of the few reasons to have a government is to protect human life. I don't share his opposition to Roe v. Wade, although I do applaud his desire to remove the issue of personhood from the domain of the Federal government.

    We recoil from the idea that the Federal government (most commonly in the form of the President and his minions) can declare someone an "enemy combatant" and then proceed to violate their human rights with impunity. I think that outrage will pale into insignificance, if ever the decision of who is or is not a "person with rights" is ever solidly established as a Federal power. That seems to be what must ultimately occur, assuming that abortion continues to be a Federal concern. Regardless of his motives, I think Paul is right to devolve this decision back down to the States, but I think he goes too far in wanting to overturn Roe, which is also extremely valuable for the "zone of privacy" (i.e., zone of liberty) that it establishes.

    What I have always wondered is this: if a zone of privacy exists under Roe, within which something as serious as the termination of an embryonic or fetal human life can occur at the individual's discretion, why does that zone not protect against, say, federal or state penalty for the the cultivation/manufacture and use of controlled substances? The law seems fatally inconsistent in this and several other noteworthy scenarios. I would like to start seeing other decisions concerning privacy rights start citing Roe, so that eventually the "inconsistent scenarios" can be reconciled on the side of individual privacy and the "presumption of liberty."

  • ||

    SxCx wrote, "I can understand the pro-life sympathy, but can't understand cases where one's allegiance is tied to a rapist's unborn, rather than the woman he made a victim."

    Are you saying the "rapist's unborn" is a "demon seed" that needs killin'?

    What you do not seem to be accounting for is that the rapist creates TWO victims. The unborn child is also an innocent victim, even should it survive to birth and beyond: being unwanted and a constant reminder to the mother of her violation will make for a hard life for the child. Life may also be hard if the child is given up for adoption, or raised in an orphanage or in the foster care system. The fault for all of this lies at the rapist's feet.

    The only question is whether the raped woman will assume the additional role of malefactor (toward the fetus) or will remain as victim (of the rapist) only. The woman escapes being a malefactor in cases of accident, or if we presume that the life growing within is not human, or at least not a person(ality) with rights. The latter tack seems to have been taken by the school of Roe v. Wade, but someone like Ron Paul, for instance, cannot dismiss the experience of his OB/GYN medical practice, or his physician's oath to preserve life and "first, do no harm." He cannot see his way clear to declare an unborn child as a non-person. I can respect that position, although I personally believe that the decision to continue with or terminate a pregnancy must be left up to the woman in question. That doesn't mean that I am OK with ending human life, only that I don't think one's neighbors or one's government should have a say in this particular decision. I think that the pain involved in deciding to have an abortion, and living with it for years afterward, basically forever, is potentially more punishing than any societal or governmental sanction, so I don't see why the law needs to get its own licks in, too.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I'd go for an "Iken" t-shirt mimicking the Nike logo, but I have no graphic arts talent.



    You don't really need any graphics arts talent. That would take about 2 minutes in Photoshop.

  • Guy Montag||

    Happy New Year!

  • ||

    Whatever happened with the Browne-Hornberger spat? Surprisingly, one rarely reads about LP-related stuff on H&R, for better or for worse. The last few mentions I have seen before this were about Ron Paul continuing his candidacy if/when he doesn't get the GOP nomination.

  • R C Dean||

    waging a highly public ongoing battle with Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D-N.Y.).

    For that alone, I'll give him a pass on quite a lot.

    And since when is smearing [spit] politicians not something to celebrate?

  • Ramsey||

    James, you are positing that a fertilized egg is automatically a human. As my friend can attest after 3 miscarriages, that is not necessarily the case. Thousands of fertilized eggs are wasted every day for in-vitro fertilization, but the pro-life crowd never crows about that genocide.

    Sorry, a little off topic I suppose.

    I think it is only dirty tricks if the other side is not trying to do it to you first.

  • Guy Montag||

    As my friend can attest after 3 miscarriages, that is not necessarily the case.

    That would be three cases of death by natural causes.

    Your rituals after the event may vary.

  • Heinrick||

    Hey all you pro-lifers out there, especally the ones that think a woman that gets pregnant from getting raped should have to keep the "baby"...please go back to the GOP where your nanny state tendencys can be expressed to your fellow travelers.

  • R C Dean||

    Geez, Heinrick. Nobody is saying she has to keep it. She is certainly free to put the little parasite up for adoption once its borne.

    [This post expresses no opinion on the morality or desirability of abortion or laws in relation thereto.]

  • Sam Grove||

    "Even when pregnancy is due to rape, both parents still have the general obligation not to kill or further endanger their innocent preborn child."

    But there is a period before a fetus becomes an innocent child. And the fetus is not an innocent child, but DNA coding imposed against the will of the mother. Half the DNA is that of a sociopath which may have some basis in the DNA code. Such coding must be rejected. The rapist does not deserve to have his code passed on. Quite the opposite. If only all women could recognize and reject sociopathic types.

    soto voiceBut where would politicians come from?

    Imagine a world without Dondero.

  • anonymous||

    "Half the DNA is that of a sociopath which may have some basis in the DNA code. Such coding must be rejected. The rapist does not deserve to have his code passed on. Quite the opposite."

    True. Bad genes must be culled. Since we're talking about ridding society of evil DNA, and not the presence or absence of humanity in a prenatal human entity (which is irrelevant for this exercise(, we should probably kill any other kids he has for good measure. You can never be too careful.

  • SxCx||

    James: I understand, from the pro-life perspective, an abortion-inclined rape victim would herself be sinning. What I'm saying is that I understand it, and shudder to envision a scenario where she couldn't make that choice.

  • Eric Dondero||

    Actually, I'm Pro-Life.

    Pro-Life for Americans facing the greatest threat of our 230 history: Islamo-Fascism.

    Those who oppose the War in Iraq and Afghanistan and the overall War on Terror are the Pro-Death ones, cause they believe it's perfectly fine for Radical Muslims to fly jet planes into our NYC skyscrapers and the Pentagon, and kill 3,000 of our fellow citizens.

    Pro-Life = Fight Islamo-Fascism

    Pro-Death = Surrender to Islamo-Fascism and allow your Jewish friends to be carted off to the Gas Chambers by the Radical Muslim Fundamentalists.

  • SxCx||

    Frankly, I think this is one of those cases where philosophical racquetball falls flat. Faced with a woman shattered and unable to cope with trauma she never asked for, I simply couldn't see myself making a principled case for keeping a pregnancy. Yes, I may be demonstrating moral weakness. In such an extreme scenario, I'm alright with that.

    P.S. I never even said I'm pro-life, this is just a thought experiment.

  • Guy Montag||

    James: I understand, from the pro-life perspective, an abortion-inclined rape victim would herself be sinning.

    Not speaking for James, but even if one is secular it is not a matter of sin, it is a matter of murder.

    The sin part is ritual and the murder part should cross beliefs.

    As much as I would like to kill the inconvenient people in my life, no matter if they got there by invite or by just rudly appearing, I don't kill or physically harm them (unless my life is in danger) BECAUSE IT IS FUCKING WRONG! Not because it is a sin, not because G_d is watching and not because I might get in trouble.

  • SxCx||

    To be fair, I was using "sinning" loosely, much more in a moral sense as you described.

    I think it's dismissive to compare rape pregnancies to "a rude appearance". We're talking about coercive intercourse, not a romantic comedy. And a child is not a casual friend or an irritating co-worker, it's a full-time job and a lifelong commitment. If you can stick to your guns in face of such gravity, fine, I'm admitting I couldn't, and wouldn't ask it any other human being.

  • SxCx||

    "Honey, I'm home!"

    "Hello dear! How was your day?"

    "Busy! How was yours?"

    "I got raped!"

    "Well then! I guess we better make another place at the table!"

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