Barack Obama

The Return of Alan Keyes


Jack Ryan sexed himself out of the running; Barack Obama becomes everyone's favorite Democrat bouncing out of the convention. Who do the color-blind Republicans turn to for an Illinois Senate seat? Alan Keyes! As W. James Antle III discusses this development over at The American Spectator:

The main reason I would like to see Keyes tell his Chicago recruiters to take a long walk off something short is that they don't seem to have the right motives for approaching him to be the candidate. A national search could have discovered a candidate with a better record of winning elections. Race seems to have been a factor. Is it a coincidence that Andrea Grubb Barthwell, the other finalist for the nomination, was also African-American?

State Sen. Dave Syverson of Rockford, a member of the panel that made the offer to Keyes, insists that it is. "It just turned out to be that way," he told the Chicago Sun-Times. "We don't look at color the way the Democrats do." Maybe so, but you don't have to be a thoroughgoing cynic to wonder if the Illinois GOP was thinking: "The Democrats have an articulate, Harvard-educated black candidate who gives great speeches. We need an articulate, Harvard-educated black candidate who gives great speeches."

Keyes has always been a solid traditionalist conservative with libertarian leanings, staking out his positions boldly and giving joy to the heart of those who still like a politician who stands for something (and, thusly, won't fall for anything). As Antle also points out, running for Senate (especially from a state in which he doesn't, and has never, lived) would be a hypocritical move for a man who is such a devotee of state's prerogatives in our federal system that he's publically railed against the direct election of senators. But I always get a kick out of seeing Keyes in the mix politically–he's serious about politics and ideas in a way that's so alien to modern electoral politics that he can't help but stand out as funny–so I've mixed feelings about this. But I know we can trust Keyes to do the right thing, whatever that turns out to be.

Another man who gets a kick out of Keyes is Reason contributing editor and cartoonist Peter Bagge, who drew his hilarious coverage of Keyes's 2000 presidential run at the lamented

UPDATE: Associated Press, via ABC News, is reporting that Keyes is going to run.

NEXT: Sandy Berger Followup

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  1. “It just turned out to be that way,”

    That’s gotta be a joke!

    But I don’t see why the GOP couldn’t say, “we are accused of not having enough minorities …blah, blah … this would be a good opportunity to address that” or something similar.

    In addition to Keyes’s (?) color, his name recognition and speaking abilities must have come into consideration. If Keyes accepts, the debates should be interesting.

  2. According to reports this morning, he already has accepted and will announce it publicly on Sunday.

  3. Jerry Kohn? For real? Is he running with Gush Beogre?

  4. What “libertarian leanings” does Keyes have?

  5. Via Atrios:

    Alan Keyes in 2000:

    I deeply resent the destruction of federalism represented by Hillary Clinton’s willingness to go into a state she doesn’t even live in and pretend to represent people there. So I certainly wouldn’t imitate it.

    At least Hillary *moved* to NY before announcing her run. 🙂

  6. Peter Bagge is really growing on me. Thanks
    for the pointer.


  7. Yeah I know. Jerry Kohn – Kerry John – John Kerry. Jerry Kohn announced for US Senate in October 2003 long before the Democratic primaries or any inkling of a John Kerry candidacy and we have a Sun-Times article to prove it.

    Also ironically, John Kerry’s grandparents changed their name from Kohn to Kerry upon entry into the US.

  8. “It just turned out to be that way,” sort of like the intensive search for the most accomplished legal mind in America yielded…Clarence Thomas.

    The Massachusetts Republicans nominated a black conservative whack job to run against Teddy last time, and believe the LP actually came in second.

  9. How’s chappy doing these days?

  10. Hey, maybe we’ll get treated to another one of Keyes’ stagedives!

  11. I once saw an old comedian tell a story about the time Richard Gere introduced him to the Dalai Lama. The old comedian and the Dalai Lama greeted each other, as expected, and Richard Gere left them to talk.

    After an awkward silence, the old comedian said, “Why do you think he wanted to introduce us to each other?” To which the Dalai Lama replied, “Maybe we’re the only old people he knows.”

    Keyes is almost sure to lose, and he must know this. It might be worth the loss to get his message out, but, regardless, Keyes selection by the Illinois GOP may tell us a lot more about the Illinois GOP than anything else. Is Alan Keyes the only guy they know who’s…

  12. Joe, you heard that Clarence Thomas thing on NPR, didn’t you? (or its a BIG coincidence)

    Uh, not that I listen to NPR or anything…

  13. Does anyone remember that TV show Keys had for a while, ‘Alan Keyes is making grits’ – I think it was a cooking show.

  14. I’ve always kind of liked Keyes. Even when I disagree with him (which is frequent) I still think he’s interesting. I used to enjoy his appearances on Hannity & Colmes, back when I watched them for fun (sort of like the way I watch really bad movies for fun now and then). Hannity, despite his utter lack of intelligence, at least realized that when Keyes is on the best thing to do is stay quiet and nod while Keyes makes intelligent points. Colmes, of course, had no idea that he was WAY out of his depth, would try to argue with Keyes. Keyes would calmly demolishes Colmes’ argument, but Colmes would be too oblivious to realize it.

    Kind of funny to watch, really.

    When did Keyes object to direct election of Senators?

  15. The direct election of Senators? That’s one of my favorite topics! He’s against it? Well go Alan Keyes!

  16. I like Keyes as well, but the non-Illinois residency thing will surely bite him in the ass. The rationale for picking Keyes is too obvious. Isn’t it the Republican party that is always screaming that race shouldn’t make a difference? I would like to see a debate between Obama and Keyes…two intelligent black men who represent themselves well instead of the tired old ranting of Jesse and Rev. Al (whose vocation is really stand up comedy).

  17. This Keyes decision is about one thing: turnout.

    The Senate seat is lost out there, so they need to make sure that a weak Senate candidate doesn’t hurt up OR down ticket races. Keyes could get out some of the party faithful, and that will help Bush. And at least they’ll be running SOMEONE well known, which will help all the R candidates in the state.

  18. I laughed my ass off at the “old lady” panel in the Bagge strip.

  19. I voted for Keyes in the 1996 and 2000 Republican primary. He probably has about the same chance of winning the Illinois Senate race, but it’s great that his voice is out there. I hope CSPAN shows the Obama-Keyes debates.

    Like others, I’m not crazy about the carpetbagger routine, but Hillary set the precedent in 2000. That genie is out of the bottle and I don’t know if it’s ever going back in.

  20. Friday fun!

    Here’s an incredibly funny cover pic of a cookbook from Judy Baar Topinka, chair of the IL GOP.

    And, look, it’s a “Republican”:

    “There is a group in the party which obviously is enamored with [Jim] Oberweis because he finished second [against Jack Ryan in the primary],” said DuPage County GOP Chairman Kirk Dillard. “[But] an Oberweis candidacy would present unique problems when it comes to immigration and race and ethnicity, [problems] which I’m not sure we want to take on at this time.”

  21. The question is what is Keyes going to get in return for his ass whipping? Has he got a deal or is he just looking for publicity?

    I believe Hillary owned a house and paid taxes in NY when she ran. Will Keyes do the same?

  22. I guess the R’s have to add Keyes to their list of convention speakers, now. Given the likelihood that he will lose the election in a big way, I can only imagine that he is running to get himself back into the limelight. It seems odd that so many people seem to like Alan Keyes given the paltry amount of votes he has received in past elections. Of course, he was always running against white guys.

  23. It sounds like the GOP went scouting for a viable candidate and came up with Keyes, whereas Clinton sought the Senate seat herself. That’s a bit of a difference. Anyway, I think Keyes is much too conservative for Illinois (anti-abortion, anti-gay). He doesn’t have a chance, which is good because I find him VERY creepy.

  24. “illary set the precedent in 2000…”

    Wasn’t it more like RFK set the precedent back in the 60s?

  25. Was RFK before Rockefellar? West Virginia, I love that.

  26. “Like others, I’m not crazy about the carpetbagger routine, but Hillary set the precedent in 2000.”

    Yes, the precedent that Alan Keyes criticized, I’ve heard.

    But Alan Keyes isn’t being a hypocrite, because this is…different. Somehow.

  27. New York has a tradition of “blow-ins” running, and winning for Senate. RFK has been mentioned. In 1970 James Buckley, from Connecticut, won in a 3-way race as a Conservative Party candidate. He was defeated for reelection by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a New York native who had been a Harvard academic, advisor to Presidents based in D.C., and even UN Ambassador.

    The Constitution names only 3 qualifications to hold a Senate seat. Article I, section 3 requires a candidate to be:

    at least 30 years of age
    a citizen of the United States for at least 9 years
    a resident of the state when elected.

    Of course, the original carpetbagger to represent New York in the U.S. Senate was Massachusetts’ Rufus King, in the first Congress under the new Constitution. That bastard Hamilton screwed over my homeboy, Ezra l’Hommedieu!

    So, the IL GOP isn’t doing anything new, however desparate they may seem, and in fact, may be.


  28. I live in Illinois. There is so much that could be said. But in the end, it is just sad. Very, very sad.

  29. The Keyes candidacy may help other Republicans since now conservatives will have a motivation to go to the polls; a motivation that our liberal president does not inspire.

  30. I don’t know from Gush Beogre, but that Ryan fellow’s ex-wife was a Lush Borg! 🙂


  31. Skeptikos,

    Yes, and that seems to be the way it is with most things having to do with government/politics.

    The only justification for getting involved in politics is to reduce the influence of government.
    Politics might then become less critical.

  32. How does Keyes lean libertarian again?

  33. Is it too late for the Greens to nominate Mumia?

  34. brooklyn dave,
    “The rationale for picking Keyes is too obvious. Isn’t it the republican party that is always screaming that race shouldn’t make a difference?”

    That’s why the GOP first tried to recruit Mike Ditka, because he’s black.

    Wait a minute…

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