Fred's Final Days

Barring a miracle, South Carolina will bury the last libertarian-leaning candidate of '08


COLUMBIA, SC—One by one, the great libertarian hopes of the 2008 presidential cycle have been dashed.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson was touted—some might say over-hyped—as an example of a Western "libertarian Democrat" for his friendliness to gun rights, for signing a medical marijuana law, and for a tax-cutting record that earned him a B on the Cato Institute's Fiscal Policy Report Card. He dropped out of the race after failing to break the six percent mark in Iowa or New Hampshire. At his final debate appearance in New Hampshire, the Clinton-Obama-Edwards triumvirate hardly seemed to notice him.

While few thought Congressman Ron Paul, the one-time Libertarian Party candidate and anti-war Republican, would be a viable contender for the presidency, lots of people thought that he might at least raise the profile of libertarian ideas. Now his history of associating with the uglier side of the paleolibertarian movement has come back to haunt him, and many once-sympathetic observers are wondering if his campaign might actually be bad for libertarianism.

That leaves former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson. For a while, during his endless flirtation with the GOP race, Thompson looked to some people like the Great Libertarian Hope. The Cato Institute's Michael Tanner praised Thompson last May for "a solid record as a fiscal conservative," adding that in the Senate he was "a consistent supporter of entitlement reform" and a reliable vote for free trade. "On federalism," Tanner wrote, "there may be no better candidate."

Indeed, Thompson is the only major candidate who talks about the importance of federalism, which has helped earn him endorsements from an impressive roster of libertarian-leaning law professors, including Volokh Conspiracy blogger-profs Eugene Volokh, Jonathan Adler, Todd Zywicki, and Orin Kerr.

On the stump, Thompson likes to say that "a government big enough and powerful enough to give you anything is big enough and powerful enough to take anything away from you." He waxes on about how the principles this country was founded on include "respect for a market economy, and what can be done in a free country with free people doing free things in healthy competition with one another and trading with their neighbors."

Alas, Thompson has hardly taken the race by storm. Glenn Reynolds wrote last month that he might have joined Volokh et al. in endorsing Thompson if he hadn't observed how poorly Thompson's campaign is run behind the scenes. That poorly run campaign has yielded poor results. Thompson's low-key affect and introverted personality made him ill-suited to the hands-on retail politicking that Iowans expect, and he edged out John McCain for third place in the Iowa caucuses by just three tenths of a percentage point despite spending much more time than McCain stumping in the Hawkeye State (McCain focused on New Hampshire, where he won). He made almost no effort in the New Hampshire and Michigan primaries, where he got less than 2 percent and less than 4 percent of the vote, respectively.

Now Thompson is putting all of his hopes on a strong finish in South Carolina. "We have to be very successful [here]," Thompson spokesman Jeff Sadosky told me Wednesday. "He would say he has drawn his line in the sand in South Carolina. We've been down here for the last couple of weeks while everybody else was up in Michigan. We're campaigning heavily throughout the state. It's his neck of the woods." Does he have to finish second or better? "I'm not going to get into that," says Sadosky. "We're working hard, we're going to be successful. I'll let the pundits figure out where we need to be."

Very well, then: Thompson needs to finish second or better in South Carolina, or his campaign is over. There are signs that he's gaining steam; polls show a small uptick in support for Thompson over the past week, coming at Mike Huckabee's expense. But it's not at all clear that it'll be enough. In Orangeburg on Wednesday, at 6:30 in the evening, Thompson attracted a good-sized crowd. At 12:45 the next day, Mike Huckabee attracted an even bigger crowd in Florence.

Huckabee's mixture of nanny-statism, populist economic rhetoric, and social conservatism makes him a libertarian's nightmare, and anything that trips him up is to be welcomed. But if Thompson really is dragging down Huckabee, the biggest beneficiary is McCain, who is either leading or tied with Huckabee in every poll this week. A libertarian journalist could fill a book with things that are troubling about John McCain, and reason editor Matt Welch has done so.

Perhaps something will change the dynamics of the race in the remaining hours before South Carolina Republicans go to the polls tomorrow, and Thompson will catch a break. But at the moment, his prospects don't appear to give fans of smaller government any reason to abandon the pessimism that has by now become all too familiar.

John Tabin is a writer and blogger for The American Spectator.

NEXT: White President, Black Heart*

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  1. As far as I can see, there was only ever one “great libertarian hope”, your Beltway libertarian fantasies notwithstanding, and he’s still as in it as he ever was. I guess now _Reason_ will have to get on board with Eric Dondero and endorse Giuliani.

  2. First post!

  3. “there you go again…”

  4. Roger: Mr. Quick is aptly named

  5. Here’s some video of Fred associating with racists. Presumably, he didn’t write these words:

  6. Fred Thompson once saved a man’s life by killing him.

  7. I seem to remember Dave Weigel writing about Fred being a gun-grabber, even helping to get the assault weapons ban passed. Some libertarian.

  8. Some of us are wondering if reason has returned to editorializing when they should be reporting.

    The anti-religion bigotry here is at least as bad as the newsletters’ racism.

    Paul has distanced himself from the letters. Can’t we give the subject a rest. Pllllease?

  9. I agree that Mises and LRC people have to come clean about the early 90s racist affiliations. But openly voicing support for a total statist like Fred Thompson makes me wonder if the more conspiratorial things LRC people say about “Beltway libertarians” aren’t at least partly true. Puke!

  10. “Hi, I work for Reason. I am a fuckwad.”

  11. The rumors of Ron Paul’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Out here in California, he has thousands of volunteers, still waving signs and writing letters and canvassing door-to-door. No other candidate does. He received 20,000 more votes than Fred Thompson in Michigan, yet Thompson is supposed to have outlasted him? Give me a break.

    The only thing hurting the libertarian movement here is a few weak-kneed “supporters” wilting at the closest thing anyone could find to a smear on the candidate with the best pro-liberty voting record in recent American history.

  12. Fred “lets bomb Iraq” Thompson? Libertarian? LOL!

  13. Fred Thompson was Nixon’s weazle or mole in congress keeping Tricky Dick updated on the Watergate investigation. Ain’t no way, I’d vote for him.

    Why is it that only TNR, a few left wing blogs, and Reason Hit&Run are the only one’s still flogging the dead horse newsletters?

  14. I have to wonder if you folks are purposefully trying to be antagonistic at this point. Pining for some journalistic integrity, anyone?

  15. TNR, a few left wing blogs, and Reason Hit&Run are the only one’s still flogging the dead horse

    Because that’s the loop, and it only talks to itself.

  16. For those who haven’t seen it yet, here’s Justin Raimondo’s take, which links to this.

  17. True Fact: John Tabin and I are different people with different opinions.

    I’m still waiting for someone to read my coverage of Ron Paul from the summer of 2007 – including my pushback against the lie that Paul was a “9/11 truther,” which got Michelle Malkin to retract her claims about that – and find my super-double-secret plot against the candidate.

  18. David W: I will never forget your marked enthusiastic attitude when reporting in NH.

  19. “True Fact”… as opposed to a false one?

  20. Who is this guy? He’s batshit crazy if he thinks Fred is ‘libertarian’.

    Good riddance Fred, Godspeed Ron Paul….

    Sweetest candidate we’ve had in a long time.

    This whole thing about racism is a DEAD HORSE, unless of course you want to talk about Hillary or Obama..

    Hillary Picks La Raza Leader As Campaign Co Chair
    Thu, 04/12/2007
    The former president of an extremist group that organized many of the country’s disruptive pro illegal immigration marches and advocates the return of the American Southwest to Mexico will co-chair Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
    Best known for his radical pro Chicano work during 30 years as president of the National Council of La Raza, Raul Yzaguirre is being promoted by the Clinton campaign as a prominent Hispanic activist who will lead the New York senator’s outreach to Hispanic voters.
    The reality is that Yzaguirre alienates many American citizens of Hispanic descent (in other words, those qualified to vote) with his so-called La Raza rhetoric, which has been repeatedly labeled racist.
    The National Council of La Raza describes itself as the largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, but it caters to the radical Chicano movement that says California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and parts of Colorado and Texas belong to Aztlan.
    The takeover plan is referred to as the “reconquista” of the Western U.S. and it features ethnic cleansing of Americans, Europeans, Africans and Asians once the area is taken back and converted to Aztlan.
    While this may all sound a bit crazy, this organization is quite powerful (thanks to Hillary’s new campaign co-chair) and annually receives millions of dollars in federal grants. Its leaders also managed to get included in congressional hearings regarding immigration. Last year alone, the National Council of La Raza received $15.2 million in federal grants and one senator gave the group an extra $4 million in earmarked American taxpayer dollars.
    The organization uses the money to support projects like a Southern California elementary school with a curriculum that specializes in bashing America and promoting the Chicano movement. The school’s founder and principal, a Calexico-educated activist named Marcos Aguilar, opposes racial integration and says Mexicans in the U.S. don’t want to go to white schools or drink from white water fountains.

    Hillary also is known for having a foul mouth and hurling anti-semitic language at Jews.

    Barack Obama’s racist and anti-semitic church

    Consider Obama’s membership in a Chicago South Side Trinity United Church of Christ headed by a racist and anti-semitic pastor, Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.

    Obama has gone out of his way to point to this relationship as evidence of his being a professing Christian and, simultaneously, as Pipes has pointed out a murtadd or apostate under Islam.

    Now, comes this Ron Kessler Washington Insider piece revealing the bizarre, racial and anti-semitic views of Pastor Wright, including the allegation that we, ‘as a white nation brought 9/11 down on ourselves because of our violent acts’.

    Is the smoke coming out of your ears, yet?

    Look at what Kessler cites:

    In sermons and interviews, Dr. Wright has equated Zionism with racism and Israel with South Africa under its previous policy of apartheid. On the Sunday after 9/11, Wright said the attacks were a consequence of violent American policies. Four years later, Wright suggested that the attacks were retribution for America’s racism.

    “In the 21st century, white America got a wake-up call after 9/11/01,” Wright wrote in a church-affiliated magazine. “White America and the western world came to realize that people of color had not gone away, faded into the woodwork or just ‘disappeared’ as the Great White West kept on its merry way of ignoring black concerns.”

    In one of his sermons, Wright said, “Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run!?We [in the U.S.] believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God.”

    As for Israel, “The Israelis have illegally occupied Palestinian territories for over 40 years now,” Wright has said. “Divestment has now hit the table again as a strategy to wake the business community and wake up Americans concerning the injustice and the racism under which the Palestinians have lived because of Zionism.”

    Either Barrack Obama disavows his membership in Pastor Wright’s church with its bizarre ‘racist and anti-semitic views’ or he’s toast even among liberal Democratic voters, if they haven’t been taken in by his platitudinous mantra of ‘hope and change’.

    Should Obama emerge as a Democratic front runner in these early primaries, this scurrilous relationship will likely do him in, even if he feigns to disavow Pastor Wright’s racist and anti-semitic views. Barack Obama still belongs to Pastor Wright’s Trinity United Church in Chicago.

    Barack Obama’s Racist Church
    If Sen. Obama rejects the Rev. Wright’s warped view of this country, why does he continue to attend his church?

  21. Is this a copy+paste from somewhere or did you actually spend time typing all of that?

  22. Sure, Fred Thompson may support the continued bombing of poor brown people on the other side of the globe, and he may express the what is now standard GOP anti-muslim bigotry whenever the “war on terra” comes up in a debate, and he may want to deny those accused of any “terrorism”-related crime habeas corpus or due process rights… but…

    He says nice things about federalism every once in awhile, honest!

    Gee, if only Reason could find some more libertarian guy running for presidnet out there — maybe one who ran for president on the Libertarian Party ticket, or something?

    Oh right, a former LP candidate running a more viable campaign than two former media frontrunners? Nah, that’ll never happen.

  23. Honestly, what the fuck is going on at this rag? I want my $20 back.

  24. Ron Paul, not Bill Richardson, is our last, best chance for this election cycle. And Bill Richardson isn’t a libertarian and he never did have any hope. Other than that, it’s a plausible consideration. (No offence intended.)

  25. “I want my $20 back”

    Drink! I haven’t got my first issue yet, but I’m anxiously waiting.

  26. No, Fred Thompsom isn’t a libertarian by any stretch of the imagination. I cast mt singular primary for Ron Paul already. This is important – Anything that keeps that ignorant, hillbilly whackjob preacher from the nomination is all right by me.

    The anti-religion bigotry here is at least as bad as the newsletters’ racism.

    jj –
    Does the above count? If case you haven’t noticed, all of the candidates are professed deists. In fact, they are all professed Christians.

  27. Oops – my singular primary ballot for Ron Paul…

  28. I read Reason’s articles on the Newsletters. It was an eye opening insight into the paleo wing of the movement. However…

    It’s a little bit pompous to think that your article single-handedly brought down the Paul campaign. Last I looked, it’s still going strong with plenty of cash to spend. It think Super has the potential to defeat Paul, but not your petty smear job.

    Are you just trying to piss people off who might otherwises subscribe, like me?

  29. This is the funniest thing I’ve heard in a long time. Mr. Libertarian Fred Thompson can’t even spell the word because it may require too much effort.

    He has to be the laziest candidate in a long while and is just skating along until the federal matching funds disappear.

    KILL ALL MUSLIMS sounds pretty Libertarian to me. What ever credibility this site had is completely gone with this latest post. In addition, continuing to spend a trillion dollars a year on the war demonstrates fiscal responsibility.


  30. And some people wonder why libertarians are often viewed as apologists for big business or just Republicans who smoke pot…

    Exhibit A — Reason Magazine

    Exhibit B — Cato Institute

  31. I’m not sure how Thompson is even libertarian-leaning. He supports foreign intervention and intanglements, and restrictions on free speech. He also supports to the attempt to federally intervene in the Schaivo case.

    Perhaps he’s the least unlibertarian of the bunch. But that might not be saying much.

  32. If we can dismiss Ron Paul for his past as a newsletter writer/editor/publisher/whatever, can we dismiss Fred Thompson for being the Watergate mole?

  33. Reason can learn a thing of two on writing hit pieces from this rant on Fred Thompson in the Washington Post.

  34. I agree that the article is dumb, but its the first time I’ve seen anything remotely positive about Thompson in the magazine. Every other item of coverage has been about what a joke his campaign is.
    Also, the opinion of a contributing writer probably shouldn’t be conflated with the views of the entire editorial board (if you can call it that).

  35. Okay lads:

    For the record, I never saw the point of Fred Thompson myself. “Bush with a baritone,” someone once called him, and I think he was right. I’d never have called him a dyed-in-the-wool libertarian (or a candidate with mch substance at all, to be honest). But I don’t think Ron Paul is an ideal libertarian candidate either.

    Anyway, that’s beside the point of the article, as I read it, which was mostly fair comment.

    Clearly Thompson, by accident or design, appealed to some commentators who agreed with as much of the libertarian program as is agreed to by the average reader of the American Spectator (say), though probably far less than that agreed on by the average reader of reason.

    He clearly has failed, miserably, into translating that into popular support, in part because of an inept campaign. This can’t be disputed by anybody with any command of the facts.

    In other words, RTFA now and again, lads.

  36. Isn’t Am Spec a paleocon rag?

  37. Actually I’ve come to like Thompson somewhat during this campaign. I think if he drops out, his voters will split between Huckabee and Paul.

  38. What a shame one of the few “libertarian” magazines had to go off the deep end and flip out over ron paul. Your going to have to do a lot to make up for this one if you want to remain a sustainable and read magazine.

  39. Regarding the LaRazaLeader bit above, here’s some more information on him. See also this about another of Her helpers. Since that post, even some MSM rags have reported on financial “issues” he has.

    And, here’s the other side on Cato.

  40. It’s too damn bad. Thompson might possibly have won in a general election. And I think a true libertarian would, in the American political spectrum, be more conservative than leftist.

  41. The movement is dead if the volokh conspiracy is what “libertarian” means today. At best, conservative statists lite.

  42. Actually I’ve come to like Thompson somewhat during this campaign. I think if he drops out, his voters will split between Huckabee and Paul.

    One to each!

  43. Paul has been caught LYING about his newsletters, personally profited nearly $1 million from them which was paid to HIm, his WIFE and his DAUGHTER not to mention Rockwell.

    and you guys are still defending this conspiratorial racist.


  44. Bidinotto: Ron Paul’s “noninterventionism” fraud

    and now he has been vindicated as Pauls’ racist and Conspiracy mongering past and present comes to view.

  45. National Security is a Civil Liberty, those that don’t recognize that and the facts of the day are not real libertarians, and that includes Paul, Rockwell and other paranoid lunatics like Rothbard.

  46. I seem to remember Dave Weigel writing about Fred being a gun-grabber, even helping to get the assault weapons ban passed. Some libertarian.


    The assault weapons ban passed before Fred was in the Senate.

    Fred’s Senate gun record here

  47. National Security is a Civil Liberty, those that don’t recognize that and the facts of the day are not real libertarians, and that includes Paul, Rockwell and other paranoid lunatics like Rothbard.

    A reasonable argument can be made that national security is a means to the ends of civil liberties, but strictly speaking, referring to it as a civil liberty in and of itself sounds like an endorsement of “positive liberty.” As I’m sure you’re aware, that’s considered counter-revolutionary and will have the Libertarian Party’s NKVD on you in seconds flat.

    Ha ha ha.

    No, I’m serious. So, you believe in positive liberties? Let’s hear some arguments. I’m looking forward to them.

  48. Add something else to the list of things that “might actually be bad for libertarianism”this article. It would be hillarious if not so sad (sort of like the link jp has provided).

  49. I’m looking for another libertarian news source like Reason, you guys are sellouts…

  50. If you go to the Tanner article that supposedly supports Thompson, it goes on to criticize his hawkish foreign policy views. Perhaps this guest article is written by a liberventionist, if not simply a conservative.

    I suppose it is news that the some liberventionist lawyers support Thompson. (As opposed to Guiliani, I guess.)

  51. Craig wrote: The only thing hurting the libertarian movement here is a few weak-kneed “supporters” wilting at the closest thing anyone could find to a smear on the candidate with the best pro-liberty voting record in recent American history.

    jp wrote: Paul has been caught LYING about his newsletters, personally profited nearly $1 million from them which was paid to HIm, his WIFE and his DAUGHTER not to mention Rockwell.

    and you guys are still defending this conspiratorial racist.


    Between the commentors ripping on “tReason” for calling attention to Paul’s past racist associations, and the commentors ripping on Reason for defending a “conspiratorial racist,” it seems like Reason is doing something right.

    Although I will be happy when the newsletter issue goes away (even if Ron Paul goes away along with it…).

  52. I used to think “Reason” was actually a libertarian magazine, but now I’m really wondering if it’s pseudo-libertarian, and more into legalizing drugs (good) and letting anyone that wants to into our nation (bad), and doesn’t really care one way or the other about the Constitution.

    Beltway libertarianism IS NOT libertarianism.

  53. Last libertarian-leaning candidate. RTFA, he’s not arguing Fred Thompson is a libertarian. But he’s the last Republican candidate (barring Ron Paul, who’s having a hard time breaking out of single digits) who was even remotely palatable to libertarian-leaning Repubicans. The only viable candidates left are Mittens, Huckabuck and Walnuts (and possibly 9iu11iani, though I doubt it), none of who even give lip service to truly small government. They are all of ’em big government conservatives of one sort or another. Welcome to the future, comrade. The Republicans don’t want people who’d “drown government in a bathtub” anymore.

  54. National Security is a Civil Liberty, those that don’t recognize that and the facts of the day are not real libertarians, and that includes Paul, Rockwell and other paranoid lunatics like Rothbard.

    And Benjamin Franklin, I guess.

  55. There are three libertarian-leaning GOP candidates in the race: Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. Each has significant libertarian support.

    California’s Tom McClintock is a Thompson guy.

    Romney has William Weld in his corner, and folks like Cong. Mike Hoekstra of Michigan and New Hampshire libertarian State Rep. DJ Bettencourt.

    Giuliani of course has Steve Forbes, Dennis Miller, and Sally Pipes.

    To say that Fred is the last remaing libertarian leaning candidate is ridiculous. Libertarians could and will support any of the three Fiscal Cons in the race.

  56. JP is right on. He’s correct: National Security is a civil liberty. Being dead from a Radical Muslim Terrorist attack is the very definition of a gross violation of individual rights.

  57. “There are three libertarian-leaning GOP candidates in the race: Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. Each has significant libertarian support.”

    You see, Dondero, your main problem is that you don’t have a dictionary.

  58. Most of the Objectivist-leaning “libertarians” I know are supporting Thompson, even though the idea of “President Thompson” carries some baggage for Randites.

  59. always interesting how the Dem and Rep “base” seems to have no problem supporting their candidates, warts/scandals/personal shortcomings/policy disagreements and all, and yet the “libertarians” insist upon such ideological and personal purity.

    maybe that’s how the warfare/welfare Dems and Reps manage to keep a stranglehold on the system the way they do.

    how telling, disappointing, and absurd that we “libs” can’t ,somehow manage to unite to help elect the best presidential candidate we’ve had in decades.

    and no, I don’t mean Fred.

  60. Romney. The guy who promised to save the MI auto industry from itself by totally having the Federal government spend billions researching new technology. The guy who wants to “double Gitmo.” The same Romney who imposed an illibertarian health insurance mandate on the fine citizens of MA. Yep, he’s the man to rollback government intrusion on the economy. That’s exactly what we want. Someone who’s basically promising to be a smarter, even business friendlier GWB.


  61. Look, Romney is a fine Chamber of Commerce Republican, as far as that goes. But there’s no way I can enthusiastically support him. The only reason I’d vote for him is to prevent single party Democratic rule.

  62. What utter nonsense. Fred was never “libertarian leaning”, he merely gave lip service to liberty, the way that Republicans have been doing for decades.


  63. Rittberg,

    You are out of your microcephalic mind. Rudy is a GUN GRABBER. Did you miss that somehow?


  64. Being dead from a Radical Muslim Terrorist Flying Spaghetti Monster attack is the very definition of a gross violation of individual rights.

    Fixed that for you mr. Dondero.

  65. JohnL,

    Heh, yeah, I guess it would.


    The individual’s right to life is a foundational civil liberty. On that alone are you implicitly correct. However, conflating the individual right to live with “national security” – and whatever bundled prescriptions that entails – is such a hoary, old statist trick that you must feel real contempt for the commenters here to even wheel it out.

  66. Democrat Mike Gravel is more libertarian than Ron Paul or Thompson. Gravel supports ending the war in Iraq immediately just as Ron Paul does. He supports drug legalization. He does support a safety net – but he incorporates vouchers into most programs to retain some competition. He would fight global warming with a tax credit system.

    Apparently he’s also a Reason subscriber.

    Too bad his campaign is over (which everyone knows except him) and he comes across as a crazy old man.

  67. FRED THOMPSON is the best person to lead this country. He is a true conservative and has been his entire life. All one has to do is check his record to see this.

    During my time in the Army as an Intelligence Analyst, I served under both Presidents Carter and Reagan (as my commanders in chief). Without argument, President Reagan was the best commander-in-chief a military person could ever have served under. Fred Thompson possesses the same qualities and vision as President Reagan in that he is strong on national defense and sees a dire need to secure our borders and control immigration.

    I can think of no better person to lead this country and fix the problems we have. He is the only candidate from either party who has specific and detailed plans on border security and immigration reform; revitalization of America’s armed forces; saving and protecting Social Security; and tax relief and economic growth. These are detailed on his Web site at . I challenge you to find any other candidate who has laid out specific plans to fix anything.

    Fred Thompson has published his first principles, some of which are mentioned above. In addition to those, he strongly believes in individual liberty, personal responsibility, limited government, federalism, traditional American values, the rule of law and is a strong proponent of the Second Amendment – all concepts established during the birth of our country and documented in our Constitution.

    Again, try to find any candidate who has laid out their plans to “fix” this country. You will find they all speak in vague and abstract terms on their plans.

    For those who have heard Fred Thompson speak, you will usually hear him say that the Fred Thompson you see today is the same Fred Thompson you saw yesterday and is the same Fred Thompson you will see tomorrow. He stands by his principles and values and doesn’t shift his positions based on polls or public opinion; in other words, he doesn’t say what the voters want to hear just to get elected, but remains steadfast on his views and convictions.

    During his time in the Senate he focused on three areas: to lower taxes, strengthen national security and expose waste in the federal government. Fred Thompson has foreign policy experience, having served as member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Senate Intelligence committees.

    As chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, he opened the investigation in 1997 on the Chinese government’s attempt to influence American policies and elections, and this investigation identified connections with the Clinton administration (documented in the committee’s report).

    As a member of the Finance Committee, he worked tirelessly to enact three major tax-cut bills. Fred Thompson remains steadfast and even though a person may not agree with all his views and he understands some may disagree with him, you can count on him to be consistent and unwavering.

    Don’t be fooled by his laid back approach and what critics call his “laziness.” As a former assistant U.S. attorney, he earned a reputation as a tough prosecutor and he possesses the toughness this country needs in order to tackle today’s and tomorrow’s issues.

    I ask that you take a hard look at what this country needs, then take a hard look at all the other candidates’ views, policies, their records and their track record on consistency. Fred Thompson possesses integrity, loyalty, commitment, energy and decisiveness, all traits of an effective leader, and will emerge as the best person to take this country boldly forward.

    Please help Fred win in South Carolina:

  68. lol at thompson robo-post. i wonder if the bot wrote the article, too.

  69. John Randolph, you are out of your fucking mind. Did you miss this:

    RUDY GIULIANI’S CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN IS STEVE FORBES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’ll say this again, the Campaign Chairman for Rudy Giuliani is none other than Steve Forbes!

    Giuliani has more prominent libertarians backing him than all other Presidential candidates combined.

    Ron Paul’s got two: Ed Thompson and Barry Goldwater, Jr.

    Mitt’s got a few more – DJ Bettencourt, Bill Weld, and Pete Hoekstra.

    Fred’s got Tom McClintock in his corner.

    Rudy’s got: Dennis Miller, MI State Rep. Jack Brandenburg, Sally Pipes, Bill Simon, two Cato Scholars, Gerald Reynolds and scores of others.

    And just about EVERYONE I’ve met with the Rudy campaign is a self-described “libertarian” Republican, people like Karl Bucus, Rudy’s PA Co-Chairman or Jim Sykes, Rudy’s Top Communications Director.

    Get your head out of your ass. Most libertarians are supporting other Prez candidates besides Ron Paul, at least libertarians who matter. (Save Ed Thompson and Barry Goldwater, Jr. – I do give Paul credit for getting those two backers.)

  70. Sabotage, if your using ending the War in Iraq as a criteria, that would qualify one as more Fascist and certainly not “libertarian.”

    Libertarian means FIGHTING ISLAMO-FASCISM, not aligning oneself with it.

  71. OK, Ron Paul attackers in shirts over here… Ron Paul supporters in skins over there. Luckily there’s no girls here so we don’t have to worry about the bouncy-bouncy…

  72. Dondero, you’ve been hanging with libertarians for 30 years or whatever it is, and you think that rattling off some names is going to win this argument? Letting other people do your thinking for you is just so….evangelical.

  73. Dondero, you’re a self-described libertarian. That more than anything should tell you that being a “self-described libertarian” doesn’t make you an actual libertarian.

  74. Chombo,

    The key word is “self-described”. I doubt that anyone besides Rittberg would agree with that self-description.


  75. Rittberg,

    Is it your contention that Forbes has shown Rudy the error of his ways, and that he is no longer a tax-and-tax, spend-and-spend (or worse still, a borrow-and-spend) socialist gun grabber?

    Logic really isn’t your long suit, is it?


  76. “National Security is a Civil Liberty…”

    That is correct as long as you equate “National Security” with a collective right to self-defense.

    If you think taxpayer subsidized protection, for a private company, from the inherent risk of doing business in other countries is “National Security” then no, “National Security” is not a civil liberty.

    Anyone that defends the Iraq occupation on the basis of “National Security” does so on faith alone.

    “Democrat Mike Gravel is more libertarian than Ron Paul…”

    I know Gravel supports regulating the internet, a global carbon tax, a progressive “fair” tax, universal government healthcare and expansion of hate crime legislation but maybe you can point out some more of his “libertarian” positions.

    However, if he ever backs Rudy, I’m sure Dondero will let us know that Mike Gravel is a “prominent libertarian”.

    At least we now know Dondero’s definition of “libertarian”. In his own words…

    “Libertarian means FIGHTING ISLAMO-FASCISM…”

  77. “All one has to do is check his record to see this.”

    I checked his record. Ron Paul’s is better.


  78. While Fred is almost as libertarian as Rudy or Obama, I think I will stick with our man Ron Paul for now.

  79. I think it’s laughable to call someone like Fred Thompson a “libertarian hope.”

  80. Now that the Beltway Boys (cosmotarians to those of you in Rio Linda) have thoroughly destroyed the definition of “libertarian”, we need a replacement. What word shall we now use for someone who holds to an ideology of limited government, strong property rights, and individual liberty?

    While the definition is broad enough to cover lots of ground, if you stretch it to encompass Thompson, Giuliani and Richardson, it will shred.


    Shut up. Go away.

  82. Thompson Libertarian leaning? What are you smoking? A quasi fiscal conservative does not a Libertarian make.

  83. Ugg, another Eric “Stinky” Dondero sighting.

    “We only bomb them because we love liberty.”

    What the hell is becoming of the libertarian movement?

  84. What the hell is becomming of MY LIBERTARIAN MOVEMENT. I was here first you fuck!

    1985 buddy. 1985. That’s when I first became active in the Libertarian Party. That’s First voted Libertarian on board my Navy ship – absentee in 1992.

    That’s near 25 some years of hardcore libertarian political activism under my belt.

    What’s your start date Newbie?

  85. Back in the 1980s Libertarian Party, LP members respected the Pro-Defense position. There were many Libertarian Defense Caucus members back then, like Gene Burns, Sam Steiger, Earl Ravenal, John Hospers, Cliff Thies, Mike Dunn and Sam Wells.

    The Party was centered around “Fiscally Conservative/Socially Tolerant.” Foreign Policy didn’t come up much, cause everyone knew that it was divisive and that there was a very strong strain of Pro-Cold Warrior amongst Libertarian Party regulars.

    Now asshole Anti-War Leftists from have infiltrated our libertarian movement, and have attempted to whitewash libertarian political history to make it seem like the Libertarian Party was alwasy Pacifist/Anti-War.

    No, no, no, no, hell no!

    Over my dead body. Over my dead body.

    Ain’t gonna happen, so long as I’m alive. And I’ve got another 40 + years to go.


  86. I agree, if you spread the word libertarian to include Leftist Anarchist scum like Brandybuck it loses all its original meaning.

    Brandybuck and other types need to leave our libertarian movement, and go off and re-join the San Francisco Lefty crowd where they came from.


  87. Chombo writes:

    Dondero, you’re a self-described libertarian. That more than anything should tell you that being a “self-described libertarian” doesn’t make you an actual libertarian.

    Eric responds:


    Or, petitioning for Libertarian Party ballot access in bumbfuck Western Nebraska in the middle of Winter when it’s 16 degrees and gusty.

    Or, spending mid-August in Palm Springs, California collecting petition signatures for Property Rights initiatives with no shade and 116+ degree weather in front of a Wal-Mart.

    That’s what really makes on a libertarian. I’ve done all of these. What about you?

  88. Rittberg,

    I was handing out campaign literature for Ed Clark in 1980, so I’ve been a libertarian for five years longer than you’ve been pretending to.

    How do you reconcile your claim to being a libertarian with your support for big-government socialist gun-grabbers like Rudy and Fred?


  89. “Over my dead body. Over my dead body. ”

    You really should consult a good shrink over these martyrdom fantasies of yours.


  90. Dondero:

    How is spending billions of dollars on “defense” considered fiscally conservative?

    We spend more than almost all other countries combined on “defense”, have over 700 bases overseas and the war in Iraq has cost close to 500 billion dollars. Does that fit into your idea of fiscally conservative?

    This is not Libertarianism whatsoever. If you want to fulfill your death wish, why not go to Iraq and defend your brand of Libertarianism. Maybe you can convert some Muslims to your political philosophy, but I highly doubt you would be as tough as you act here.

    You will not be missed.

  91. Dondero,

    Is this an authenticity contest? Are people supposed to simply concede that whomever has spent the most time standing in the dark, driving rain, snow, or birdshit announcing themselves to be “Libertarian” is by that virtue correct on matters of policy? Because if so, then we’re debating semantics, and I think it’s irresponsible to be doing that when the matter at hand is national security. Since I know you take national security seriously too, let’s discuss what it actually means.

    The reason national security is a means to the ends of civil liberty and not a civil liberty in and of itself is that entities cannot be attributed rights. Only individuals have rights; nations are endowed with their power to defend in order to protect the rights of the individuals that make them up. Now, I’m sure you’re already familiar with this line of reasoning already: wherever coercive power goes, liberty is encroached upon. In theory, we accept these minor encroachments because they’re necessary in order that we’re protected from major encroachments, such as might occur if a would-be dictator invaded from outside America or launched a coup from within.

    The problem is, there are people in Washington who understand that trade-off but see little value in individual rights. Yes, I’m sure there are people in Tehran who think that too, but they aren’t the ones who can take away our rights; only the ones in Washington can do that. Doesn’t it make you the slightest bit suspicious of claims made by the state when the rationale is for curtailing individuals’ privacy, freedom to assemble, freedom to bear arms … ?

    Particularly from a candidate who once cheerfully announced that freedom means “the willingness of every individual person to defer to lawful authority,” and that prosecutor was an ideal job for an idealistic man because “you never have to do the wrong thing.” Surely you don’t believe that lawful authority is never wrong; that’s an unquestionably un-libertarian sentiment, particularly stark in the age of Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton. And yet, you don’t for a moment doubt Mr. Giuliani’s motives? Was one Steve Forbes endorsement enough … ?

    Finally. The problem with the terms “pro-war” and “anti-war” is that technically, war as an abstract shouldn’t even be the issue. The only important question regarding whether or not to go to war is why. The ends are what matter. If you’re “pro-war” it means that you like wars in general, maybe just for the fuck of it; if you’re “anti-war” it means that you wouldn’t fight to defend yourself. Both are ludicrous attitudes. The cleverest rhetorical feat ever performed by the White House over the Iraq War was convincing the American electorate that the choice was between “toughness” and “pacifism.” In fact neither of those are as important as what the real ends to this particular war were – and a fine job, because that’s the part that nobody could quite stay consistent on.

    The only conclusion I find myself able to reach about you, Mr. Dondero, is that you’re entirely too naiv? and trusting of government, and of those who would govern. Is that how you earned the right to call it “your” libertarian movement?

  92. It’s never been a better time to be a libertarian.

    All the candidates are advocating libertarian ideas in some form.

    Clinton – does not want to nationalize food production

    Obama – does not want to station troops in Russia

    Edwards – wishes to allow churches to exist

    Giuliani – will not bomb England

    McCain – will keep the highest marginal income tax rate below 90%

    Huckabee – will not round up gays into concentration camps (I need to double-check this one)

    Romney – will not mandate the wearing of ‘garments’ among the entire population

    Thompson – will not sign a federal law requiring Marx to be taught as truth to all 7th graders

    Paul – just some old racist coot, can’t really find much good on him

  93. Dondero ejaculated:


    Eric, I’m beginning to see that you did these things not because you actually believe in the philosophy, but because you saw them as opportunities for self-promotion and aggrandizement.

    You could have been a far better televangelist than you will ever be a libertarian.

  94. Indeed, a lot of “libertarians” seem to wingnuts who are pretending to be mavericks.

  95. How is Giuliani a “libertarian-leaning” candidate? The man is an authoritarian who favors abolishing gun rights, favored extend NYC public schools weeks, and whose only claim to fame is his own self-promoted handling of the 9/11 attacks and reducing crime in New York by imposing harsh responses to relatively minor crimes.

  96. I actually think that libertarians have more in common with solid American conservatives than with the political left. That’s not to say that libertarians and conservatives agree on everything, and this assumption discounts “neocons”. However, since the traditional ideas in the US are largely individualist, while the left is ultimately collectivist, libertarians will necessarily have more in common with cons than leftists. This is demonstrated not just with the common belief we share in economic freedoms (property rights, free trade, and minimal regulation and taxes) but also in commitment to personal freedoms(ie the right to bear arms(self-defense), political speech, freedom of the press(do you see conservatives or libertarians advocating the “Fairness Doctrine”?), association, and, in most cases, the freedom to live as one pleases as long as one does not force others to support it. I would say that former Sen. Barry Goldwater best epitomizes this harmony of libertarian and conservative views.

  97. The Libertarian movement is dead now that those who openly decry the ‘Griswold v. Conneticut’ decision have taken root in it.

    Those who think the “right to privacy” is judicial “activism” need a refresher course in the basics of self-determination.

    And Dead Thompson is one of those who would deprive a citizen of such.

    Good riddance.

  98. Tabin tastes the smear campaign against Ron Paul and finds that it is good. His father is the father of lies.
    Fred Thompson is no more libertarian than any other warmongering fascist in the campaign.

  99. Fred Thompson heart is not in this race. He has said several times that “people” convinced him to get into this thing.

    It is kinda of ironic that the one man that probably would be the best president of the whol bunch is the man who really doesn’t want the job to begin with.

  100. Ah yes, conservatives (and “conservative” now means wingnut) are so close libertarians…

    * Imperialist foreign policy (Iraq War and much more).

    * Exploiting terrorism for both political gain and to promote an authoritarian agenda. Indeed an Orwellian redefinition of the word “freedom” to mean something quite different. Consider “security theater” at the airport, warrantless wiretapping, FBI harrassment of Iraq War opponents — Quakers were targeted in a “terrorism” investigation ! –, and various PATRIOT act outrages.

    * Faith-based initiatives.

    * $3 trillion federal budget.

    * Flagrant violations of the Presidential Records Act.

    * Hundreds of “signing statements.”

    * Department of Homeland Security.

    * Torture, excuse me, “enhanced interrogation.”

    * A $700 billion military budget.

    * The personality cult around GWB (think back to 2001-2004).

    * ?1 = $1.46.

    * Cheney as part of the legislative branch, or was it the executive ?

    * The DHS color-coded terrorism alert indicator. Does FOX News still show it on their news crawl ?

    That’s “conservatism” in action, folks.

  101. Dr. Freud,

    Kinda like Ron Paul voting for:

    1) $231,000 pork for a Urban Center in san Franciso

    2) $129,000 for a Christmas tree

    3) $500,000 Mule Museum in California

    4) $300,00 Technology Training center in California

    Voting for a federal money for a trolly and theatre in his district(Washington Post 10/12/07)

    Voting against free trade agreements with Australia, Singapore, Vietnam and Bahrain

    That’s hard-core paleo-libertarinism for you folks. Do as I say not do as I do

  102. Huckabee – will not round up gays into concentration camps (I need to double-check this one)

    The Huckabee quotes I’ve seen support your statement. It was “anyone with AIDS” he wanted to lock up.

    Too bad Fred Thompson had to run his primary campaign while all the Hollywood writers were on strike.

  103. Dondero,

    I flew a biplane through a hurricane, dropping leaflets over Suwwannee County for a Libertarian candidate for the Florida State Senate.

    I cut all the fingers off my left hand with a hedge clipper to impress the voters of Hawaii while canvassing for Harry Browne.

    I moved to the wartorn Niger delta for a year to serve as a missionary for the Libertarian Party.

    But most importantly, I’m not voting for Giuliani. That’s what makes me more libertarian than you.

  104. So chombo what do you know about libertarinism that Martin Anderson, Walter Olsen, William Simon, Jr and John McGinnis don’t know since they all are backing Giuliani.

    I will take Martin Anderson alone over the Rockwell groupies as a brian trust anyday of the week

  105. I know that libertarians don’t like warrantless wiretaps, kidnapping, and torture. That’s what I know.

  106. I agree but the USA has been doing that long before Giuliani was even conceived in his mother’s womb.

  107. Perhaps Reason should finally consider a Real Libertarian Presidential candidate. There are several of them running for the nomination of the real Libertarian Party, e.g. George Phillies http://ChooseGeorge.Org

  108. Libertarian Party? Pah Leeez!

  109. Dr. Freud,
    Most of the things you cite are more products of neoconservatism rather than the traditional American conservative views.
    1.imperialist foreign policy-If you look at most of the foreign wars the US has gotten into in the last century, it was usually under “progressive”(left-leaning) presidents. Ex. Woodrow Wilson-WWI, FDR-WWII, Harry Truman-Korean War, LBJ-Vietnam War. Meanwhile, the presidents who ended the Korean and Vietnam wars were both Republicans (Eisenhower and Nixon). This pattern continues up til’ Reagan, which is also where neocons(generally disillusioned liberals) first show up.
    2.Exploiting terrorism for political gain-Something that is still more neocon than conservative, but one that many conservatives bought into. You got me there.
    3.Faith-based initiatives-Many conservatives actually consider this an unwelcome concession to the welfare state, as well as creating a situation where private, religious organizations are more likely to succumb to govt. control.
    4.Usurpation of govt.-This is more GW Bush than conservative.
    5.3 trillion dollar fed. budget-conservatives dislike that, too.
    I think that many conservatives found themselves forced to choose between tax-spend-regulate-elect liberals, and 1/3 conservative,1/3 neocon, 1/3 giant douche weirdoes like Bush and opted for what they saw as the lesser of two evils.

  110. I think Dondero is reminiscing of a Libertarian Party without women.

  111. 1) What matters is not wars of the past but the wars of today and, unfortunately, perhaps tomorrow.

    How many right wingers think that the GWOT is a fake, contrived to create a state of permanent war ? Not many, I think. It’s Democrats (and many independents) who want out of Iraq. Meanwhile, it’s generally right-wingers who call leaving Iraq a surrender to terrorism (that the Iraq-terrorism connection is bogus is a whole other matter).

    All of the GOP candidates who have a shot at the nomination are pro-war. Mitt “Double Guantanamo” Romney is probably the least likely to start a crazy war (unless he thinks it would make him popular, perhaps) and Rudy is all but guaranteed to start one.

    LBJ foolishly decided to wade into Vietnam and FDR didn’t turn the other cheek when Japan hit Pearl Harbor, but if you want a war today, better vote for a Republican.

    4) GWB’s usurpation was common knowledge by 2004. Yet the GOP re-nominated him (with no opposition) and “conservatives” voted overwhelmingly for him in November.

    5) A lot of conservatives don’t seem to mind big government, as long as the GOP controls the purse strings.

  112. Economist –

    (Are you really an economist who opposes public education and any form of economic regulation? Or are you not an economist?)

    If you were a “libertarian”, or to put it another way, if there were any such thing as a non-hypocrite “libertarian”, why would you NOT prefer a “tax-spend-regulate liberal”, who would tax only a little more (arguably a good deal less in the long run), and spend and regulate in ways that would have only a mild impact on you? And who would tend to protect (or at least leave alone) your most precious rights, like freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, habeas corpus, right to a trial, and so on?

    Why on earth would you prefer a war-mongering, kleptocratic, secretive authoritarian? It makes no sense.

    If “liberty” were your concern, it’s obvious that you would prefer the Democrat. George Bush has done more to trample on liberty in seven years than a “politically correct liberal” could do in seven thousand years.

    When seemingly “intelligent” people profess patently illogical/contradictory positions, hypocrisy is the usual explanation.

    Half the comments here are from overt superstitious authoritarians who make no pretense of caring about “liberty” at any rate.

    The other half seem to be from people like you, who eagerly submit to authority that mocks and shreds your “liberty”, but laughably label yourselves as “libertarians”.

  113. say what bill richardso and thompson, are you serious, fred thompson?

  114. “Is this an authenticity contest?”

    If Mr. Rittberg wanted people to honor him for seniority, he probably should have joined a teachers’ union.


  115. ” George Bush has done more to trample on liberty in seven years than a “politically correct liberal” could do in seven thousand years.”

    FDR did rather more than Bush has in that vein, and did it within three terms..


  116. Dondero, I will not stoop to your low level of discourse.

    At the very minimum, libertarianism is about small government. Not just smaller than the other guy wants it, but smaller than it was when the libertarian movement started. Whether that’s 1985 when you blessed it with your presence, or earlier does not matter. Making government smaller than it was in 2000 just does not cut it. ONLY ONE candidate in the two major parties wants to cut back government to size smaller than it was in 2000. And that candidate is NOT Giuliani or Romney or Thompson or whomever else you’ve fallen in love with today. A libertarian needs to be for massive tax cuts and massive spending cuts. And to be more than a mere fiscal conservative, he needs to at least be talking about decriminalizing most narcotics, and legalizing other victimless crimes like prostitution and gambling.

    As for foreign policy, you keep using the phrase “strong on defense”. But interventionist foreign policies and offensive wars are not “defense”. Surely in one of your multilingual dictionaries you can look up the word “defense”. The candidate you keep shitting on is for a strong defense. He wants to bring the troops home so they can defend us here at home, instead of offending against people half a planet away. There are better ways to defend against potential terrorism than to step up our interference in the Middle East.

    If you can get past your blind hatred of non-interventionists, you might start to realize that Ron Paul is far more libertarian than any of the other candidates. That doesn’t mean you have to support him, but if you have any brain cells left, you have to stop labelling as “libertarian” the candidates you are supporitng.

  117. Freud, you’re not as smart as you think you are.

    Unfortunately, speaking as a libertarian myself, that goes for a lot of my brethren.

    The Democrats are going to give us their own list of wars in third-world hells, except in their case, they aren’t even going to do it for what they perceive as this nation’s best interests, but merely to prove their supposed morality.

    Domestically, I like Paul. Foreign affairs I don’t really agree with any of the candidates.

    Nonetheless, with regard to Thompson – he talked about natural rights, reducing the size of government, restoring federalism and the rule of law, and reforming the entitlement disaster. In this regard, he stood head and soldiers above the other Republicans. Props to Reason for at least allowing an article to acknowledge this, at the risk of pissing in the libertarian pool.

  118. Eric Dondero,

    You listed as libertarians:
    Steve Forbes, Bill Weld, Dennis Miller, Sally Pipes?

    No one owns the word “libertarian,” and I won’t quibble with your choice to label these folks as “libertarians.”

    But I will say that I became involved in the libertarian movement (in the early ’70s, years before you did) because I disagreed with folks like these, folks most people would call, I think it is fair to say, “conservatives” (or, for one or two, even “liberals”).

    I don’t much care about the label. But I think you do need to understand that many of us who have long called ourselves “libertarians” and long been involved in the “libertarian” movement consider it self-evident that the US government’s attempts to sacrifice American lives, liberty, and property in pursuit of Utopian goals abroad is just as foolish and wrong-headed as attempts to do the same domestically.

    Let me put this bluntly: we are not on the same side you are on. We are your political opponents.

    And, as it happens, we seem to have a rather larger movement, let’s call it the “Paulist movement” to avoid squabbling over the word “libertarian,” than you do.

    Consider this a formal notice of divorce. We are not members of your movement or any movement you would be comfortable in, and we never will be.

    Let’s stop juvenile arguments about the “real” meaning of the word “libertarian” and face the reality that we have here two separate, distinct, and opposed political movements. You and Reason are on one side; we are not on your side.

    Personally, I think your movement lacks any contemporary relevance or, indeed, any significant level of popular support: I didn’t even know your Libertarian Republican club still existed, or that you personally had a new name, until I saw your squealing about Congressman Paul (I was a member of your Republican Liberty Caucus years ago, but quit when I realized your utter irrelevancy).

    Dave M. in Sacramento

  119. “John C. Randolph | January 19, 2008, 11:43pm | #
    ” George Bush has done more to trample on liberty in seven years than a “politically correct liberal” could do in seven thousand years.”

    FDR did rather more than Bush has in that vein, and did it within three terms..


    I disagree, FDR was a disaster but many of his policies where overturned by the supreme court, and he could only dream of giving himself the power Bush has given himself or that congress gave him.

    Unfortunately for us I dont see the supreme court saving us this time…

  120. While a Democrat might launch a foolish intervention in a third world country (kind of like GHWB did in Somalia — whoops he was a Republican), I doubt it would cost $180 billion a year, kill several hundred thousand people, and shred the US’s international reputation.

  121. Freud, you’re not as smart as you think you are.

    Yes, but who is ?

    Anyway, take a peek at Fred’s own web site.

    The tax and budget programs, at least as outlined on his site, are rather vague. The tax plan would lead to a huge hole in the budget (sorry folks, “starve the beast” doesn’t work). He doesn’t specify the dramatic cuts in spending that would be required to avoid printing paper money like crazy. He says he wants to limit non-defense spending to inflation. ROAR !!! So much for spending cuts !

    He wants to save Social Security, Medicare, etc., not destroy them (fine by me, but then I’m — gasp ! — a Democrat).

    He’s in favor of promoting strong, traditional families (didn’t know that was government’s job) and combatting obscenity on TV and other media (ditto). He also says, “A healthy society is predicated on belief in God.” Hmm…

    He promises a “larger, more capable, more modern military” in part to deal with terrorists. I’m all for keeping up to speed with military technology, but a larger military ? And is terrorism a military problem or a police/intelligence problem ? Sounds like he buys into the very un-libertarian permanent war paradigm. Indeed, he also promises a “robust approach to homeland security.” Wonder what that means ? He wants to boost the defense budget to 4.5% of GDP (hello, Fred, it’s already there), build up a 775,000 man army, a 325 ship navy (c’mon Fred, Reagan wanted 600), and more Reagan imitation: he’s pro-missile-defense (SDI, yes, a different program, was best described as a “Maginot Line in space”).

    As for the nettlesome Middle East…

    Fred appears to be an Iraq True Believer and, as noted above, also buys into the GWOT permanent war paradigm.

    “Security assistance to Israel is a key pillar of U.S. foreign policy and provides a cost-effective way to ensure the security of one of America’s closest allies.” Really ? What do we gain from our Israeli policy ? “A nuclear-armed Iran will not be tolerated.” What does that mean ? “Hamas is another terrorist organization that must also be disarmed and disbanded.” Silly me thinking any real peace process would have to offer Hamas a seat at the table. Fred seems to buy into the idea that there has to be peace before the occupation can end when in reality, it’s the other way around.

  122. In light of all the anti-Ron-Paul and the war-mongering spew coming out of REASON magazine (and every other organization bankrolled by the Kochs), can someone out there give me a reason to continue my subscription?

  123. John C. Randolph –

    FDR did rather more than Bush has in that vein, and did it within three terms..

    First of all this is subject-changing. The topic at hand was not comparing Bush to long-past administrations, it was whether it makes sense for so-called libertarians to support Republican candidates in recent presidential elections. Your need to change the subject to FDR, who not only is not running but has been dead for decades, is a tacit acknowledgment that you could not make the case for libertarian support of Bush or other mainstream Republicans in the current milieu.

    Second of all, internment of Japanese-Americans and all, I find this statement false. To a large degree it’s a matter of subjective judgment, but my view is that Bush is at least as bad a violator of rights. To put it mildly.

    Third of all, it’s anachronistic and illogical to compare long-past figures to contemporary ones at any rate. Of course there were obvious elements of the status quo in FDR’s time that we now view as outrageous (or at least, that I certainly hope “libertarians” would view as outrageous…). Although I think Bush comes out badly even compared head to head with historical presidents, to be fair, the historical figures need to be judged in light of the standards and status quo of their times. Which makes Bush look more even worse in comparison to almost any, of course.

  124. There was a time when I had a good deal of respect for Reason. Then again, I used to watch Fox News. My, how the times change.

    I didn’t need to get pass the headline to see two unReasonable errors.

    To call Fred Thompson “libertarian leaning” represents a fundamental violation of Aristotle’s laws of identity. A is A – not B, and Fred Thompson has no valid credentials as a libertarian. How can any libertarian maintain a speck of philosophical consistency while also maintaining membership in the Counsel on Foreign Relations, undoubtedly one of the most anti-liberty and thus anti-libertarian organizations in existence?

    Secondly, Ron Paul’s second place finnish in Nevada, while perhaps not the first place victory that I would like to see, says that his campaign is still very much alive.

    I might expect this type of bent logic from The New York Times, but not from Reason. It’s obvious that Reason’s writers have spent so much time on top of their ivory tower, they are suffering from oxygen deprivation.

    I suggest you come down from up there, before you fall under your own weight with the rest of the old media.

  125. Indeed, indeed. And to repeat… If the GOP really was a flawed libertarian party (rather than the authoritarian party it actually is), why did it re-nominate GWB in 2004 with no opposition whatsoever ? Couldn’t these freedom-loving Republicans at least have insisted on having Cheney bumped from the ticket ? Nope. Nothing but cheers for Bush/Cheney ’04 !

    Think back to those heady post-9/11 years (if cognitive dissonance permits). Republicans worshipped GWB.

  126. Some stupid bitch in my history class wished death upon President Bush. Worse still, the rest of the class cheered for her populist stance. My history teacher, being the genius he is, said to her, “so would you like President Cheney?”

    The class groaned in cacophony.

  127. Is this a joke? Is this article about Thompson a joke??? It must be. You can’t be serious. First, you and Cato do all you can to derail the only libertarian in the entire race – slandering him with innuendo – and attempt to destroy the first slim hope of returning this country to something like the Constitutional Republic it was always supposed to be, where the rule of law counts for something and where liberty is given more than lip service – and then you publish this absurd and asinine piece about Fred Thompson being the only “libertarian” leaning candidate, which is patently absurd in every respect. It’s just simply mind boggling and reveals you people to be the shills and cowards you really are. I am done with you assholes. Friends of liberty – what an incredible joke.

  128. Mike Huckabee and John McCain are ridiculous as Republican conservatives….. First, I can’t believe how brainwashed the evangelicals are over this Baptist Preacher…. It is truely scary!!!

    Unfortunately, people believe these false fronts of McCain and Huckabee as they try to paint themselves as Reagan Republicans which is a joke. It is sad how the field of current candidates of the Republican Party is so weak and changes their platforms and platitudes with each poll. Example look at the speeches of McCain, Huckabee and Romney in Iowa and NH and then look how they quickly converted themselves into Conservative wannabees from their speeches in SC. (minus Romney)

    These are just typical lair politicians that change with the wind. I feel that we are looking at the true demise of the USA and the winds of change are now blowing in our face and not our backs. Immigration, tax policy, social security, pro-growth business attitudes…these are all lacking from the current Republican candidates. I would say the closest is Thompson to true Reagan conservatism. Unfortunately, the Republicans seem not to like what he has to say.

    I do believe that the chances for a Democrat in the White House in 2009 is becoming more of a reality and with that goes the last great chance that the Republican Party will have to prove to the nation that “true” Conservative values can make our nation a better place.

    Because the Democ”rats” will control the WH, Congress, and then appoint liberal judges and then defacto control the Supreme Court. With that accomplished look out because here comes far left loony Communist style socialism. Political correctness run a muck and social policies that will destroy free enterprise and run the USA into a deep recession….LOOK OUT because the writing is on the wall.

    As Pat Buchannan is fond of saying the death of the west is at our doorstep, the barbarians have broken down the door and are dictating the terms of our surrender. Heaven help the USA and I pray that we can save ourselves from our self because we have no one to blame but us…. No nation in the world can defeat the USA; the USA will be defeated by itself.

  129. Apparently everyone is a libertarian as long as their name is not Ron Paul–according to Eric Dondero.

  130. But what exactly is “Reagan conservatism,” I mean aside from a magic talisman for right-wingers facing (hopefully) the demise of wingnuttery ?

  131. John Schwartz –

    So why is it that Canada, Australia, Japan and Western Europe don’t have “loony leftist style communism”? Or do you think they do?

    By the way, you should have asked whoever brainwashed you to teach you how to spell.

  132. I was in France last April. It was just like the USSR in the ’30s !

  133. “FDR was a disaster but many of his policies where overturned by the supreme court, and he could only dream of giving himself the power Bush has given himself or that congress gave him.”

    I suspect that Mr. Korematsu would disagree.


  134. ” acknowledgment that you could not make the case for libertarian support of Bush”

    Excuse me? What gave you the bizarre idea that I advocated any such thing?


  135. Ah, an article that’s intended to perpetuate discussion of Ron Paul’s alleged racism, not-so-cleverly disguised as an article about Fred Thompson.

  136. “Eric responds:

    “You’re right Chombo. What makes one a real libertarian is STANDING OUT IN 10 DEGREE WEATHER IN ANCHORAGE ALASKA…

    “Or, petitioning for Libertarian Party ballot access in bumbfuck Western Nebraska in the middle of Winter when it’s 16 degrees and gusty.

    “Or, spending mid-August in Palm Springs, California… with no shade and 116+ degree weather in front of a Wal-Mart.

    “That’s what really makes on a libertarian. I’ve done all of these. What about you?”

    Amaaaaazing — what makes one a “real” libertarian is enduring bad weather, not adopting libertarian positions!

  137. acknowledgment that you could not make the case for libertarian support of Bush”

    Excuse me? What gave you the bizarre idea that I advocated any such thing?

    My original comment addressed a libertarian who made the silly claim that he voted for Bush as the “lesser of two evils”. I pointed out that among contemporary parties, this choice was illogical or hypocritical, since in the contemporary setting, it’s clear that, even if they did intend to “tax” more (which is highly debatable), “spend” more (which is probably impossible), or are guilty of the vague, sloganeering charge of “regulating” more, the Democrats who ran against Bush were clearly superior, from a libertarian perspective, to the authoritarian, war-mongering, constitution-shredding Bush administration. All current Republican presidential candidates who have ever been within the top three in any primary poll or election strongly endorse authoritarian, militaristic policies, so the situation is the same for 2008.

    Please follow the train of logic. I am not arguing that contemporary Democrat candidates are better, from a libertarian perspective, than Libertarian candidates, but that they are better, from a libertarian perspective, than Republican candidates. This whole thread is grounded in the ludicrous premise that Fred Thompson is “libertarian”, so my point is highly relevant.

    You joined in and replied that FDR had committed as many human rights violations as Bush. I disagree with that, although it is undeniable that significant human rights abuses took place during the FDR period, but if it were true, at any rate, it would merely be a historical footnote (and we have no idea what FDR’s Republican opponents would have done had they been president, either). It is relevant only if FDR is intended as an analogy to contemporary Democrats. That analogy would be false in this sense. The main contemporary Republicans are campaigning on openly war-mongering, authoritarian platforms; the major Democrats either or not, or at worst, could be said to do so in a far less extreme way.

    I suspect that Mr. Korematsu would disagree.

    Japanese-Americans are usually a majority Democrat constituency. The most well-known overt apologist for Japanese internment is Michele Malkin, a pro-Republican authoritarian right-winger. Again, if you are attempting to imply the analogy “Roosevelt interred Japanese-Americans, and Roosevelt was Democrat, therefore Obama will commit some similar violation if elected, because Obama is a Democrat”, in order to support the idea that “libertarians” can justify voting Republican, the analogy is a false one. If you are not attempting to imply that analogy, then the comment was irrelevant.

    During the FDR era, there were many fascist sympathizers on the American right, by the way.

    It is hypocritical to submissively support authoritarian, war-mongering policies on one hand, and call oneself a “libertarian” on the other. If libertarians wish to choose one of the two major parties, in the contemporary milieu, they should choose the Democrats, the clear “lesser of two evils” from a libertarian perspective. The other non-hypocritical choice would be a third party Libertarian candidate.

    If you (meaning readers in general) want to be a submissive/authoritarian groveler to Bush or his ideological heirs, it’s your life, but please don’t refer to yourself as a “libertarian”. Just admit that you are a right wing authoritarian.

  138. The “Libertarian Party” is not the be-all-end-all of “libertarian” thought. If the major people in that party are willing to flip on Ron Paul so quickly for harsh writings that aren’t even racist and that he didn’t even write, then let them have Rudy.

    The liberty movement certainly doesn’t need the Libertarian Party. It hasn’t accomplished anything in politics anyway.

  139. Tabin writes:
    Now his {Paul’s] history of associating with the uglier side of the paleolibertarian movement has come back to haunt him

    “Uglier” side?

    , and many once-sympathetic observers are wondering if his campaign might actually be bad for libertarianism.

    You mean, those that did not like him at the beginning and that, looking at the writing on the wall, had to concede he was receiving much more support that what these “once-sympathetic observers” expected, are now “wondering” if he’s bad for the movement? Talk about being terminally disingenuous.

    “Reporting from South Carolina, John Tabin asks if we’re seeing the end of the last great libertarian hope. No, not that guy. The other guy.”

    Maybe “reporting” is a very strong word in this case. Thompson was NEVER, EVER, a libertarian, not even in the broadest sense of the word… Except of course, and maybe, in a Beltway libertarian’s wet dream… But I do not think so.

    My opinion is that those that considered Thompson as a libertarian are actually estatophiliacs in heart and mind.

  140. Reason magazine has really gone down hill.

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