What About Bob?

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Ralph Z. Hallow has the latest on Bob Barr's presidential bid: Republicans are grabbing him by the collar and begging him not to run. Figuratively speaking.

Mr. Barr says even people who have tried to dissuade him understand why he thinks it important to raise issues from what he calls a "genuinely conservative" perspective and to offer alternatives to the positions of the two major-party candidates.

"In the month since we formed our exploratory committee, not a single Republican who has spoken with me to try and convince me not to seek the Libertarian nomination has disagreed with my reasons for considering a run," Mr. Barr told The Times yesterday in an e-mail exchange before leaving London on a flight to Atlanta.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told The Times yesterday that "Bob Barr will make it marginally easier for Barack Obama to become president. That outcome threatens every libertarian value Barr professes to champion."

I don't see a lot in Gingrich's ever-shifting "real change" agenda (last week, it featured a temporary gas tax cut. Real! Change-y!) to prove Barr wrong. Stacy McCain simply laughs at the re-packaging of John "political free speech is overrated, anyway" McCain as a vessal for libertarian values.

Barr's announcement comes at 11 a.m. in downtown D.C., and I'll have a report afterward.

NEXT: The Battle of Minneapolis?

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  1. John McCain also threatens every libertarian value.

    But McCain wants to kill Iranians and torture people and Obama doesn’t.

    Advantage Obama.

  2. If the GOP didnt want Barr running, they could have nominated Paul. They didnt. They have no one to blame but themselves.

  3. Ha ha! /Nelson

    I know a few die hard Anti-Dems (I dunno if they consider themselves Republicans) that will drop their McCain vote and go for Barr.

  4. That outcome threatens every libertarian value Barr professes to champion.

    I’m no Obama nut, but I hardly see him as less libertarian than McCain. If Obama is serious about transparent government, that could be a good step to offset some of his other faults.

    With McCain, the only positive is his budget hawkishness. But fighting against earmarks while prolonging a massive foreign war is like dusting the shelves and ignoring the 800 lb. gorilla taking a dump in your den.

  5. Just saw Borat this weekend. The scene where he meets with Barr, gives him some cheese as part of “traditional Kazakhstan” hospitality, and then tells him his wife made it from her breastmilk is priceless.

  6. If the GOP is really worried about Barr costing them election, they can hurry up and get the state laws changed to make the ballots IRV style.

    Then, they can hope that more of the Barr voters pick McCain over Obama as their 2nd (or 3rd, I think the Constitution party would have my 2nd) choice.

    With the Democrats having to worry about Nader-type 3rd parties, in ought to be a bipartisan decision to change the ballot.

    Just kidding, the big 2 cant survive if the “wasting your vote” argument goes away.

  7. Bob Barr will have to support crake cocain legalization before I take his libertarian credentials seriously.

  8. The republicans are now so anti-libertarian that the prospect of an Obama presidency, compared with a McCain one, doesn’t threaten libertarian values at all.

    I loved a lot of the stuff in Gingrich’s “contract with America”, but by now that’s ancient history. The republicans have gone so thoroughly against libertarian values in the past decade that there’s really nothing left for us in the republican party. They’ve completely alienated what used to be one of their core constituencies, and they still think there’s some reason why we should continue to support them?

    The one advantage of a McCain presidency is that government would remain divided. I really don’t like the idea of either party controlling the house, senate, and presidency. However, McCain is buying into Bush’s perpetual war thing, and for me that trumps all other issues.

  9. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told The Times yesterday that “Bob Barr will make it marginally easier for Barack Obama to become president.

    That’s fucking rich, coming from the guy holding the knife when the libertarians got stabbed in the back.
    You go to hell newt, you go to hell and you die.

    This is why I’d support Barr, and paradoxically why I could never support Barr. I would love to see the LP run a candidate that would tear apart the Republican Party and leave it gasping and moaning. On the other hand, Barr is revealing that he really is a conservative and running as a LINO.

  10. The delicious irony is the part we want, Warren. Oh yah, and for the GOP to be punished for that knife you referenced.

    So, Barr gets targeted by the LP and loses his seat, switched to the LP and now targets McCain?

    This is what gets me out of bed in the morning.

  11. McCain has improved on economic topics. He stands up for free trade and wants people who buy their own health insurance to get the same tax treatment as people who get insurance through work. His track record on civil liberty topics is typical for congress. He still wants to increase legal immigration. He also spoke out against torture from the start.

  12. Great posts so far…..

    I just want to add a personal view on political culture. Borat is the contemporary version of de Toqueville – a foreign traveler providing a diary of the American political landscape – and it wasn’t pretty.

    Barr fit right in with the Birmingham neo-Confederacy, the misogynistic frat-boys, the rodeo homophobes, the Jew haters, the “born-again” Christian nutcases with real Congressmen dancing around those speaking in tongues, etc.

    THAT is the America than the rest of the world sees….

  13. jtuf – even though what you’re saying makes sense, the GOP has told libertarians/conservatives so many lies about its non-existent “small government bona fides” that we’re just not in the mood to hear it anymore.

  14. Borat is the contemporary version of de Toqueville – a foreign traveler providing a diary of the American political landscape – and it wasn’t pretty.

    Yes, Sascha Cohen is just like de Toqueville. How did I not see this before? It’s not comedy, it’s sociology!

    I would also like to note that the naked wrestling scene was possibly the most insane scene I have ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot of crazy shit. Cohen’s eye for the aesthetically disturbing is excellent.

  15. shrike – your ill-formed, ignorant prejudices mean that you fall more in line with those you profess to despise.

    Go ahead and send some quotes or links that show that Barr is misogynistic, a neo-Confederate, homophobe…or whatever.

    You don’t have any; he’s a white male conservative from the South, so you think that makes it alright to be a bigot. Guess what? you’re still an ignorant yokel…you just happen to be a liberal yokel.

  16. Borat is the contemporary version of de Toqueville

    I think Borat is exactly what Tocqueville said democratic peoples would become. All glitzy or shocking, no substance.

  17. jtuf –
    does it make you at all curious that these “improvements” have come just as he was running for president?

  18. I think Borat is exactly what Tocqueville said democratic peoples would become. All glitzy or shocking, no substance.

    Man, is there any theme older than “This generation is going to hell…damn kids!”?

  19. So here’s my question, shamelessly stolen from the inimitable Dave Weigel:

    Is 2008 LP nominee Bob Barr going to get treated any better than that Congresscritter from Georgia, 2008 Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney?

    (Assuming both of them are nominated?)

  20. Barr fit right in with the Birmingham neo-Confederacy,

    You mean the stuffy dinner party crowd that was shocked by Borat’s retrograde views on women and the retarded?

    the Jew haters,

    I don’t recall seeing any American Jew-haters in Borat. There was a very nice Jewish couple running a B & B, and a bunch of people who didn’t rise to the bait when he said he needed to defend himself against Jews.

    the misogynistic frat-boys, the rodeo
    homophobes, the “born-again” Christian nutcases with real Congressmen dancing around those speaking in tongues, etc.

    Really, I didn’t see anything that tied Barr to any of those people, any more than the gay pride parade, the feminists, and the homies that were also portrayed in the movie.

  21. I think Borat is exactly what Tocqueville said democratic peoples would become. All glitzy or shocking, no substance.

    I should note that when I say “no substance”, I don’t mean that its bad or unentertaining. I just mean that its not a deep political commentary on the politics of the United States. Its dumb humor and it succeeds at that .

  22. Advice from a bitter Nader2000 voter:

    Vote for the candidate you think would make the best president, no matter what.

    Strategic voting is a losing bet. It almost certainly isn’t going to work out the way you think it will.

    If that’s Barr, then it’s Barr. If it’s McCain, it’s McCain. If it’s Obama, it’s Obama.

    You’ll never regret it later, while you very well could regret outsmarting yourself with some Rube-Goldberg voting strategy.

  23. Man, is there any theme older than “This generation is going to hell…damn kids!”?

    I didn’t say that I didn’t find the movie entertaining. I also didn’t say that I think Tocqueville was correct. However, if he is correct, then in my opinion Borat is a perfect example of what he was talking about. That doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the movie, though.

  24. “.” – It was just general commentary about how every intellectual thinks that each successive generation is increasingly devoid of substance.

    There has never been a shortage of hand-wringing over entertainment. It was just an observation.

  25. Yes, Sascha Cohen is just like de Toqueville.

    He said “the contemporary version of…”

    Of course the contemporary version is going to be much, much dumber.

    I like the little trophy Borat’s sister holds up when he says she’s “Fourth best prostitute in Kazakstan.”

    And the “Blair Witch Project” shot in the bed and breakfast owned by the little old Jewish couple. So much awesome in that movie.

  26. Why don’t you do something useful?!

    Dig your mother a grave!!!

  27. If anything, I thought “Borat” portrayed Americans as being gracious (almost to a fault) nearly as often as it portrayed us as being intolerant. See: driving instructor, Jewish couple at the B & B, black guys who teach Borat how to “loosen up.” It was a conflicting portrait somehow encapsulated perfectly by the xenophobic but somehow convivial frat boys.

  28. So much awesome in that movie.

    If anything, I thought “Borat” portrayed Americans as being gracious (almost to a fault) nearly as often as it portrayed us as being intolerant.

    True dat. Hell, even Barr managed to choke down (barely) his breastmilk cheese without giving offense.

  29. Just saw a news item on CNN about
    Barr announcing his candidacy.

  30. Is 2008 LP nominee Bob Barr going to get treated any better than that Congresscritter from Georgia, 2008 Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney?

    When Barr starts punching punching security guards and his confidants start ranting about the “JOOS” costing him the election, I imagine he’ll get treated like McKinney. Until then, I expect he’ll get a modicum of respect.

  31. Obama will no doubt be appointing really dreadful judges. The idiots who don’t vote McCain will be responsible.

    There are also the many other appointed positions that the Democrat Senate has bottled up.

    Maybe we will see how the Chicago Machine will run the country?

  32. The idiots who don’t vote McCain will be responsible.

    Are you really calling me an idiot?

    The only idiots around here would be libertarians, or even conservatives, who think they have a home in the GOP any more.

    I don’t think I’m an idiot for walking away from an abusive relationship, here.

  33. Certainly the Council of Conservative Citizens will endorse Barr.

  34. Don’t you idiots get it? If Barack Obama wins the White House, he’s likely to appoint judges who will uphold habeas corpus rights for people seized by the government, strike down laws that allow for the torture of said captives, require warrants for wiretaps and physical searches of property, and deny the president the power to declare people to be beyond the protection of the Constitution with the stroke a pen.

    Not to mention, we won’t be seeing SWAT raids on Ob/Gyn offices any time soon.

    The horror, the unspeakable horror…

  35. Not to mention, we won’t be seeing SWAT raids on Ob/Gyn offices any time soon.

    And then the terrorists will have won!
    AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

  36. strike down laws that allow for the torture of said captives

    The President can do that?

    deny the president the power to declare people to be beyond the protection of the Constitution with the stroke a pen.

    Oh sure sure…he’s going to deny himself power.

    Not to mention, we won’t be seeing SWAT raids on Ob/Gyn offices any time soon.

    Do we see those now?

    I don’t know if you expect me to swoon over your Messianic vision of Obama, joe, but it ain’t gonna happen.

    Also, guess who else would do all those things, and end the Federal Drug War?

    Bob Barr.

  37. So Barr is spreading stories that he is the GOPs worst nightmare, knowing that what the LP wants more than anything is to deny McCain the Presidency and thus perpetuate the LP fantasy that they matter, and Reason swallows this bullshit whole.

  38. joe,


    Vote for the candidate you think would make the best president, no matter what.

    What he said.

    See, people will agree with you.

  39. Ayn-Randian:

    strike down laws that allow for the torture of said captives

    The President can do that?

    I read that sentence as talking about things that judges can do, not the President.

  40. I noticed Shrike ran away with his/her tail between his/her legs. It’s about damn time.

  41. He also spoke out against torture from the start.

    And then he voted against the waterboarding ban after speaking out against it. What a man of principle.

  42. Ayn Randian,

    Yes, the president can appoint Supreme Court justices.

    Here’s a hint: if you think you think I just wrote something like, say, the president can strike down laws passed by Congress, go back and read it again before you “correct” me.

  43. Bob Barr has clearly passed the LibertarianTest*: Bob Barr‘s position on McCain’s weakest position is the same as McCain.

    * Under the LT, someone is placed in a cardboard box. If they’re unable to get out of the box after half an hour, they’re a libertarian.

  44. Since Paul won’t be on the ballot, Barr will have to do.

    With any luck, the Diebold machines will all go down on election day and the only people that got reciepts of their votes will be the conspiracy theorist libertarians. =P

  45. I noticed Shrike ran away with his/her tail between his/her legs. It’s about damn time.

    Why do you care?

    Because I attack the GOP authoritarian types like Barr? I don’t believe he has changed a bit.

    I don’t need government types in my life telling me that I don’t have a “right to privacy”.

    And you have to hit these GOP cheerleaders in their fucking mouth when they talk about “small government” and a “humble foreign policy” like Herr Bush did.

    And then defend and vote for that lying scumbag while he drives GOV from a $1.8 trillion footprint UP TO $3.1 trillion in one presidency whilst running around the world nation-building and imposing the Bush Doctrine on innocent people.

    We need a healthy Goldwater party – but the GOP is infested with BIG GOV snakes and will be until pit is cleaned out by the electorate.

  46. “Bob Barr will make it marginally easier for Barack Obama to become president.”

    True.

    “That outcome threatens every libertarian value Barr professes to champion.”

    False.

    My guess is that most of the Republicans who would vote for Barr would stay home and not vote at all if they didn’t have that protest vote against McCain available.

    While I’m all for divided government, a RINO president and a Democratic Congress ain’t very divided-y. About the best we can hope for is that the Democrats don’t run the table and get close to 60 votes in the Senate, since Republican senators, unlike Democrats, can and will filibuster.

  47. Bob Barr would be a disaster for the LP if he wins the nomination. I am willing to believe that he espouses less government than most social conservatives and now regrets some of his horrendous drug war legislation, but that is not enough for him to win my vote. If he is the candidate, he will cause the LP to be solidly identified with religious authoritarians. We do not need that.

  48. Republican senators, unlike Democrats, can and will filibuster

    Both sides have “filibustered” about equally well in recent decades. (Although nobody’s really filibustered, Mr.-Smith-Goes-To-Washington style, in years and years).

    I have to admit, I’ve come to appreciate the RZ-filibuster as a defacto supermajority requirement. With very few exceptions, the only good bill is a dead bill. Wake me when it starts being used to quash real reform; until then, I’m all for it.

  49. Arrgh. Should be EZ-filibuster.

  50. Screwball Bob Barr is more of a threat to McCain & with the MSM solidly Obamaniacs, you’ll see Barr’s candidacy levitate along with Ron Paul’s insurgency.

    Just as surely, you will not hear a peep about Ralph Nader, as the Obamania cabal doth not permit heresy from the left flank—only the right.

    Then if Obambi is elected, the Politburo will proceed to impose the “Fairness Doctrine” to get rid of any hint of dissent. Then we will proceed to socialism, the steppingstone to Communism.

    At least, that’s the plan. But the Cabal keeps these details to itself!

  51. In “Borat” the jew-hating was all done tongue-in-cheek by Sasha Cohen (who is Jewish), but this outtake:

    Throw the Jew Down the Well

    showed some Americans going along with the anti-Semitism.

  52. Exactly, Fritz. If Barr gets the nomination and gets a decent percentage of the vote (for the LP that is anything that has a positive integer left of the decimal point) I predict an LP move in his socially conservative direction and an abandonment of anything resembling libertarian principle except possible for 2nd Amendment issues. Possibly.

  53. Both sides have “filibustered” about equally well in recent decades.

    Like when the Democratic majority recently mustered up a whole 28 votes to stop funding the Iraq War?

    Or when the 40+ Democrats stopped all the assaults on the Bill of Rights and whatnot that occurred since 2000?

    Those gutsy Democrats?

  54. RC,

    I watched Al D’Amato give a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington-style filibuster back in ’93.

    It was some piddly little issue, about Brother typerwriters getting a contract instead of some NY-based typerwriter manufacturer, but it was pretty cool to see.

    He was wearing down, getting wobbly on his feet, when Daneil Patrick Moynihan walked into the chamber, through a door behind him. Moynihan walked up and patted him on the back, and Al jumped, and then gave this grateful smile.

  55. Also – I seem to recall a Hummer dealer and gun clerk giving advice to Borat on how he could maximize his “Jew kill” with their products….

  56. Also – I seem to recall a Hummer dealer and gun clerk giving advice to Borat on how he could maximize his “Jew kill” with their products….

    Nah. Borat was asking how many Gypsies he could kill with a Hummer.

    The gun dealer was showing him a Desert Eagle, which is an Israeli gun.

  57. Vote for the candidate you think would make the best president, no matter what.

    …You’ll never regret it later, while you very well could regret outsmarting yourself with some Rube-Goldberg voting strategy.

    If Browne hadn’t been running in 2000, I would have voted for Bush as the “lesser evil” that I thought he was at the time.

  58. ‘Mr. Barr says even people who have tried to dissuade him understand why he thinks it important to raise issues from what he calls a “genuinely conservative” perspective’

    Real Libertarians will recall that “conservative” is one of the opposites (along with “liberal” and “populist”) of “libertarian”. However, Barr is honest about it, as witness the large number of conservative Republicans his PAC has funded in the current election cycle.

  59. Obama will no doubt be appointing really dreadful judges. The idiots who don’t vote McCain will be responsible.

    The idiots who will be responsible are the idiots in the GOP who rejected limited govt and embraced welfare-warfarism, and made it impossible for us to vote Republican anymore. I keep hearing bullshit about “unity” from my Republican acquaintances, but unity’s a two-way street, my friends.

  60. George Phillies | May 12, 2008, 4:40pm | #

    Uh, shouldn’t you have a disclosure statement with that?

  61. “made it impossible for us to vote Republican anymore”

    I may not be able to either.

    I’ll puke if McCain picks the Huckster for VP.

    I’d probably stay home – but then my vote doesn’t matter anyway – you could put a yellow dog on the Republican ticket and it would win Kansas.

    Problem is that people in other states might stay home too.

    I wonder what living under the Chicago Machine will be like? At least the snow will get plowed.

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