Campaigns/Elections

Citizen Bob

How Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root took over the Libertarian Party

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The Bob Barr campaign couldn't have plotted it any better. The former GOP congressman-turned Libertarian Party contender announces his candidacy two short weeks before the LP convention, and grabs more free media than 2004 nominee Michael Badnarik received in a year. He arrives in Denver amid bellyaching and heckling and a sea of "Mary!" stickers, and gets reporters talking about the drama of a deadlocked Libertarian convention. C-SPAN stays glued to the proceedings for all of Sunday, through six ballots that turn out closer than the results of an Olympic track meet. And when it's all over, Barr gets both the nomination and a running mate, Wayne Allyn Root, whose views comport comfortably with Barr's own.

The results may have been ideal for Barr, but they weren't plotted out that way. Early in the balloting on Sunday, Barr's strategists—and the candidate himself—thought the Radical Caucus might have beaten them. The boos and catcalls that came when Barr supporters staged a whooping march around the convention floor were louder than they expected. The 25 percent Barr scored on the first ballot was lower than everyone expected. "The Barr campaign needs to be a steamroller to win this," Steve Kubby strategist Tom Knapp said early in the day. "They needed to win 40 percent to keep people from peeling off."

Barr didn't steamroll, instead grinding out a series of ties with radical favorite Mary Ruwart before the Las Vegas businessman Root dropped out and sent his support Barr's way, wrapping up the nomination.

Here's how Barr/Root won the nomination:

A Changed Party. The groundwork for Barr's win started building after the 2004 debacle, when Michael Badnarik ran an underwhelming purist campaign that satisfied no segment of the party. An estimated 2,000 people left the LP then, and activism dropped off substantially. The strongest anti-Barr candidates, Kubby and Ruwart, were old faces who'd run for the vice presidential nomination in 2000 and 1992, respectively. Ruwart had also run for the presidential nomination in 1984.

Mea Maxima Culpa. Barr could not have won if, like fellow major-party defector Mike Gravel, he'd jumped into the party right before the convention. Instead the Georgia congressman once famous for prosecuting the impeachment of Bill Clinton built credibility with the delegates by being able to refer to his two years in the party. When he mentioned this fact in his debate performance and pre-vote speech, some of the less-active delegates who'd been surfeited with anti-Barr rumors of "hijacking the party" were surprised. Barr complemented with a few staged "road to Damascus" moments in front of the delegates; standing up at the debate and apologizing for part (not all) of the Defense of Marriage Act, claiming he wished he'd joined the LP sooner. "I may not have committed as early as y'all," Barr said in his nomination speech, "but don't cast me aside because I'm a latecomer!"

The Media Drip, Drip, Drip. The press helped Barr in two ways. It was obvious even to Barr's enemies that the media had more interest in him than in anyone else; Mary Ruwart's pre-speech montage of clips, which included the iffy likes of a Longevity Magazine cover story and "Libertarian says return tax dollars" clips from previous unsuccessful runs for office, made Barr's exposure look that much more impressive. Then, Ruwart took a pounding from the media that even her throatiest backers couldn't ignore. LP activist Barry Hess could dismiss Barr as a creature of "the old media," but by the time delegates were voting on the fourth ballot, The Washington Times had run a story on the convention that mentioned Ruwart's unforgettable argument about child pornography, and whispers were flying around the convention hall.

The Lackluster "Stop Barr" Movement. Barr's enemies printed a series of fear-mongering leaflets for delegates, one going after his un-Libertarian voting record, another painting an Orwellian future of the party re-branding as "New Republicans" if Barr won. But they didn't do the harder work of digging through Barr's un-Libertarian statements, which in fact multiplied as he did his pre-convention media tour. The impact of, say, a YouTube video splicing together Barr's waffling answer on Hannity and Colmes about drug legalization, his comment that Republicans would split their tickets for him (voting against lower-ballot Libertarians in the process), and other heretical stuff could have been devastating. As it happened, there was no compelling, real-time evidence for delegates to contradict Barr's humble convention persona.

Fair Play. All weekend, the convention swirled with rumors that a crush of Barr delegates would show up at the 11th hour to rig the vote. Over 1,000 delegate slots were open, and less than 650 had registered by the end of Saturday. The word was out for other campaigns' delegates to deny credentials to latecomers. In the end Barr's campaign took advantage of a few empty slots in Southern states, but that was matched by the arrival of a few Ruwart and Kubby supporters who signed up to stop Barr. "It was a legitimate victory in the sense that there was not significant packing," said party co-founder David Nolan, a Kubby supporter, "and what packing there was came from more than one camp." Barr campaign manager Russ Verney said that his team only brought around 50 delegates to Denver, and won the rest of their support in the Sheraton, via one-on-one campaigning and arm-twisting.

With Enemies Like This…. Fringe candidate Christine Smith did Barr a favor by using her allotted, post-elimination speaking time to rant and rave before a national TV audience about Barr's "neo-con" conspiracy. Plenty of delegates had become familiar with, and repelled by, Smith's self-aggrandizing rudeness and all-around weirdness. Ruwart until that moment had been gaining strength by appearing a victim of public bullying and LP-trashing by Barr supporters. But for the crucial 15 minutes of Smith's rant, Barr seemed like a victim himself of people who were making the whole party look bad.

The Ghost of Losers Past. Anti-Barr (and, to a lesser extent, anti-Root) campaigners never convincingly argued that some other candidate could get more votes in November. The closest anyone came was Mary Ruwart's theory that disenchanted Hillary Clinton voters would be casting about for a woman to vote for, but that reeked of liberal gender politics and alienated as many people as it won over. The Barr-or-Ruwart choice was not zero sum: It was between a square peg candidate who could get a record number of votes and a round peg candidate who would probably get the 300,000 to 500,000 votes that the party has won since 1984. Ruwart's ill-advised Sunday leaflet, advertising endorsements from 1984 candidate David Bergland (228,111), 1992 candidate Andre Marrou (291,627), and 2004 candidate Badnarik (397,265), only emphasized that point.

What didn't help Barr? The 11th hour endorsement of oddball Daniel Imperato clearly didn't. After Imperato backed Barr, his sole supporter from Arkansas voted for Imperato on the first ballot anyway. On subsequent ballots, he backed Mary Ruwart. The much-discussed support for Barr in the national party probably cut both ways. It helped Barr that national officials considered him the strongest candidate. Former executive director Shane Cory worked for Barr on the convention floor, and at Sunday's victory banquet, party chairman Bill Redpath reminisced about bringing Barr into the party, waxing: "I've been saying all along we're going to have a hell of a presidential ticket this year." But all of that support just strengthened the resolve of the anti-Barr contingent. "If the nomination was stolen," David Nolan said, "it was stolen in the national office."

But even Nolan, the strongest and most-respected voice in the anti-Barr camp, was optimistic about the ticket once the dust settled. He could see Barr/Root drawing a Nader 2000-like 2 million votes; his worry was simply that Barr, like Nader, wouldn't follow through with party building after the election, thus wrecking the LP. Party unity, which was hard to find amid the raucous boos of Sunday, started to evolve a few hours after the ballots were counted. There was talk of Barr endorsing Steve Kubby, who narrowly missed the VP slot, for a 2010 run for governor of California.

And there was startlingly optimistic talk of the party banding together to prevent Republican efforts to kick them off ballots. Why was that optimistic? Because this year the LP finally has a candidate that could swing the election.

David Weigel is an associate editor of reason. Read his first three dispatches from the LP convention here, here and here.

Bonus video: On Tuesday, May 20, reason hosted a debate about "The Future of Libertarian Politics" featuring LP presidential hopefuls Wayne Allyn Root, Mike Gravel, and Bob Barr (Mary Ruwart was invited but unable to attend). Video excerpts of the conversation are below (approximately 10 minutes long). For more information, go to reason.tv.

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  1. [Nolan’s] worry was simply that Barr, like Nader, wouldn’t follow through with party building after the election, thus wrecking the LP.

    This is the million dollar question. Many o the voters that will vote for Bob Barr are not Libertarian. The question is how many of them will cast a vote for anyone other than Bob Barr who is also a member of the LP. How many of them will be willing to vote for LP candidates in subsequent elections?

    Only if bob Barr’s candidacy results in a sustained support for the LP will any party start trying to coopt its platform of individual liberty.

    Otherwise the Bob Barr’s campaign will not substantially change things.

  2. Otherwise the Bob Barr’s campaign will not substantially change things.

    That’s a possibility, but it’s at least worth a shot. If a pragmatic choice like Barr doesn’t work out, then by all means, go back to the purists and we’ll be stuck at .5% forever. All the pouting purists have had their way for 30 years, so lets try something a little different for once.

  3. My fear is that the main effect of Barr’s being on presidential ballots this fall (it being immaterial whether it was LP’s or any other “3rd” ticket) will be to keep McCain from moving “left”ward, and that in appealing more to the “right” for votes, McCain will wind up pitching more traditionalism that ne would otherwise, with no significant increase in libertarianism by McCain.

  4. I don’t think there’s any chance of the Barr candidacy having any impact on the McCain camp’s choice of issues.

    McCain can’t move to the libertarian side to try to account for the Barr candidacy. He’s too committed to the war, to the national security state, and to the President’s legacy of torture and contempt for civil liberties. McCain essentially defines himself by these things, so there’s no chance of him moving off of them.

    McCain may try to talk about small government more, but it will be pretty fruitless because 99% of small government advocates have woken up to the fact that with the exception of a small number of officeholders when the GOP talks about small government they’re lying. Maybe McCain can cover this flank by picking Coburn as a running mate, but there’s no sign he’s even remotely thinking about doing that.

    McCain’s entire candidacy will consist of offering more blood, more dead children, and more Star Chambers and torture chambers to his nationalist/warmonger base – with a dash of “Look at me, I’m a former POW who can’t lift his arms over his head!” on the side. He will not have any inclination to try to coopt the libertarian message to deal with Barr.

    Honestly, the point here isn’t to move McCain. It’s to destroy McCain, so that when people walk by McCain’s bloody and dishevelled political corpse on the road, they stop and say, “Hmmmmm…how can we avoid ending up looking like THAT guy?”

  5. While I wasn’t there, I agree with the opinion that Christine Smith’s lunatic rant might have been the final nail in the coffin for the purists. By the end of her nonsense blathering, I half-expected her to give the Sieg Heil salute.

    Get that woman a dildo. I have never seen a presidential candidate who needs an orgasm more.

  6. I have to say Christine Smith is a lunatic. When I watched C-SPAN, I thought it was insane. Mary Ruwart is a terrible choice for Prez, she has no speaking power and looks like a deer trapped in the headlights, I like her message but she’s better off in the LNC to help the LP not being President.

    Steve Kubby, I liked a lot. But he needs to drop his single-issue campaign, it’s never going to win him a nomination let alone a seat in office. He should start looking into running for Congress in his district or local government like Mayor of his town. That way he can build up executive experience.

    I’m glad to hear Barr and his supporters gave Kubby a standing ovation when he walked into their support room. It shows class on Barr’s part and I think he’ll really try to unite the party.

    In the end, I always thought the LP would nominate Barr/Root as a tactic. They’re going to get favorable coverage with the media and especially FOX News, with Murdoch already an ex-chairman with the Cato Institute and the favorable coverage they’ve given to Barr & Root. I expect them to make a dent this year.

    If the LP gets 5% of the vote, that’s a success and you can move on from there.

  7. Anybody have video of Smith’s speech? All I can find on youtube is a video of the audience booing her for about 30 seconds.

  8. If I’m not mistaken, Barr increased his total by 35 votes the round after Smith’s “speech,” and no conservatives had yet been eliminated. Barr response to her was good, too — something to the effect, “I guess she’s not going to vote for me.”

    And there was startlingly optimistic talk of the party banding together to prevent Republican efforts to kick them off ballots.

    Barr could be very helpful in this regard, as he probably knows all their dirty tricks. And he doesn’t seem the type of fellow who’d be afraid to use his own.

  9. McCain can’t move to the libertarian side to try to account for the Barr candidacy. He’s too committed to the war, to the national security state, and to the President’s legacy of torture and contempt for civil liberties. McCain essentially defines himself by these things, so there’s no chance of him moving off of them.

    Yes, and that was my point, but you fail to account for the fact that he still has a lot of room on the traditionalist side — you know, the stuff they often label “social conservative” now. He hasn’t appealed much to the traditionalists, but in rxn to Barr McCain may start pounding on things he hasn’t like sex & drugs & rock & roll.

    And it doesn’t matter much what Barr campaigns on or as, nor did it matter whether he was nominated by Libertarians, Green, Reform/Independence, Constitutionalist, or what. The analysts, media, and strategists will do a quick take on him, see him in the “conservative” pigeonhole they picked for him long ago, and decide the way for McCain to cut him off for voters on the right is to appeal to trads by promising to go after porn, pot, poker, and pole dancers.

  10. “Because this year the LP finally has a candidate that could swing the election.”

    To Obama. Unhappy as I am and always have been with McCain, I can’t rejoice over this.

  11. Ironically, I found these links via Christine Smith’s website:

    Bob Barr’s Real Record, Part I and
    Bob Barr’s Real Record, Part II.

  12. If the LP gets 5% of the vote, that’s a success and you can move on from there.

    If the LP gets 1.2 percent of the vote, Barr will be the party’s most successful presidential candidate ever.

  13. So what this means is, we’ve deliberately chosen to water down the libertarian message so we can loose elections by a lesser margin.

    I see, now at long last the LP is a “serious” party.

  14. Hardy, har-har!

    LP “purist” Barry Hess disses Bob Barr at the convention, but in 2004, is all buddy-buddy with Bob Barr and attempted to bring him on board the LP. Pic here:

    http://www.jasonpye.com/images/Barry%20and%20Bob.JPG
    If purists want to whine about barr being a “flip flopper”, they should first look at one of their own and ask why he does some amazing somersaults.

  15. So what this means is, we’ve deliberately chosen to water down the libertarian message so we can loose elections by a lesser margin.

    you keep saying we’ve watered down the message, and consistently fail to prove that very thing.

  16. McCain’s entire candidacy will consist of offering more blood, more dead children, and more Star Chambers and torture chambers to his nationalist/warmonger base

    But tell us how you really feel about him, Fluffy. Stop mincing words.

    Honestly, the point here isn’t to move McCain. It’s to destroy McCain

    That would be nice but I will reiterate my prediction that McCain is going to win. This is, as stated previously, solely a gut feeling and is not based on anything else.

  17. This is, as stated previously, solely a gut feeling and is not based on anything else.

    Gut check!

    Seriously though, dude…if your gut is giving you improbables like a McCain presidency routinely you really should have it checked.

  18. Episiarch, no offense, but do you seriously think anyone cares about your gut feelings?

  19. I’m with Episiarch; (well, I was)…I’m optimistic that Barr 2008 is going to sink McCain…whereas before I thought McCain was going to win.

  20. I am merely stating my gut feeling so that when (if) McCain wins I get my credit for having called it. If he loses I will conveniently forget my predictions.

    Also, Welch agrees with me. I can’t tell if that’s good or bad.

  21. McCain’s people (and others, like me) are going to make the point that a) McCain’s a war hero and he supports the military, b) Barr is similar to him on most other issues, and c) Barr is simply a hack who’s doing this for personal reasons.

    They’re going to make it clear that a ProtestVote would just be throwing it away, leaving Barr with simply the millions upon millions of libertarians. Oh, there are only a few hundred thousand of them? Oops.

    Of course, if Barr wasn’t just an establishment hack he could have a very powerful impact on the race, but frankly I think his interest in doing this is personal rather than in doing a public service. Is he writing a book or something?

    P.S. The photos at ChristineSmith’s site give me hope. I’m not going to name names, but considering the competition I’d be like BradPitt if I went to one of those events.

  22. Episiarch,

    You might be right, if the media keeps leading off stories on McCain’s weak points with sentences like this:

    John McCain on Monday defended his plan for veterans’ college benefits, as both the war hero and Democratic rival Barack Obama reached out to veterans on the Memorial Day holiday.

    Apparently the criteria for being a “war hero” have been seriously devalued. I know he endured a lot of suffering and all, and he deserves some measure of respect for that, but don’t you have to do something extraordinary that helps win a battle or something to be considered a “war hero”?

  23. I seriously can’t believe that McCain has the gall to argue that the troops want to stay in Iraq and “get the job done” but at the same time that giving college benefits to non-career military would cause them not to reenlist. I further can’t believe that the media let him get away with this.

  24. Now you are starting to see why he will win, Chris. He’s a maverick. He’s a straight shooter. A square gee. At least, that’s what the media believes no matter how untrue.

  25. Better Barack Obama than John McCain. I think….

  26. I guess we purists should have looked into Bob Barr’s record more thoroughly before trashing him. Guess we are too lazy.

    http://www.nolanchart.com/article3876.html

  27. I think Obama is slightly worse overall than McCain, but certainly not enough to vote for either bugger. What I want is for the LP to swing the election, get more than the margin of victory in swing states, and make both major parties start trying to coopt our issues — make the Dems push harder for libertarian social issues, and the Rs start heading back toward Goldwater conservatism.

  28. The purists deserve what they got. For years they have used the Nolan Chart to pull in members. They have allowed the party to use “conservative on economic issues/liberal on social issues” as part of the outreach. David Nolan himself is on record saying the membership oath is really about keeping out militia members.

    If voters form anything like a bell shaped distribution, then we should expect there to be more moderate libertarians than full-on ZAP based anarchists. Ergo, the recruitment strategy should result in a more moderate party over time.

    Only, the purists have counted on bait and switch strategy to radicalize the moderates thus brought in. This worked to a degree, but stopped working once a determined cadre called them on the BS.

    And calling the BS was much easier when the purists planted their heels on the most outrageous positions such as personal secession, zero taxes, and child pornography. It became an issue not just of electability, but principle.

    A more honest LP could have stayed pure. Outreach documents could have explained the full implications of the oath. The party could have followed the Ernie Hancock strategy of getting attention vs. getting votes. Such a strategy is commesurate with a small radical elite.

    But they wanted to have their cake and eat it too. Purity and high vote totals/large donor base do not mix.

  29. Also, Welch agrees with me.

    Actually, I don’t — my (theoretical) money has been on a big Obama win, unless there’s some kind of attack on U.S. soil and/or a new military conflagration abroad. But then, I thought we’d be talking about “presumptive GOP nominee Rudy Giuliani” by now.

  30. Shhhh, Matt. Let me hang on to my misconception.

  31. I too think McCain is going to win, with or without Barr. He’s still seen as the anti-Bush, so his appeal crosses party lines better than Obama’s or Clinton’s would.

    What I want is for the LP to swing the election, get more than the margin of victory in swing states, and make both major parties start trying to coopt our issues

    Go ahead, try and name a position that can be co-opted without costing them more votes than they gain. The tail wagging the dog can work in polities like Israel where a small party can represent interests that have little or no opposition, or at least against which the opposition is diffuse. But radical libertarians take positions that are nearly all strongly opposed by everyone else. It would be political suicide for politicians to eschew the positions with which they lost a close election, only to adopt positions that are opposed by all but a tiny minority.

  32. Why can’t Bob Barr win?

    No one is going to want another hundred years in Iraq, so McCain has no chance. The hardcore conservatives don’t support him anyway.

    With the economy headed for the toilet, who in their right mind would vote for Obama?

    We need peace, liberty, and smaller government. Bob Barr is far from perfect, but he’s the only one offering all three.

  33. McCain had little chance of winning before Barr, he has even less now. The key to Republican presidential victories for 40 years has been getting ALL of the Republican factions behind the nominee and picking up enough indepedents to win. The group that cost Ford and Bush Sr re-elections were the economic free-market-libertarian types. They stayed home in 76 and 92, and they will stay home again this time.

    I think a lot of those will have no problem voting for Barr – this group is less interested in conservative social issues like drugs and gays, and won’t have any problem voting for a familiar face who has moved in the laissez-faire direction on economics and slightly to the libertarian directon on drug policy and the Patriot Act (but not enough to scare make them nervous). There is at least 10%-30% of the GOP who fit this category. That’s worth 5%-8% of the electorate, which is about where Barr is poling right now.

    On the other side of the equation the idea of attracting liberal Democrats to the Libertarian party has not shown much promise over the years. The number of votes stolen from Obama will be minimal, his followers want the welfare state to take care of them and for the government to make their lives happy and fulfilling.

    So the key to picking up independents is to present a coherent, unified face to the indepents in the electorate – the so-called economically conservative/socially liberal crowd who doesn’t identify with either party.

    That’s where the Mary Ruwart’s of the world are crucial – if that group picks up their ball and goes home the LP will be doomed to be what it always has been – irrelevant. If the party wants to move forward and be a significant player then it will do what the 2 major parties have done for 200+ years – squabble amongst themselves, have heretic witch hunts, and angry debates, then present a unified face to the electrorate once the nominee has been decided.

    All factions have to recognize that this is the best opportunity this party has had in its existence, if it doesn’t self destruct like usual. It was not that long ago that a 3rd party candidate got almost 20% of the vote – the only thing that has changed is that that party disintegrated because it was entirely personality driven but had no fundamental ideology.

    The Republican party is on the ropes (you could have said the same thing about the Democrats after ’04), a viable 3rd party has the ability to severly damage it, split it apart and possibly even help it self-destruct. The blood is in the water.

    That would leave the country with a real choice for the first time in the last 100 years.

  34. The impact of, say, a YouTube video splicing together Barr’s waffling answer on Hannity and Colmes about drug legalization … could have been devastating.

    You should have been watching the C-Span “evesdropping,” rather than providing vaporous commentary. Ruwart told anyone who would listen that Barr opposed the legalization of heroin and crack. The Hannity video was available six weeks before the convention. And, Barr’s “federalist” position is almost an exact duplicate of Ron Paul’s.
    For a federal candidate, that’s a credible – if not principled – position, which comports with legitimate constitutional strictures.

    Barr has had a long, drawn-out “epiphany”, which isn’t complete.
    Libertarians had better get used to that slow evolution of sentiments among many millions of voters, if they’re going to make any future progress. If you have to be born libertarian to satisfy the purists, we’ll have to postpone the “revolution” by another 1,000 years.

  35. The Barr/Root/Viguerie coup won’t run a libertarian campaign. They did this to sink McCain and try to the turn the GOP to the Far Right. They don’t care how libertarians votes but they do care about conservatives who they want to attract. Barr will push his campaign far to the Right intentionally.

    Yes, Cory worked for Barr. That after he used his position unethically to try to help the smear of Ruwart — talk about Barr’s ethics! The other big promoter was Steve Gordon who manipulated Barr onto the LP National Committee by engineering a convenient resignation and then Barr appoitment. Then the Barr people on Nat Com rigged the convention so the Barr nominators all had prominent roles throughout the convention in order to help Barr.

    What did Gordon get for this? He had a little website which he “sold” to Viguerie — perhaps for 20 pieces of silver.

    The Root team and the Barr team worked together to smear Ruwart indicating they were talking early on of a coalition to take over the party and make it a conservative party not a libertarian one. Many at the convention wanted a unity ticket of Barr and Kubby but Barr made it clear he would only accept a total take over of the party. The libertarians were not welcome.

  36. that Barr opposed the legalization of heroin and crack.

    I must not be a “pure” libertarian (OK, I already knew that) because while I agree with the legalization of marijuana, I’m only thus far convinced the heroin and crack should be decriminalized, not necessarily legalized.

  37. Herding cats.

  38. Well, you have your candidate. He is a hypocrite and a loser. Being a loser, he will fit right in with the Lib party.

    What a bunch of wiennies.

  39. He’s the lesser of 3 evils.

  40. Barr will get plenty of support from GOP defectors, like myself. He won’t get much from Hillary’s “working” folk, who will stay home or vote for Mccain before voting for a black guy or a free trade guy. We end up getting McCain, and an emerging LP that may finally be able to influence policy.

  41. I know he endured a lot of suffering and all, and he deserves some measure of respect for that, but don’t you have to do something extraordinary that helps win a battle or something to be considered a “war hero”?

    God knows I have little use for McCain the politician, but I think a little research will show that his conduct as a POW was truly above and beyond the call of duty.

    As for the LP, its hopeless. Far too many libertarians suffer from arrested political development, and don’t realize that progress in a mature democracy comes in small slices over many years. Fifty years ago, even the first steps toward socialized medicine were vehemently rejected by Congress, and now its all but inevitable. Until libertarians start being willing to take what they can get when they can get it, they will get nothing.

  42. Until libertarians start being willing to take what they can get when they can get it, they will get nothing.

    If all I can get for a candidate is a political opportunist that opposes the Iraq war because it’s not working, and not because it’s dead wrong in the first place, then I’m not getting anything anyway, and might as well support Hillary.

    There’s an awful big triangle at the top of that Nolan chart, I shouldn’t feel bad about rejecting someone who just crossed into it, especially from the imperialist drug warrior side.

  43. I am shocked.

    For a party fighting for respect, the Libertarian Party sure makes some confusing choices.

    First of all, I don’t care about Bob Barr. He seems to fit in.

    But Wayne Root as VP? Are you kidding me?

    Has anybody done ANY kind of background check on this guy?

    He’s a joke!

    He has actually managed to become known as the individual with the least amount of integrity in the sports handicapping business! That’s like being the worst redneck at a tractor pull.

    Not only that, but he is a known patent troll.

    I can’t believe this guy fits your mold.

    Good luck. If you ever experience any kind of mainstream publicity, they will have a field day with this clown’s history of screwing people over.

  44. Here are some observations from someone who was a delegate at the convention. I’d call myself a purist in the long term but a pragmatist in the short term.

    After a lot of thought, I decided to support Barr-starting on the second ballot. He was clearly the best candidate from the standpoint of getting more exposure for the party. Except for Gravel, the others would be seen as irrelevant. But Gravel advocated universal, state-funded health care. His National Initiative was another black mark: the best views on democracy are those of H.L. Mencken.

    Like others, I wondered how libertarian Barr truly was. I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. He’d been in, and worked for, the party for two years. He’d worked with the ACLU and MPP. He admitted making mistakes while in Congress and wanted to undo the damage. Joining the LP clearly didn’t help his career and undoubtedly cost him friends.

    On the first ballot, I voted for Kubby. He obviously walked the talk, and his performance at the debate was excellent. He didn’t strike me as a one-issue candidate, quipping that his candidacy was no more about marijuana than the Boston Tea Party was about tea. He deserved a vote, which was also tactically convenient because I wanted to contribute to whatever Barr surge would occur on the second ballot.

    After the first ballot, I added Barr’s and Root’s numbers, got 45%, and concluded that Ruwart would win it in a squeaker, under the assumptions that Root’s support would go mostly to Barr and that the rest of the field would go mostly to Ruwart. Sure, I was switching from Kubby to Barr, but I thought most delegates would have seen this as beyond bizarre.

    Wrong, at least anecdotally. I now heard two delegates behind me talking about supporting Kubby until he was out, and then switching to Barr. I figured there had to be consternation in Barr’s camp at this point, so when I ran into Steve Dasbach, who had nominated Barr, I told him that at least three Kubby votes would be going to Barr. He still seemed distracted.

    After that, nothing was too surprising. Barr picked up about half the support from those who dropped off, and Root finally endorsed him.

    Although Barr wanted Root as VP, I backed Kubby. It would be an appropriate arranged marriage, a former anti-drug crusader paired with a medical marijuana advocate. Unfortunately it didn’t happen.

    Kubby showed class throughout. After Root won, Kubby was supposed to speak but never made it back into the hall because he was kept busy outside, talking to over 100 delegates who were ready to quit. He told them to fight on, to support the ticket, and to help Barr and Root become better libertarians. Later on, Kubby attended the presidential banquet and Barr’s reception, receiving warm applause on both occasions.

    Barr said that he wouldn’t let us down. One of his campaign placards had bullets about restoring civil liberties, limiting the size of government, cutting taxes, and ending the war in Iraq. If he campaigns on that, I won’t regret having supported him.

  45. A fine analysis by a fine reporter. Whatever anyone’s opinion of Barr or the LP, Weigel’s coverage of Denver was tough to beat — and I should know, I spent four days trying to beat him.

  46. Matt Welch said:

    But then, I thought we’d be talking about “presumptive GOP nominee Rudy Giuliani” by now.

    And they call me crazy . . .

  47. Great. Now I have to vote for the lesser of three evils. That ain’t Bob Barr. Unfortunately and as much as it hurts to vote for a welfare socialist state….either Obama or Clinton will get the nod.

  48. But Wayne Root as VP? Are you kidding me?
    ===========
    Wayne Root was obviously a Bob Barr cohort. Eighteen months ago, Root was a Republican. Nuff said.

  49. Wayne Root was obviously a Bob Barr cohort. Eighteen months ago, Root was a Republican. Nuff said.

    ah, yes. obviously a vast right wing conspiracy.

    jesus.

  50. Or as Root really likes to refer to himself, a Millionaire Republican.

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