"Ah See Freedom in the Ahhs of Wild Creatures!"


The witty Michael Idov covered the Libertarian Party convention for The New Republic; I talked to him a bit there, a little bit jealous that he could collect notes and observations without the worry of filing every day. He needed only to file this monster-sized piece, rather innacurately subtitled "the tragicomic demise of the Libertarian Party." He provides some context by quoting reason Senior Editor Brian Doherty.

As Brian Doherty writes in his definitive 741-page tome, Radicals for Capitalism, being a libertarian means "sailing on seas of opposition and indifference with an often bizarre and difficult bunch of shipmates." The movement's embrace of personal freedom is wide enough to welcome a Wall Street wing concerned mostly with deregulation; a sci-fi contingent dreaming of space colonies and immortality; a sizable anarchist (or "minarchist") faction preaching dissolution of almost all federal agencies; and, in the last few years, a steady, surly influx of 9/11 "truthers."

But there's a little proof of why Denver wasn't a "demise." The "truthers" didn't win. I remember running around the convention hall after the fourth round of balloting when supporters of the final three candidates from one state caucused to make their case for their choice. A Mary Ruwart supporter explained that only her candidate would "look into the truth of 9/11." This was sold, by the way, as something that could popularize the party.

Never mind! Idov does a heckuva job capturing the drama of events like the Friday night "alternative debate."

A few doomed dabblers march across the stage, serving up a glimpse into the party's various now-endangered constituencies. Christine Smith, a New Age-y redhead with a musical twang, says things like "Ah see freedom in the ahhs of wild creatures." Alden Link is an older gentleman who talks exactly like Truman Capote, except about the Second Amendment.

And then something electrifying happens. A man from Las Vegas named Wayne Allyn Root saunters to the podium. A ruddy bookmaker and TV sports handicapper who once co-hosted a show with Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder, Root looks like a cross between "SNL"'s Darrell Hammond-as-Bill Clinton and Biff from Back To the Future. He's been itching to diversify from odds-making and TV appearances, and recently wrote the book Millionaire Republican, about "creating personal wealth in the GOP-dominated era." (It came out in 2006.) Soon after, he had his own "Libertarian awakening," as he calls it. Root's brochure baldly paints his candidacy as a pure p.r. project. His detailed "sixteen-year plan" for the party has such milestones as "Wayne hits a local college nightspot and dances with the younger set. The video makes U Tube" and "Wayne becomes a frequent guest on 'This Week with George Stephanopoulos,' Wayne's Columbia University classmate." (Stephanopoulos on Root: "I definitely didn't know him.") His other Columbia classmate? "Barrack [sic] Obama." P.r. gold.

Is this what it looked like on C-SPAN?