Barrwatch: Bob on the Road

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NBC News reports from Bob Barr's campaign swing in Virginia in Ohio, where he'll be spending 10 days talking on college campuses.

In true libertarian fashion, Barr's first remark in his speech to students was that "you guys must be from the government"—in response to his microphone not working.
 
He blamed the current economic situation on the "benevolent hand of government," calling the government a "vacuum of leadership." He said, "These [economic] problems were not only foreseeable but foreseen," and stressed that the economic situation is "not a failure of economic policy but of leadership."

In the OC Register, Alan Bock writes a sort of pre-mortem of the Barr campaign, heavy on the reasons for Ron Paul's non-endorsement, but includes a little optimism.

What just might do it, in addition to Barr's name recognition, is voter anger at the $700 billion (plus $135 billion in "sweeteners" only a congressman could love), which was supported by both Barack Obama and John McCain. Since the financial crisis began to dominate headlines a few weeks ago, according to Andrew Davis, the liaison between the LP and the Barr campaign, donations, offers to volunteer and requests for media interviews have increased exponentially. Although Ralph Nader is also opposed to the bailout (and has more money and better name recognition), Davis believes that Barr is better situated to capitalize on voter anger, especially among fiscal conservatives disillusioned at the Bush administration's big-spending ways and John McCain's suspect record when it comes to conservative principles – not to mention his $300 billion idea in the most recent debate to have the government buy about-to-default mortgages directly and refinance them at taxpayer expense.

This is a familiar part of the campaign. The smart money is on one candidate holding his lead and winning the presidency. There are three horse race stories to write. Can the Democrat hold on? Can the Republican come back? Oh, and are the third parties going to ruin anyone's election night? I think the odds of Barr (or Nader, or McKinney) "spoiling" anything are nil unless Obama loses his commanding electoral vote lead, but Libertarians, independents, and Constitution Party candidates are making life hell for the Republican Senate candidates in North Carolina, Minnesota, and Oregon.

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  1. Barr voted for the Patriot Act, used his voting power to support the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and helped pilot the plane of Bill Clinton’s impeachment. He’s interested in constitutionally enshrining the inability of same-sex couples to enjoy the M word. He’s an establishment Republican who, like Lieberman, dumps his party solely because it’s expedient for him to do so. Is it any wonder that Paul won’t endorse him? Is it any wonder that disgruntled Republican voters would consider him a viable alternative to McCain?

  2. I look forward to the post wherein the Reason staff reveals who they are voting for, and why.

  3. Personally, I think Barr has repented. Besides, a vote for him is less about Barr than it is for a third party.

  4. Andrew,

    Is it possible for a main-stream politician to have a change-of-heart/mindset? What does Barr need to do in order to prove to you that he is libertarian enough?

  5. The bar for Barr is 1 million votes.

    If he crosses that line, and beats Ed Clark’s total of 922,000 from 1980, his campaign will be judged as the most successful Libertarian campaign in history.

    If he busts 2 million, it will be a huge victory for the libertarian movement, and a strong sign to Fascist-Obama that we won’t stand for bigger government.

  6. Even if Barr isn’t having any real effect on the elections, that won’t stop the GOP from scapegoating him for a McCain loss.

  7. and helped pilot the plane of Bill Clinton’s impeachment

    Bob Barr was the Wilbur and Orville Wright of Bill Clinton’s impeachment.Why is that a bad is a bad thing? Unles you are a DemocRAT Party partisan of course.

  8. Damn, must preview….
    Seriously if you are a minarchist or anarchist you should support impeaching each and every one
    for not upholding the Constitution.

  9. Yerbaff, yes, it’s possible for a mainstream politician to have a change of heart. But if we evaluate a man based on what he has done to contemplate what he will do, we can’t ignore his voting record. I reject the notion that his change of heart means he has dispensed with normative morality (marriage amendment), invasion of privacy, AND senseless projections of military power. One, maybe two, ok. But all three? If he’s capable of that kind of sweeping ideological change, I don’t want him anywhere near the White House.

  10. SIV, not sure how to respond to your posts, since they veer toward the emotional. By your reckoning I’m a — how did you put it — DemocRAT Party partisan — which is really quite silly a) because I wrote nothing to suggest this and b) you have no idea who I am.

    I mentioned Barr and the impeachment to illustrate the grotesque national EXPENSE that he helped incur by setting that ball rolling. I expect conservatives AND libertarians to examine every return on investment related to their political decisions, whether sound or utterly misguided. That’s the responsibility of a fiscally responsible elected official.

    When you point a partisan finger at me, you’re pointing three partisan fingers at, um, Bob Barr. Or something like that.

    What does anarchism have to do with rigorous Constitutional advocacy?

  11. If he’s capable of that kind of sweeping ideological change, I don’t want him anywhere near the White House.

    Whereas Andrew was a libertarian, sprung fully-formed from Ayn Rand’s head.

    The man says he’s libertarian. He talks like a libertarian. But Andrew can read minds.

  12. Eric Dondero | October 14, 2008, 7:12pm | #
    If he busts 2 million, it will be a huge victory for the libertarian movement, and a strong sign to Fascist-Obama that we won’t stand for bigger government.

    O, hai Donderoooooo!! I didn’t see you there.

    More like sending a message to ‘Fascist-McCain’ and his big government ways. Agree or do you take the “republican” part of your catchphrase closer to heart these days?

  13. Andrew Lynch | October 14, 2008, 7:45pm | #
    b) you have no idea who I am.

    Is this your card?

  14. Asharak, are you so sure the GOP scapegoating Barr and the Libertarians for their loss is such a bad thing?

    There’s a silver lining there. It will force the RNC to finally accept the libertarian challenge, and to get serious about libertarian recruitment efforts.

    Maybe we can pull the RNC away from this ridiculous move to pander to centrist moderates all the time.

  15. Again, this is all about vote totals for Barr.

    If he gains over 1 million votes, it will be a HUGE victory for the Libertarian Party. Every single poll I’ve seen in the last 2 weeks has him polling 1 to 4%.

    Folks, with 130 expected voters, that’s well over 1 million for Barr.

    A lot of people who doubted him (and Wayne Root), in the libertarian movement, and even within the Libertarian Party itself (the Ruwart/Phillies/Knapp crazies), are going to have major egg on their faces if Barr busts Ed Clark’s 1 million total.

    Tom Knapp even famously predicted he’d get only the standard “300,000 to 400,000 votes.”

    Anybody know where Ed Clark is these days? He’s gonna have to hand over that mantle of “Best Libertarian candidate ever” to Bob Barr in 2 weeks.

  16. “Bob Barr was the Wilbur and Orville Wright of Bill Clinton’s impeachment.Why is that a bad is a bad thing?”

    Maybe you can tell us, from a libertarian or any perspective, why it was a good thing. I’d love to hear this…

    As to Barr, I would not be as naively credulous as TAO, but I mean, if you are a real deal libertarian you’d be a fool not to vote for the guy. He has made a VERY honest attempt to talk to libertarians and explore their views. His conversions on certain issues strike me as VERY plausible (WTF, do you think he is doing this for money? He could make much more as a lobbyist for more as usual). He’s an intelligent guy who at times did buck his party. I like Barr, he deserves folks votes. Hell, I’m not a libertarian, but to those who are, what the f*ck are you thinking not voting for this guy? He’s the biggest figure to wave the LP flag in a while. He’s smart and accomplished, and he has really worked hard to articulate and understand libertarian views on things.

  17. MNG and I are about to have another Bona-Fide Hand-Holding moment here:

    MNG, I agree with everything you wrote. Your bewilderment is justified, however, the thing you need to understand is that there are socially adept, intelligent libertarians and then there are those who delight in being a libertarian just so they can constantly suffer and die on the cross.

  18. BTW-There is NO comparison between Baldwin and Barr. Only a cray person or one who has had a suddn epihphany would switch from one to the other.

  19. > but Libertarians, independents, and Constitution Party candidates are making life hell for the Republican Senate candidates in North Carolina, Minnesota, and Oregon.

    Technically it should be “Independents,” as Barkley is a member of the Minnesota Independence Party.

  20. Angry Optimist, I’m not a mind-reader. Besides, the post is about Barr, not me, right? I’d gleefully tout my clairvoyant skills before I’d vote for a person who “talks like a libertarian.” Are we measuring Barr on his record, or on his change-of-heart? I’ll buy that change-of-heart when I see a track record that supports it.

    Which brings me to Kwix. Nice work Kwix, you found me. Now, if you read the meat of the post to which you link, you’ll realize that I have publicly and unambiguously dumped Obama for nearly the same reasons that I publicly and unambiguously dump Barr as an alternative.

    Kwix, you should read my blog, you’ll find all kinds of additional “Andrew” certification there.

    Cheers…

  21. TAO and MNG,

    Exactly. You both have stated the under-lying reason behind my questions earlier in the thread. Barr is not perfect, but he’s a heck-of-a-lot better than the two main-stream pres. choices. And if libertarianism is going to gain any ground in the *political* arena, it’s going to have to make those gains on the back of a less-than-perfect candidate.

  22. I reject the notion that his change of heart means he has dispensed with normative morality (marriage amendment), invasion of privacy, AND senseless projections of military power. One, maybe two, ok. But all three?

    Two out of three ain’t bad.
    -Meatloaf

    😉

  23. Since 2003-2004 Barr has been repudiating his former beliefs and making a pretty convincing graduation toward libertarian ideas. Then again, he might just be a dirty politician, but at least he soars past McCain and Obama on his allegedly false beliefs.

  24. *sigh* Does anyone really care about this statist retread anymore? (outside of the Reason blog I mean) The LP had an outstanding candidate in Mary Ruwart, who could have educated a new generation energized by the RP campaign about real libertarian principles, but of course we could not be seen as ‘purists’ and ‘radicals’. Apparently being seen as GOP-lite and getting the Golden One Million Votes is much better. “Party of Principle” no more.

    Here’s my prediction: Bob Barr will not collect 1 million votes nor 1%, will not be a factor whatsoever in this election, and the LP will begin to fade into total irrelevance – where after its recent right-wing takeover, is probably where it belongs.

    The truth hurts, I know….

  25. EVERY Libertarian candidate I have ever supported or voted for had things wrong with him or her, things I would have changed, or at least soft-pedaled, were I calling the shots. Guess what: they were all human and all had their personal problems, preferences, and hobby-horses. Oh well. EVERY one was still head and shoulders better than the major party opponents, and I have no regrets for any libertarian ballot I ever cast.

    Having looked over Bob Barr for awhile, and having been both OVERJOYED when he lost his House seat and EXTREMELY skeptical when he joined the LP, I conclude that his positives as a candidate well outweigh his negatives. He does indeed seem to have had a change of heart and mind, and in that case, I view his previous anti-libertarian votes as valuable assets, because he understands how people who could have voted for such things can be persuaded to make sincere, common cause with Libertarians, if not “convert” to libertarianism entirely. That kind of understanding is central to effective outreach and recruitment.

    I’m going to read his recently published book of “Lessons” and try to fathom the lessons he has learned and the lessons he wishes to teach. If, as I suspect from paying attention to his campaign, the overall theme is genuinely libertarian, I’m going to vote for Bob Barr on election day, with no apologies and no regrets. At very least, we must send the message that we reject the status quo, and if we get lucky and can send the messenger, too, I am confident that a Bob Barr administration won’t be any worse than any we’ve seen in the past 20 years, and will probably be a damn sight better and more libertarian than any we’ve seen in the past 100.

  26. I’ll buy that change-of-heart when I see a track record that supports it.

    Oooook…like what? Like saying “I’m a libertarian”? By campaigning like one?

  27. not to be crude, but if a chick tells me “I’m a lesbian”, I don’t need to see her eat pussy to prove it to me.

  28. That’s true, TAO. But if that lesbian had been starring in hard-core hetero porno for the last couple decades I might need a little more convincing. I think what would make some people comfortable is a voting record, but again, I think Barr is pretty genuine, regardless of his Congressional past.

  29. At this point, with McCain trying to out-socialist the Democrats, a McCain victory would be about the worst possible thing for libertarians. Not that Obama’s victory is cause for joy either. Especially if he wins by too large a margin (say hello to Mandate for Socialism 2009!)

    I think the best outcome would be for Obama to score a narrow victory (50.1%) with the libertarians taking a large chunk of votes away from McCain, causing an electoral landslide.

    That way they can’t be blamed for causing Republicans to lose, but the impact on the Republican party of a shocking defeat would mostly likely greatly lessen the influence of religious conservatives and force a resurgance of the Ron Paul wing – as group of people who were anti-war and onto the fiscal crisis way before Bush or McCain.

    The Paulistas can effectively be put in a position where they can shout from the rooftops that Republicans lost becauset hey didn’t listen to the libertarians in their ranks enough.

  30. Bob Barr!
    Bob Barr Fever! Catch it!
    Bob Barr!
    Bob Barr Fever! Catch it!
    Bob Barr!
    Bob Barr Fever! Catch it!
    Bob Barr!
    Bob Barr Fever! Catch it!
    Bob Barr!
    Bob Barr Fever! Catch it!
    Bob Barr!
    zzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

  31. Yes, but Hazel, wouldn’t BHO basically be able to do anything he wanted? After all, the Dems would control Congress and the MSM would continue lying for him just as they’ve been doing. And, him winning would validate all those lies from the MSM. And, since his only opposition would come from a small number of House members, and since his buddies from Chicago and the far-left would still be there, he’d basically turn the U.S. into Chicago.

    Now, Hazel, are you sure you thought all this through?

    Any way, for anyone who puts the interests of the U.S. ahead of other interests, here’s How to Defeat Barack Obama.

  32. Go jack off to your Michelle Malkin printouts, Lonewacko.

  33. What I’m worried about, OLS, is that if McCain wins on a quasi-socialist platform (buying out all the mortgages, etc.) that will effectively validate a Republican abandonment of free-market principles. It would take a generation or two for libertarian policies to find their way back into the mainstream. Through hard experience.

    On the other hand, suppose Obama wins. He’ll have an economic mess to deal with, which he may possibly screw up worse. But either way, the Dems will be responsible and it will be on their heads when the economy doesn’t recoever. Which won’t be entirely their fault, to be fair, but it will limit their political capital anyway. Obama will be needing reelection as well, so he can’t afford to be too radical.

    Plus, the Republicans may well regain the House after two years, if they can get their own house in order.

    Obama, inexperienced as he is, is likely to make a lest a few major flubs in his first year in office that will undercut his support and prevent the Democrats and him from accomplishing too much.

    If he does take the US too far left, that WILL be a flub, and there will be a backlash. Which will be all the better for a libertarian resurgence.

  34. Dear Voter, did you oppose the bailout?

    Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama supported the bailout.

    Don’t you wish someone was running who knows how things work in DC and can get things done there, but who, like you, opposed the bailout and would stand firm on that point?

    Well, someone is: Libertarian Bob Barr, a former multi-term Congressman. Look on your ballot. Chances are, Bob’s name will be there, along with the two gentlemen who disagree with you about the bailout.

    You already agree with Bob Barr on one of the biggest political issues of our lives. Maybe you agree with him on other things, too. Find out at http://www.Barr2008.com

  35. I had been planing on holding my nose and voting for McCain, but his mortgage buyout was the final straw and he is completely incoherent on domestic policy. I’m a “Republican for Barr.”

  36. I should also add that if Ron Paul has any sense, he will endorse Bob Barr. He’s certainly not doing his supporters any favors by encouraging them to vote for McCain or Obama.

    The Ron Paul Republicans have more to gain from a strong LP showing if McCain loses than from a McCain victory.

  37. Asharak, are you so sure the GOP scapegoating Barr and the Libertarians for their loss is such a bad thing?

    There’s a silver lining there. It will force the RNC to finally accept the libertarian challenge, and to get serious about libertarian recruitment efforts.

    I don’t think it’s a bad thing, but I’m certain that’s the first thing they’ll bring up if McCain loses.

    I agree that it’s a silver lining, but it seems third parties only gain any influence when they get 20% of the vote like Perot did. He got blamed for Bush losing, but it did force both parties to take a look at balancing the government budget.

  38. My thinking is that votes cast for any and all of the third parties on the right will be beneficial in the long term if McCain loses. Especially if he loses badly in the Electoral College. This includes Barr, Baldwin, Jay, Keyes, Philles and Ron Paul (both write-ins and LA/MT). Differences between all of these notwithstanding, the GOP will be forced to re-examine their strategy in 2010 and 2012. Combined with the Paulian takeover of many county and state GOP committees this year, we could be looking at a tremendous change.

    I’m not fond of Barr myself, but I do want to see him take votes away from McCain. I’m with Baldwin this time around, and I’m an agnostic.
    We have alliances to build if we actually want to win something some day.

  39. Vote for Bob Barr and hold your nose. The election is decided already, so get the numbers up for the LP. Lots of people in this election will be holding their nose as they vote for their ideology, it’s high time libertarians stopped being puritan ideologues and learned to do the same.

  40. How can Dondero (or anyone) know what Mary Ruwart would have gotten instead of the news media’s annointed LP candidate (those multiple ballots it took to buy it were sure inconvenient for lazy “journalists” & mindless neocon media critics!)

  41. The thing is that for at least 75% of the population a vote for either Obama or McCain is a wasted vote. In most states one or the other is going to win handily and a vote for either one of them in these states just says that you are happy with where they are taking us, ie socialism/facism. The only vote that might make a difference is a vote for a third party candidate and of those third parties the only one that really is for smaller gov’t in all cases is the LP. But the only way the LP can gain anything is if they start pulling in more votes. How better to show your frustration with both of the other parties than voting for a third party that might make a difference in the future. Not only will you be sending a message to the republicrats but you will be helping third parties to gain some traction and possibly make a difference in future elections.

    In those few states that may be very close you could possibly make a case that your vote for the lesser of two evils might make a difference, but it is beginning to be hard to see just who is the lesser of two evils.

  42. This could be turning out to be just like the Hoover/Roosevelt election. Hoover was making all the wrong moves and increasing the size of gov’t substantially. Roosevelt ran on a platform of decreasing gov’t significantly and that Hoover was wrong in increasing gov’t. Well we all know how that turned out as once Roosevelt became President he made even Hoover look like a small gov’t candidate. I am afraid that either Obama or even McCain will turn into Roosevelt when they are elected. Our only hope maybe if the republicans can keep at least 42-45 seats in the Senate. Maybe they will finally get some balls and start remembering what got them elected in the first place, i.e small gov’t conservatism, even if that means going against a socialist republican President, if McCain gets elected.

  43. I’m a “Republican for Barr.”

    So you’re a socialist for a libertarian?

  44. At this point, I think a vote for McCain is a wasted vote. He’s going to lose, and voting for him is just a vote for the status quo in the GOP. I don’t want the Republican Party to turn into the Democratic Party the way it has these last 8 years. In 1995, the GOP wanted to get rid of the Department of Education — in 2001, the GOP orchestrated a huge federal power grab with all the nation’s schools. This is the only administration in my life to take a budget in surplus and turn it into a budget in deficit.

    I want GOP bigshots to recognize that they cannot win as a party of big-spending big government. That’s how they’ve governed these last 8 years, and it’s shipwrecked the GOP. I want them to learn that they can’t win without those of us who believe the federal government needs to get smaller, and spending needs to be cut. If McCain loses big, and Barr gets two million votes, maybe somebody in the GOP will finally listen to those of us that they’ve been ignoring these last 8 years.

    The Republican Party needs to return to what it once was, and what it should be. What it is now is just the Democratic Party with an elephant logo.

    I’m voting for Bob Barr not because I expect he’ll win, but because it’s the only way I see to bring about change in the GOP. The party of Reagan has lost its way, and unless they lose big the people directing it will never change course.

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