Drafting Bob Barr?

When I hang out with Robert Stacy McCain, something interesting always happens. After spending a good deal of time with him last week at CPAC, he picked up on a buzz there with which I played a role. Today, McCain is reporting that there is a movement, at this moment unorganized, to get former Congressman Bob Barr to run for president.

Bob Barr, who helped lead the 1998 impeachment of President Clinton, is the object of an alliance of conservative and libertarians seeking to recruit the former Georgia Republican congressman as a third-party presidential candidate.

Now an Atlanta-based activist with the Libertarian Party, Barr has repeatedly disavowed any intention of seeking the LP’s 2008 presidential nomination. He reiterated that stance Monday during an appearance on Neal Boortz’s Atlanta-based syndicated talk radio program.

While I missed the Boortz program in question, my understanding is that Barr asked Boortz if he’d be willing to write a big check when asked if he’d consider running for president.

“Right now, he’s concentrating on establishing the Libertarian Party as a viable third party,” said Derek Barr, the former congressman’s son, who now serves as his father’s communication and research director.

However, efforts to push a Barr candidacy were given new impetus last week when Rep. Ron Paul sent a letter to his supporters announcing plans to scale back his Republican presidential campaign and concentrate on his congressional re-election fight in Texas.

Several organizers behind the draft-Barr movement were supporters of the Paul presidential campaign. Last week, Barr introduced Paul at of the 35th annual Conservative Political Action Conference, calling the Texas congressman “the Constitution’s best friend” and “the gold standard of conservatism” in the GOP presidential campaign.

Barr’s backers have also solicited support among conservative Republicans who were disappointed by last week’s announcement—made on the opening day of CPAC —that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was suspending his Republican presidential campaign.

Former Romney backers were “very excited” by proposals to recruit Barr for a White House run on the Libertarian ticket, a source said.

Barr gave a fiery introductory speech for Paul at CPAC, which may have refueled some of the enthusiasm for a draft movement. Here’s the YouTube of the intro.

I first heard the talk about Barr at a party co-hosted by McCain shortly after Mitt Romney suspended his campaign last Thursday. A lot of the Romney supporters I spoke with that night were strongly considering voting for Ron Paul—or a third party candidate. Several asked me if the Libertarian Party might be running someone other than those who had officially announced so far. Barr’s name came up a few times in conversation.

After Ron Paul sent out an e-mail announcing that he was scaling back campaign operations, the third party questions from Romney supporters and libertarians increased. Later that evening, Bob Barr and a group of other people met in the hotel lobby before heading to Shelly’s Back Room for a while. This is when and where the picture was taken of Phil Kent (McCain took the picture) . Several libertarians and fiscal conservatives who I knew from previous political activities or Stacy McCain’s party the previous night saw me standing with Barr as we organized our group enough to hop into taxis and head down the road.

About the time we arrived at our destination, my phone started ringing. The speculation was about whether Barr might run or if we were meeting to try to persuade him to run. Before the night was over, calls were coming and going from around the country. Some were initiated by me and some by others as the story started leaking beyond the Beltway. McCain almost certainly overheard some of those telephone conversations.

To be clear, the topic of a presidential run was only raised in a very general manner while we were at Shelly’s and no one (of which I’m aware) directly popped Barr the question. He spent more of his time discussing the qualities of fine cigars or listening to me rant about McCain-Feingold. I recall that I did make a lame Monica Lewinsky joke as our cigars arrived.

One supporter said Barr could become the “heir apparent” to Paul, whose campaign raised more than $30 million. In a Friday message to supporters, Paul—who was the 1988 LP candidate—definitively ruled out a third-party White House run this year.

Another pro-Barr activist who is familiar with details of the record-setting online fundraising operation for Paul’s campaign said the Texan’s donors are primed to shift their contributions to a Libertarian candidate “who’s got a real chance” to win in November.

“They’re ready to go,” said the Internet activist, who said he’d been trying to persuade Barr to seek the LP nomination since last fall. “It’s very logical—that’s what’s next.”

The online Barr backer, a longtime Libertarian, said he was at first skeptical when the Georgia Republican switched to the LP in 2006.

“I’ve been very, very impressed,” he said of Barr, a former federal prosecutor. “He’s completely turned around” on key Libertarian issues, including decriminalization of marijuana. However, Barr’s supporters would expect him to advocate a conservative stance on immigration—a position shared by Paul.

While there were quite a few Ron Paul supporters (myself included) at Shelley’s that night, I’m not sure who the “Internet activist” or Barr backers are, but I do know that McCain called me several times to thoroughly source this article. I’m guessing this is a partially different group of people from those at the bar Friday night. I suspect that the “longtime Libertarian” is one of the people with whom I spoke on the telephone, though.

Another Barr supporter noted that the former House Judiciary Committee member’s role in the 1998 Clinton impeachment would make for an interesting media angle, should former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton win the Democratic Party nomination.

“It’s a sequel—a rematch,” the supporter said.

It is quote possible that I was being quoted here—I’ve made several similar statements in McCain’s presence.

For the record, I have no real clue about how seriously Barr is taking all of this, although I have spoken with one of his staffers today. I do know that my phone started ringing off the hook when the prospect of a Barr run became a minor buzz at CPAC. The calls died off yesterday as I was telling people I didn’t think there was much of a chance of Barr running. However, they picked back up this morning, mostly from people who weren’t at CPAC. I’m sure McCain’s article will encourage more of such contact.

There is clearly a small but growing movement which seems to have started spontaneously. The three legs of the movement seem to be Ron Paul supporters (one of whom suggested a theme of “Paul in September, Barr in November”), small-government Republicans and libertarians/Libertarians.

My only advice to the former congressman, while he ponders these latest developments, is to consider that a lot of very serious players are showing interest in even the possibility of a Bob Barr presidential bid.

Personally, I’d be happy to support the campaign of someone who tells off current Bush apologist Dana Rohrabacher on CNN about issues like electronic eavesdropping, foreign policy and the presidential oath of office. We could certainly use a president who would honor that oath as well as one who will tell Congress, in no uncertain terms, to take your unconstitutional policy and shove it.

Photo credits:

Top: Bob Barr shortly after introducing Ron Paul, taken by Stephen Gordon.

Middle: Photo by Robert Stacy McCain, described in this manner: “Prior to Friday night’s departure for important conference activities, Atlanta-based media legend Phil Kent learns from libertarian activist Stephen Gordon that Ron Paul” had just downsized his campaign operations.

Bottom: At Shelley’s, taken by Robert Stacy McCain (or at least with his BarbieCam).

All of these photographs were “lifted” from Facebook.

175 Responses to “Drafting Bob Barr?”

  1. Jason Gatties Says:

    I’d like to see it but I doubt he would consider this. I don’t think he’s blind to the fact that he isn’t very popular with many members of the LP, especially the “radicals”

  2. Red Phillips Says:

    Is Bob Barr pro-life? I believe he is.

  3. Jason Gatties Says:

    I’m pro life as well…personally, but what someone else does is their own business.

  4. Dodsworth Says:

    Has Barr come out in no uncertain terms for a non-inteventionist foreign policy? Has he completely abandoned the drug war. If so, in both cases he could accused of being a flip-flopper….but this might be a relatively minor objection. If he has truly changed his positions, however, he would be far superior to any of the other announced candidates….though Gary Johnson (who has a long record of consistency) would be ideal.

  5. Ghoststrider Says:

    Seems a bit hyped up, but, I’d support a Barr presidency.

  6. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Has Barr come out in no uncertain terms for a non-inteventionist foreign policy?

    I can’t speak to that, but he opposed to Iraq on constitutional grounds on the CNN transcript above. My recollection is that he opposed most military intervention in the past—but it is also worthy to note that Barr has become considerably more libertarian over the last few years.

    About the WOD, he’s working with MPP and took the WSPQ the other day where he indicated he would “Repeal laws prohibiting adult possession and use of drugs.”

  7. Margot Says:

    I consider myself a Radical, and I’d vote for him. His positions are the same as Ron Paul’s (and I’m pro-life) but I can deal with the federalist postion he would probably have as long as he continues to fight for cutting spending and saving our civil liberties. And of course, Iraq.

  8. LibertyMinded Says:

    Looks like the best next phase (if Gary Johnson won’t run) for the Ron Paul Revolution of all of the options provided.

    Does anybody know how Bob Barr is on the CFR, Nafta, and the trans-Texas corridor?

  9. MensaMenses Says:

    Barr is definately a lot better than any of the other LP candidates. Maybe better than Ron Paul. At least he doesn’t have NewsLetterGate behind him. But Paul doesn’t have Larry Flynt after him, either.

  10. MensaMenses Says:

    Jason Gatties,

    Who are these radicals you talk about? Anarchists?

  11. mketcher Says:

    I still wouldn’t count out Ron Paul seeking the LP nomination. I think it depends how he does in Texas, both in the presidential primary and in his own congressional district primary on March 4. The LP convention is a month after that. If he loses the primary, and loses his congressional primary, then he would have less reason to go to the Republican convention—and may consider running for the LP. A Paul-Barr ticket would be pretty strong, as a Third Party—especially if the other choices are Hillary and McCain.

  12. Wes Benedict Says:

    I’d support Barr and I’m very confident he’d win the LP nomination if he sought it soon enough. If he waits too long, however, many of the LP activists will be committed to other candidates and he could fizzle like Fred Thompson.

  13. johncjackson Says:

    Hell, I’d support him. And I was mostly a reluctant supporter of Paul.

  14. RobertOFromGA Says:

    I’ve never voted Libertarian in my life, but I would pull the lever, donate $2,300 twice (if I can-how does this work for Libertarians?) and camp on the campaign doorsteps just to help my old congressman out. How does he get on the ballot?

  15. Lex Says:

    A Bob Barr LP bid would be quite ironic as well, for those who remember the LP’s targeted effort to boot him out of Congress as one of the worst of the drug war leaders! If I recall correctly, the LP even publicly claimed his defeat a sign of their strength on their national website.

    It seems like he is turning in the right direction on that issue, and he would undoubtedly be a much better president than the remaining D’s and R’s (excluding Ron Paul) but how quickly people forget.

  16. Brandon H. Says:

    Well even if we end up with McCain, Obama, or Clinton this year, we need to use what Ron Paul has built up into 2012. However, Paul will be 76 by then, so most likely we will need someone else to carry the torch. Barr could be that person.

  17. Wes Benedict Says:

    Oh my. What’s Susan Hogarth going to say?

    Susan, if the choice were between Wayne Allyn Root and Bob Barr, who would you pick?

  18. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Wes,

    I’m curious about WWSD (What Would Susan Do?) too.

  19. Stephen Gordon Says:

    A Bob Barr LP bid would be quite ironic as well, for those who remember the LP’s targeted effort to boot him out of Congress as one of the worst of the drug war leaders!

    Lots of irony. Barr v. Hillary would be amusing. Also, Barr and Cynthia McKinney have led impeachment movements.

  20. Fred C. Says:

    “I still wouldn’t count out Ron Paul seeking the LP nomination. I think it depends how he does in Texas, both in the presidential primary and in his own congressional district primary on March 4.”

    I’m with you there. And while a small minority of RP supporters (the active ones, that is) might be ticked that he’d be going back on what he said, i think the majority would be overjoyed at the change of course.

    “A Paul-Barr ticket would be pretty strong, as a Third Party—especially if the other choices are Hillary and McCain.”

    That’s true too, though I think Obama would deflate the balloon sizeably since antiwar dems seem pretty comfortable with him. They’d still take a big chunk out of McCain’s ass though.

    Even if Paul’s absolutely 100% out, Barr should still try to consult/coordinate with him if he does decide to make a go of it. With his congressional record, I think many RP supporters will be wary of getting behind him without a Paul Seal of Approval.

  21. Stephen Gordon Says:

    donate $2,300 twice (if I can-how does this work for Libertarians?)

    Just substitute conventions for primaries. It’s $2300 pre-nomination and $2300 post-nomination. And if you have that much money, I’m sure plenty of people at LPHQ would like to tell you about coordinated campaign expenditures with much higher limits. :)

    Welcome aboard.

  22. Wes Benedict Says:

    WWSD—good one Stephen.

    We’ll have to wait and see. In the short term, I bet she’ll refuse to choose a preference between what she will call “the lesser of two evils.”

    Anyway, I’m just speaking for her because she’s not here to defend herself and I want to get in a few jabs before I have to run and hide and pretend I’m not reading the comments ;-)

  23. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Even if Paul’s absolutely 100% out, Barr should still try to consult/coordinate with him if he does decide to make a go of it. With his congressional record, I think many RP supporters will be wary of getting behind him without a Paul Seal of Approval.

    Important point. Because I speak with him frequently, it’s easy for me to forget how many reasonable people might not realize just how freedom oriented Bob Barr is these days.

  24. Eric Dondero Says:

    For once Wes Benedict is right. He needs to announce soon, or like Fred Thompson, his supporters will already be committed to the current announced candidates.

    Seems that Wayne Root is picking up steam, gaining media, gaining Libertarian primary wins. This LP race may solidify within the coming weeks.

    I’d be all for Barr. But I fear the mainline LP convention goers are too radical and basically too stupid to nominate him.

    Evidence of their stupidity?

    Michael Badnarik.

  25. Eric Dondero Says:

    Anybody else notice the potential irony in the Presidential race if Bob Barr is the Libertarian Party nominee of him running against fellow Georgian, Green Party nominee Cynthia McKinney?

    That would be a hoot!

    Just let Barack Hussein Obama and boring Squish McCain try to keep that duo out of the Fall debates.

  26. Red Phillips Says:

    “I’m pro life as well…personally, but what someone else does is their own business.”

    Nice pro-choice boilerplate Jason, but it also happens to be the business of the baby that is getting slaughtered.

    If Barr is pro-life, anti-amnesty/pro-border security, and anti-intervention then he could grab some of the conservative/libertarian coalition that Ron Paul was managing to hold together.

  27. Brian Says:

    Actually with McKinney running on the Green ticket and Barr on the LP the media might give them publicity just to keep people interested in the election.

    Let’s face it McCain and Obama/Clinton aren’t going to be too interesting.
    Now add another former congressman…Bob Smith on the Constitution line and we can have some fun.

  28. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Red,

    Actually, half of the Ron Paul supporters I know in Alabama are pro-choice. Most of my DC Ron Paul friends are pro-choice. That’s the beauty of the federalism angle in his platform. I’m sure, based on conversations on other topics, that Barr would take the same position.

    Not so sure exactly how he would go on immigration, but I expect I would hear the phrase “rule of law” in his arguments.

  29. Gene Berkman Says:

    Many Libertarians would support Ron Paul because he has a long history of involvement with the Libertarian Party and other libertarian institutions.

    I welcome Bob Barr into the Libertarian Party, but maybe he should run for Congress or Senate in Georgia, so we can see how he represents the LP in a campaign before we fantasize about a Presidential campaign.

    Face it, we will have a pro-government politico as President, whether it’s McCain or Obama or Hillary. We need pro-freedom Congressmen to counter President Statist and the Dana Rohrabacher’s of Congress.

    Of course, if Gary Johnson wants to run for President on the LP ticket – this year or in 2012, I would back him.

  30. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Gene,

    I’d back Johnson in a heartbeat. However, Johnson has expressed no interest and Barr is positioned well enough to consider a run. From an LP perspective, he’s as libertarian as Badnarik, Russo, or Paul. His speaking ability is better.

  31. Nelson Says:

    Run, Bob, run!

    RUN, BOB, RUN!

  32. Red Phillips Says:

    Stephen, I suspect that most of the Ron Paul supporters you know are l/Libertarians. For hard core conservatives, esp. conservative Christians, being pro-choice is a non-starter. Once you know that, you don’t need to know anything else. They have been eliminated from consideration.

  33. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Red,

    In DC, they are mostly libertarians. In Alabama, it’s a pretty wide open mix. Most of the conservative Christians are strongly pro-life, but don’t belong to organized “box” religions. I do agree with your general assessment about this demographic group, though.

  34. Tam Says:

    And some of us Ron Paul supporters have abortion as a low priority… and really like the federalist approach.

    a run by Bob barr would be interesting…

  35. taxactivist Says:

    I couldn’t support Ron Paul because of previous horrible selections of staffers. Eric Dondero, have you ever worked for Bob Barr?

  36. Tom Bryant Says:

    I’ve got $1000 for Bob Barr should he run for the nomination.

    I’m not planning on going to the National Convention, but my wife and I would attend to give him two delegates there as well.

    Any savvy web guy want to create a nice site encouraging Bob Barr to run, with the ability to “pledge” money and National Convention delegates if he does entertain the idea?

  37. Bede Says:

    Barr had a good immigration reduction record while in Congress

    http://grades.betterimmigration.com/testgrades.php3?District=GA07&VIPID=219&retired=1

    .

  38. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Wes,

    You write:

    “Susan, if the choice were between Wayne Allyn Root and Bob Barr, who would you pick?”

    I’m not Susan, but I’ll answer the question anyway: Cynthia McKinney.

  39. Nigel Watt Says:

    I would be all over a Barr run.

    Still voting for Paul in the Texas primary.

  40. Jeff Wartman Says:

    Tom: “I’m not Susan, but I’ll answer the question anyway: Cynthia McKinney.”

    I really hope that is a joke.

  41. Wes Benedict Says:

    Here’s another question. If the choice were between Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root, what would Brian (oops—just forgot his last name—the cranky reform the platform humany guy) do?

    In any case, I’d support Root or Kubby if Barr won’t run, and definitely would support a Ron Paul nomination if he were interested, but the rest of those LP characters don’t have a chance. Barr, Root or Kubby would easily demolish Phillies and the rest of them.

  42. Robert Milnes Says:

    “...donors are primed to shift their contributions to a libertarian candidate ” who’s got a real chance” to win in November.” WHAT! Where did this come from? Ron Paul candidacy panderers? Oh, Ron Paul has a chance to win. Vote Ron Paul. & the more you contribute, the better his chances. Anybody who knows ANYTHING political knew from the get-go Ron Paul had virtually ZERO chance of winning the election. In fact he had virtually ZERO chance of winning EVEN ONE primary. The Libertarian Vote see Cato Institute study is in effect a niche vote with a 20% ceiling. If he saw it through to the convention he might could emulate Keyes & get some delegates & even speak or be a player at the convention. No libertarian can win. THAT’S IT. Now, if this criterion is so important to these donors, THE ONLY POSSIBILITY OF A REAL CHANCE TO WIN in November is via the Progressive Alliance Strategy. & it also gets some Congresspersons elected on the coattails. Otherwise all the Paul/Barr, McKinney/Paul, McKinney/Nader talk is the SAME OLD POLITICS AS USUAL. Tell these people/donors the truth, Steve. Further, “However, Barr’s supporters would expect him to advocate a conservative stance on immigration-a position shared by Paul.” Also by me & George Phillies. However my position I arrived at by logical conclusion of advocacy of amends to Native Americans. Curtailing immigration & even reversing it in order to arrive at a future of population parity with them. This is a good example of compromise/negotiation with leftist(Green) & rightist (libertarian) ideology. The abortion issue is another one that Ron Paul/small government republicans make compromise/negotiation>alliance somewhat difficult. Progressivism is basically the compromise that makes election victory possible. Get with the program!

  43. Robert Milnes Says:

    & I’ve taken a lot of grief from Tom K. about my immigration position.

  44. Robert Milnes Says:

    Jeff Wartman, knowing Tom as I do, I’d say that’s probably NOT a joke & I tend to agree with him.

  45. Tom the Trotskyist Says:

    Yes, I am very happy that Bob Barr would lose the election even if we did run, and we will have a president who believes in state power and crushing the constitution and crushing economic freedom. The true socialist revolution will come, and it will see the conglomeration of the two parties. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will divide the Democrats, while McCain and Huckabee will divide the Republicans. Hillary will take McCain as her running mate and Obama will take Huckabee as his running mate. The third parties will get a few thousand votes, but most of them will realize the greatness of Obama and Huckabee, and they will submit.
    So, please pray for Barack Obama and please pray for Mike Huckabee, the Christian version of Leon Trotsky.

  46. Robert Milnes Says:

    & Shane Cory, will you please put my name back on the Liberty Decides website?

  47. Robert Milnes Says:

    I know you are busy what with trying to straighten out all this Ron Paul nonsense.

  48. Itch Says:

    Bob Barr, cigar smoker, having his picture taken with chicks. That’s manly. I respect that.

  49. Robert Milnes Says:

    Itch, I don’t know…it looks like the brunette in the background is about to stick her cigar in his ear.

  50. Robert Milnes Says:

    I bet she’s at least thinking about it.

  51. ThirdPartyNews.net (Ryan Brennan Says:

    Bob Barr seems like he’d be one of the best bets for a Libertarian presidential candidate.

    I’m still hoping Ron Paul has a change of mind and runs for the LP nomination after he secures his seat in congress in the primary.

    In Freedom & Liberty
    Ryan Brennan
    http://www.thirdpartynews.net

  52. ThirdPartyNews.net (Ryan Brennan Says:

    A Paul/Barr ticket, that’d be incredible!

  53. Eric Dondero Says:

    I linked to this story over at www.mainstreamlibertarian.com

    BTW, there’s another HUGE story breaking of great interest to libertarian Republicans. AZ Cong. John Shadegg is “retiring” but speculation is that the libertarian Republican is in line for the McCain Senate seat. Also, Shadegg’s replacement is a hardcore libertarian Republican!!

    Full story at MainstreamLibertarian.com

  54. Eric Dondero Says:

    No, Ron Paul on the ticket would turn off too many mainline Republicans.

    Barr should run with someone like Wayen Root, Ed Thompson or Don Gorman. He’d gain much more credibility.

  55. Eric Dondero Says:

    Hey “Taxactivst” is that you Paul Frankel?

  56. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Barr would be very interesting, as would Johnson. All due respect to the announced field, either would be a quantum increase in credibility. A draft movement for either allays the “Fred Thompson factor,” in my judgment.

    I would like to see either be anti-Iraq, even in retrospect. I’d hope the LP has matured to the point that a decriminalize drug possession position comes far enough, if Barr will do so.

    Johnson/Barr or Barr/Johnson would be awesome! That’s hard to dismiss.

  57. Gene Trosper Says:

    Out of the current lot of LP contenders, I like Steve Kubby, but if Bob Barr jumped in, he’d have my support. Where do I sign up?

  58. Susan Hogarth Says:

    I found Gordon’s description of Barr’s introduction of Ron Paul as “fiery” interesting. I actually found that it sounded relaxed – but then I was watching on the small screen, not there in the room. It was certainly the most coherent and focused bit of speaking I’ve ever heard Barr deliver.

    Barr’s main point in the intro seemed to be that Ron Paul (and, by extension, Bob Barr) was a ‘real conservative’. Given the audience (CPAC attendees), I can see the appeal of the message, but we are left with two alternatives: (1) Barr and Paul were pandering, or (2) Barr and Paul want to be known as ‘conservatives’, and are happy to be described thusly. As Paul is apparently sticking with the Republican Party, that makes sense for him. As Barr runs a conservative PAC that funds Republican candidates, that makes sense for him as well. Whether it makes sense for someone who represents the Libertarian Party is something that Libertarians will have to decide.

    I personally find it very much a concern that many in the LP are trying to saddle the LP with the ‘conservative’ label. I think ‘conservative’ applies to libertarians about as much as ‘progressive’ does – and I feel that the consistent use of either of these terms in the present political atmosphere creates a misleading impression of libertarianism and libertarian goals.

    Libertarianism isn’t ‘true conservativism’ any more than it is ‘true progressivism’ – although we ally with both conservatives and progressives on particular issues. Libertarianism isn’t constitutionalism – though nearly every libertarian will readily agree that the government would be more tolerable were it confined to the constitution that was designed to contain it. Libertarianism is the belief that individual people should be allowed to make their own individual decisions about their own life and property.

    I am confident that the Libertarians who come to Denver will – after carefully considering the alternatives – choose the candidate that best represents the libertarian message of peace, freedom, and individual responsibility. I believe I have identified that ‘best representative’ – Steve Kubby – and will be working in the next few months to help convince my fellow delegates that he is the best choice for the LP.

  59. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Thinking a bit more on this: while I’m more of a “left libertarian,” whatever THAT is, Barr/Johnson is in some ways far more formidable than even Ross Perot was. While I bristle a bit at the idea of the LP being a reconstituted GOP, the fact is Libertarians tend to draw former Rs and are at least rhetorically in tune with aspects of Republicanism. I’d REALLY love it if we attracted more former Ds, but it is what it is.

    McCain—I believe—will be a weak candidate, perhaps as weak as Bob Dole. Barr or Johnson could break 10% in this environment.

    The Great One—Murray Rothbard—might spin his grave, but real politics involves at least some “opportunism.” (Note, of course, that Rothbard supported Pat Buchanan, so I can sleep at night with my particular heresy.)

    In some ways, I prefer Barr to Paul, even though on issues I’d probably be more in line with Paul. Barr is substantially more articulate, and doesn’t have a history of newsletter publishing ;-) , at least none that I know of.

    It’d be great if we had a farm team of home grown Ls who could make plausible Presidents. We don’t, I believe it’s fair to say.

    Very outside chance that this could be an 1860-type moment. Ponder THAT!

  60. Robert Capozzi Says:

    If the basis for selection of a candidate is who is “most Libertarian,” then I believe the choice is obvious:

    DRAFT HOGARTH 08!

  61. Dodsworth Says:

    Dondi:

    If Barr ran with Root, Root would have to change his views on Iraq. Again, a third party pro-war candidate will be strongly opposed by large segments of the libertarian movement. Root is a non-starter.

  62. Stephen Gordon Says:

    I found Gordon’s description of Barr’s introduction of Ron Paul as “fiery” interesting. I actually found that it sounded relaxed – but then I was watching on the small screen, not there in the room. It was certainly the most coherent and focused bit of speaking I’ve ever heard Barr deliver.

    Susan, the YouTube didn’t capture it well. You will note that both Dave Weigel (of Reason) and I described Paul’s speech as really good too, but the YouTube didn’t capture that well, either.

    Also, the audience response to either speech wasn’t captured well on the video. As speeches go (they often get boring to me, as I hear more than my fair share of them) both were well presented.

  63. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Bob,

    You write:

    “the fact is Libertarians tend to draw former Rs and are at least rhetorically in tune with aspects of Republicanism. I’d REALLY love it if we attracted more former Ds, but it is what it is”

    A shrug and an “it is what it is” is the last thing I’d expect to see from someone associated with the Libertarian REFORM Caucus. Whatever happened to the notion that the LP can change?

    The LP is ideologically well-suited to left outreach.—it just has to choose to do that outreach instead of remaining stuck in its dead-end rut of trying to appeal to a political “right” that will never, ever, ever, ever give up its corporate welfare, its Know-Nothingism, its “cut taxes from the top down, but never mind that down part,” its dedication to keeping middle class entitlements going and growing to buy votes, its faux “federalism” where rights are concerned but never where its own desire for regulation is concerned, etc.

    The first step to breaking out of the “right-wing rut” is to quit pasting “Libertarian” stickers on the foreheads of Republican Retread candidates and trying to pass them off as the real thing.

  64. Trent Hill Says:

    As someone from another party who is vastly interested in all the CP tickets—I’ll say this.

    Barr/Johnson or Johnson/Barr would be,quite possibly, the strongest third-party ticket the LP ever had and the strongest ticket in the 3rd party ‘08 field.

    Of course, you’ve got to contend with the possibility that the Greens could pull off Nader/McKinney or McKinney/Nader. And the CP could get Smith/Moore or Moore/Smith.

    You get all of those tickets and this is a 5 way race. With the LP and CP splitting the “disgruntled conservative” vote.

  65. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Barr’s main point in the intro seemed to be that Ron Paul (and, by extension, Bob Barr) was a ‘real conservative’. Given the audience (CPAC attendees), I can see the appeal of the message, but we are left with two alternatives: (1) Barr and Paul were pandering, or (2) Barr and Paul want to be known as ‘conservatives’, and are happy to be described thusly. As Paul is apparently sticking with the Republican Party, that makes sense for him. As Barr runs a conservative PAC that funds Republican candidates, that makes sense for him as well. Whether it makes sense for someone who represents the Libertarian Party is something that Libertarians will have to decide.

    Barr was presenting Paul to a conservative audience, and the libertarians there are used to the tag. However, I can tell you that Barr is very unapologetic about his Libertarian Party connections when dealing with conservative VIPs.

    Unlike Ron Paul, I don’t believe he’d avoid the “libertarian” tag—especially on national television, except possible when dealing with narrowly targeted audiences.

  66. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Paul avoids the “libertarian tag” because he’s running as a Republican. Barr would be running as a Libertarian in your scenario, so I’m not sure I find your “I don’t believe he’d avoid the “libertarian” tag” very reassuring, especially when you follow with an ‘except when’. If you’re trying to bolster support for Barr as a presidential candidate within the LP, ‘he probably won’t publicly disown the Party he’s a candidate for’ is really a very lukewarm endorsement.

    This piece has an interesting comment from Ron Paul on the possibility of his mixing in third party affairs while remaining a Republican candidate:

    “I may well have an influence and I will make statements and maybe there will be somebody I can support …”

    http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/politics/blog/2008/02/ron_paul_will_not_support_a_jo.html

    I really really would like to see the LP steer clear of this dangerously close association with the Republican Party. I hope to have a hand in that steering away as part of the next LNC.

  67. MensaMenses Says:

    I’m still confused about who the radicals are? Are they people to the left in the libertarian world or are they anarchists?

    If they are anarchists, Barr would still be their best bet. If they are to the left, it depends on whether issues like immigration or abortion are priorities over the war in Iraq or civil liberties?

    Does one of you big-EL people want do explain this to me?

  68. Steven R Linnabary Says:

    Who says that is really a cigar?? Could it be a blunt?? How Libertarian is he?? If it is a cigar, is it of questionable origin?? How Libertarian is he??

    Seriously, when I first heard a couple of years ago that Barr had joined the LP, I was flabbergasted! Then I heard he’d been appointed to the LNC. Too weird for me. I can remember when Barr was the most reviled man in Congress.

    Then a friend reminded me that this sort of thing had happened before. When Saul of Tarsus became St. Paul.

    With that in mind, are we ready to see the LP not neccessarily change direction, but to be known as a “conservative” party? The Christianity that St. Paul preached was not the same thing as the Christianity preached by the disciples. Close, but no cigar.

    PEACE
    Steve

  69. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Susan,

    I’d prefer for our candidates to have the support from as many reasonable (KKK and a few other groups notwithstanding) groups and people possible in order to establish the greatest coalition that can be built.

    I’d support a left libertarian or a middle-of-the-road libertarian (my preference) who could build as large a coalition. Unfortunately, such people who also have both electoral experience and name recognition within their bases rarely exist and aren’t running for office.

    Perhaps the solution with a right-leaning libertarian campaign is to ensure a solid approach for recruiting left-leaning supporters. The opposite applies as well. We’ve got to look at the potential of any given race while keeping the long term interests of the party in mind, too.

  70. Stephen Gordon Says:

    I’m still confused about who the radicals are? Are they people to the left in the libertarian world or are they anarchists?

    I’d say it is a bit of both. I’d also add that each of them will disagree with my assessment, unless they merely agree with me to be disagreeable. :)

  71. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Knappster: A shrug and an “it is what it is” is the last thing I’d expect to see from someone associated with the Libertarian REFORM Caucus. Whatever happened to the notion that the LP can change?

    Bob: Yes, it can change, of course. Make book on that. I joined the Reform Caucus to make institutional change that allows libertarian-leaning Rs, Ds and independents to join the LP, and to rid the platform of highly theoretical extremism that’s sorta interesting to talk about in the dorm room, but is a millstone for BOTH electoral efforts AND education.

    KNAPP: The LP is ideologically well-suited to left outreach.—it just has to choose to do that outreach instead of remaining stuck in its dead-end rut of trying to appeal to a political “right” that will never, ever, ever, ever give up its corporate welfare, its Know-Nothingism, its “cut taxes from the top down, but never mind that down part,” its dedication to keeping middle class entitlements going and growing to buy votes, its faux “federalism” where rights are concerned but never where its own desire for regulation is concerned, etc.

    BOB: Tom, I don’t disagree. If Barr or Johnson are near-term options, however, the odds are great that they can cast the net many, many times wider than another Badnarik-type of candidate, i.e., an unknown, non politician. I’ll trade off some of my lefty sensibilities for the prospect of prime-time exposure all day long. From 09 to 12, you and I can sing the praises of bottom-up tax cutting as strategically superior.

    KNAPP: The first step to breaking out of the “right-wing rut” is to quit pasting “Libertarian” stickers on the foreheads of Republican Retread candidates and trying to pass them off as the real thing.

    BOB: The challenge of being in the right-wing rut is minor IMO compared with the LPs tiny size and resources. My MO is: First things first. And go with the flow, but do your best to steer things in a virtuous direction.

  72. Susan Hogarth Says:

    MM,

    Radicals within the LP are committed to keeping the Party on a course consistent with basic (thus ‘radical’ in the sense of ‘going to the roots’) libertarian principle. We are neither right nor left, but strictly libertarian. Some of us are anarchists.

    Among radicals, non-interventionism is a key issue at this time because the US government is maintaining a system of overseas occupation that is basically a military empire. Most radicals, I think, are strictly open-borders, though some sympathize with a Hoppean anti-open-borders position.

    I am a radical. I find it difficult to analyze Barr as a potential candidate because I’ve never heard him give a straight answer to a question. For instance, I see people referring to him as being anti-Iraq war, but I can’t find any clear written statement on that from him. Would he commit to removing troops immediately upon taking office as president? Would he pull troops out of Afghanistan? Korea? Germany? Will he support the LP’s position on the War on Drug Users, or only the very watered-down version of it for which he is getting so much credit as ‘most improved’?

    One specific example:
    On the issue where Barr purports to be most libertarian – privacy – he only looks good when put up against Dana Rohrbacher, and even there he can’t apparently even bring himself to condemn government spying against Americans except as ‘bad policy’ under certain conditions – as when he says:

    One, it’s bad policy for our government to be spying on American citizens through the National Security Agency. Secondly, it’s bad to be spying on Americans without court oversight. And thirdly, it’s bad to be spying on Americans apparently in violation of federal laws against doing it without court order.

    Can’t he simply say that the US government should not be in the spying business? It’s really not that hard. And it’s addressed even in the remnants© of our platform:

    http://www.lp.org/issues/platform_all.shtml#propriv

    The individual’s right to privacy, property, and right to speak or not to speak should not be infringed by the government. The government should not use electronic or other means of covert surveillance of an individual’s actions or private property without the consent of the owner or occupant.

    It doesn’t say “except when the government makes a law saying it’s OK” or “except when the government courts say it’s OK”. It says it is not OK for the government to spy on individuals, and that’s a radical libertarian response and one that Barr has seemingly not been able to embrace.

    And on an internal level: will Barr continue to conduct large-scale fund raising for Republican candidates through his PAC while sprinkling a few thousands among Libertarian parties and candidates? Will he use LP mailing lists to send such folks as Arlen Specter and Lindsey Graham, for whom he raised funds in 2007 while serving as a representative on the Libertarian National Committee? Is that really what Libertarians want as a future for our Party – to become an appendix of and fund raising organ for the Republican Party?

    I do think much of this discussion is vastly premature, and based on Gordon’s desire for something juicy to talk about and the bonus of floating Barr to see what reaction he gets. Obviously, I’m willing to play along to some degree, or I wouldn’t be typing away here. But I think Barr should be taken no more seriously as a candidate than he takes himself – and right now that’s at 0%.

  73. Susan Hogarth Says:

    I wrote Will he use LP mailing lists to send such folks as Arlen Specter and Lindsey Graham, for whom he raised funds in 2007 while serving as a representative on the Libertarian National Committee?

    That ought to have been Will he use LP mailing lists to send such folks as Arlen Specter and Lindsey Graham, for whom he raised funds in 2007 while serving as a representative on the Libertarian National Committee, back to Congress?

  74. Stephen Gordon Says:

    I do think much of this discussion is vastly premature, and based on Gordon’s desire for something juicy to talk about and the bonus of floating Barr to see what reaction he gets.

    I wouldn’t have floated Barr’s name like this if Robert Stacy McCain hadn’t written his article.

  75. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Will he use LP mailing lists to send such folks as Arlen Specter and Lindsey Graham, for whom he raised funds in 2007 while serving as a representative on the Libertarian National Committee, back to Congress?

    Barr doesn’t have access to LP mailing lists. And the LNC/Judiciary Committeee would chop off his head (and/or staff heads) if LP lists were used for non-LP candidates.

    However, an LP run would give Barr the ability to generate larger personal lists where he would have to cater to LP candidates and activities.

  76. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Can’t he simply say that the US government should not be in the spying business? It’s really not that hard. And it’s addressed even in the remnants© of our platform…

    Amount of times Shane C., Bill R., Badnarik, or me have been on CNN/Blitzer discussing the issue: Zero.

    While all of us have been in the national media on the general issue, none of us has hit this level of media exposure. That should make my point right there.

  77. Stephen Gordon Says:

    KNAPP: The first step to breaking out of the “right-wing rut” is to quit pasting “Libertarian” stickers on the foreheads of Republican Retread candidates and trying to pass them off as the real thing.

    Then give us some Democratic “Retread candidates” so we start discussing how to get out of the “left-wing rut.”

    Please, please, please!

    I’d love to be holding a debate about whether we should nominate Mike Gravel, Bill Richardson, Ron Paul or Bob Barr. Instead of whining about retreads from the right, how about recruiting some retreads from the left.

  78. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Susan gets to the root, indeed. If one views the top of the ticket as a “representative,” that might lead one to want a Phillies or a Kubby.

    If one views the LP’s prez candidate as one who generates positive interest in his or her campaign and the LP with credibility and celebrity, Root might do, Barr and Johnson far more so.

    As I’ve already started the Draft Hogath movement, here’s another:

    DRAFT VENTURA.

    Indeed, Ventura might eclipse Barr and Johnson. The dude’s actually been elected as a 3rd party candidate, and he might be more aligned with classic libertarian positions than Barr and Johnson.

  79. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Instead of whining about retreads from the right, how about recruiting some retreads from the left.

    You really view this as progress?

  80. Susan Hogarth Says:

    While all of us have been in the national media on the general issue, none of us has hit this level of media exposure.

    So how does that benefit either the LP or libertarianism? Barr said nothing particularly libertarian in that discussion.

    Just getting ‘exposure’ isn’t a plus for the LP, if the exposure doesn’t highlight Libertarian Party positions or indeed contradicts them.

  81. Itch Says:

    Milnes, dude, if you got any scoop on Scratch’s death, you gotta come forward. Looks like the lnc shemale’s got an alibi. Peeps working for the lp think Imperato’s boys took him out when he started getting all gnostic and freaky deaky about what’s really goin’ down on the lnc.

    Tom Knapp, bald headed Marine dude, chooses hot black chick over old white dudes. That’s manly. I respect that.

  82. Robert Milnes Says:

    Steve, Susan, Tom, the problem with “recruiting” or reaching out to leftists is that you would be TAKING their vote-assuming you succeed-FROM wherever they would otherwise vote i.e. STEAL them. So leftists who would vote green except wind up voting democrat vote libertarian INSTEAD of both. + there ALREADY is about a 7% crossover. Take enough votes from the dems & become a spoiler allowing the republican warmonger to win. True there is not MUCH difference between the dems & reps, but there IS SOME. Better to let the greens be the inclusive leftists & ALLIANCE would in effect BORROW their votes in each particular case for mutual benefit-successful election of the particular candidate. Susan, unfortunately libertarians have necessarily a relationship with reps (conservatism) & dems (progressivism). The obvious example of the latter would be Teddy Roosevelt. Yet he was a REPUBLICAN elected to VP. I’ve gotten a lot of grief from pointing to him. & you & Tom have given me grief about how Kubby is a true (radical) libertarian & would reach out to the left. Not good enough for an alliance.

  83. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Barr doesn’t have access to LP mailing lists. And the LNC/Judiciary Committeee would chop off his head (and/or staff heads) if LP lists were used for non-LP candidates.

    The essential point is that Barr has shown himself willing to actively fund raise for Republican party candidates while serving as a representative of the Libertarian Party. As a candidate, he would be generating expanded personal lists which would presumably be used to further his funding efforts for Republicans. Why should anyone think otherwise?

  84. Susan Hogarth Says:

    you & Tom have given me grief

    Really? As far as I can recall, this is the only time I’ve ever responded to you.

  85. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Steve,

    You write:

    “Barr doesn’t have access to LP mailing lists. And the LNC/Judiciary Committeee would chop off his head (and/or staff heads) if LP lists were used for non-LP candidates.”

    Given that LNC and LPHQ have been using LP lists for a non-LP candidate for months now, with Barr’s participation in a unanimous LNC vote to support that non-LP candidate, I don’t find your assurances on that very convincing.

    “However, an LP run would give Barr the ability to generate larger personal lists where he would have to cater to LP candidates and activities.”

    The reverse seems to have been true in the past. Once again, Ron Paul is the historical example. The “catering” with respect to Paul has been very much in the opposite direction. Paul runs for president, we nominate him, he builds a list, then he goes back to the Republican Party and signs letters to Libertarian voters asking them to support Republican incumbents over LP challengers. The only “catering” to the LP that I’ve noticed is that he’s happy to hold our coats while we fumble with our checkbooks.

  86. Stephen Gordon Says:

    The difference between Barr and Paul is that Barr (I’ve been introduced by him to serious GOP players quite a few times now) doesn’t just hide from the LP, he goes out of his way to inject the words “Libertarian Party” into introductions and conversations and such. In another example, he got into it with Bruce Bartlett the other day and was strongly defending the LP.

    Paul has hidden from the LP and the “l” word; Barr seems to be looking for every excuse possible to introduce it.

    I can’t promise anything about list usage, but the signals I have personally recieved indicate that he’s looking for the opportunity to steer as closely to the LP as possible.

    Keep in mind that I predicted some of his work with the ACLU in public, broke the story about him working with MPP, was the first (that I know of) to catch his opposition to the Iraq War. I’ve been pretty close to accurate in the past and a lot of this has been based on instinct. Will I be wrong about something about Barr in the future? Certainly. However, movement being made in the proper direction has been consistent—there is now a track record and the slope continues in our direction.

  87. Susan Hogarth Says:

    he goes out of his way to inject the words “Libertarian Party” into introductions and conversations and such

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22libertarian+party%22+site%3Awww.bobbarr.org&btnG=Search

    The LP is mentioned 21 times on his website. Hardly going out of the way in my book. Even the bioline of the front page story about the amicus brief he wrote for the LP doesn’t bother mentioning that he serves on the LNC:

    “Barr, a former Member of Congress (1995-2003), also served previously as a US Attorney and with the Central Intelligence Agency. He is a lawyer and currently works with national organizations on issues related to privacy and national security.”

    To me, that looks like downplaying rather than going-out-of-the-way. But naturally he wouldn’t want to seem to scary to the folks he asks for money on behalf of Republican candidates.

  88. Susan Hogarth Says:

    catch his opposition to the Iraq War

    Can you point me to that? I’ve never really grokked his position on the war.

  89. Chuck Moulton Says:

    Then give us some Democratic “Retread candidates” so we start discussing how to get out of the “left-wing rut.”

    Please, please, please!

    As I’ve been suggesting for years, the LP should recruit Tim Penny. He’s a libertarian-leaning former Democrat who worked for Cato after serving in Congress for a decade, then ran for Governor of Minnesota 3rd party as Jesse Ventura’s hand picked successor, though he lost that race.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Penny
    http://www.cato.org/pubs/policy_report/pr-ma-tp.html

    I believe Barr/Penny, Penny/Barr, Johnson/Penny, or Penny/Johnson would achieve a better left/right balance than Barr/Johnson or Johnson/Barr.

  90. Robert Milnes Says:

    Susan, true, you have never directly responded to me. But indirectly, when you in this instance support Kubby & as Tom has told me many times, his willingness to reach out to the left. Gives me grief. That is just not good enough & is politics as usual. Take leftist votes & offer them what in return? Radical libertarianism? Even a lot of libs (LReformC) can’t stomach that. We still haven’t resolved Kubby & Smith evidently saying they would immediately withdraw troops from Iraq & evidently (Smith) & definitely(leave the keys) Kubby.

  91. Robert Milnes Says:

    In the instance of Paul & Barr, it looks to me like Barr would be the lesser of two evils.

  92. Itch Says:

    Steve and Tom, getting into it on Third Party Watch. Men fight. That’s manly. I respect that.

    Bob the Liberal, drafting Susie Not a Shemale and a bald headed bad ass. That’s freaky. I respect that.

  93. Robert Milnes Says:

    Above cont: leave the equipment. (in Iraq).

  94. Chuck Moulton Says:

    I should mention Penny is good on ballot access and has been touted by other libertarians.

    http://www.ballot-access.org/2007/11/02/libertarian-party-endorses-ron-paul-ballot-access-bill/
    http://www.nolanchart.com/article2654.html

  95. James Madison Says:

    Stephen;

    Thank you for the thoughtful comments.

  96. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Chuck,

    Have you talked with Penny to see if he might be interested in joining the LP or running for office as a Libertarian?

  97. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Editor’s note: I just deleted a couple of comments because someone just tried to spoof me and “James Madison.” I know who “James Madison” is and he’s a frequent poster here.

    If you are going to use an anonymous nickname, that’s fine. If you are going to use a satirical one (such as EricDondero’sMustache), that’s fine.

    However, comments I see which misrepresent people’s true identities won’t be tolerated on this site.

  98. Little Jim Says:

    Sorry about the spoof identities. Steve, you know who I am,too. MY FAULT and it won’t happen again.

  99. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Jim,

    No problem. I guess I need to post some commenting guidelines.

    Will you be in Birmingham tonight?

    To make it clear: Only Eric Dondero may use “Eric Dondero,” anyone can use “EricDondero’sMustache.”

  100. Itch Says:

    Steve’s laying down the law. That’s manly. I respect that.

    Dudes, you got any scoop on Scratch’s death? You all gotta to come clean dudes. He was a crazy ghey boofer but poisoning an old man is not cool. You don’t want Imperato in the race, that’s cool but you can’t be killing off dudes to get your way. Now you got some chick’s period commenting. That’s messy. I don’t get that.

  101. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Susan,

    Can we know upfront how far Barr has to come for you to acknowledge that he’s a L. (If I recall, Susan, I’m not a L in your eyes, because given the choice between only Locke and Hobbes, I lean to Hobbes.)

    Would Barr have to take Rothbard’s position on voluntary juries? Immediate pullout from American Somoa? Support the notion of Acme Defense Co.? Perhaps even subscribe to his collaborative work with Rockwell on the idea of “rough justice”?

    It would be good to have your series of litmus tests upfront, for the sake of efficienct conversation.

  102. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Chuck,

    I’m liking the Penny concept. You’re the Vice Chair…go for it!

  103. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Not a Unity 08 fan, but a combo of Penny and Barr or Johnson uses the Unity 08 formula, but substitutes a libertarian direction for mere “centrism.”

    If Barr doesn’t want to be drafted, perhaps he should be the emissary to Johson and Penny.

  104. Robert Milnes Says:

    Steve, Barr has possibilities, OK? If you can get him to specifically agree to the progressive alliance strategy, that could put him somewhat comparable to Teddy Roosevelt. I like that. That’s manly. The closest I can come is to get the LP nomination & then go to the National Forest to try to alleviate my depression & get into shape. Communications via Dish & Starband (or Hughes). As it was I had to go up the ridge a couple of thousand feet to get a cellphone to work. & I’d want an advisory position WITH TOP CLEARANCE.

  105. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Tom K.,

    I wasn’t too active during the Harry Browne years, but wasn’t there some self-dealing-type stuff going on in those years as well?

    Near as I can tell, Browne was not Republican, much more of a nonarchist, yes?

    Politics, even libertarian politics, tends to let off oil spills. I hate that shit, but I’ve come to accept it.

  106. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Can we know upfront how far Barr has to come for you to acknowledge that he’s a L. (If I recall, Susan, I’m not a L in your eyes, because given the choice between only Locke and Hobbes, I lean to Hobbes.)

    Interesting way of putting it (Locke/Hobbes), but not my way of putting it.

    The issue isn’t whether I recognize Barr as a Libertarian – it is Barr representing the positions of the Libertarian Party. In order to do that, he would have to well, you know, actually represent the positions of the LP. I know everyone has some issue with the Platform, but I’d like to see Barr unequivocally endorse at least one platform plank before he is asked to be our representative by the membership. Then a second. Then a third. That would be a good start. But let’s at least start with one issue. Barr’s written and spoken publicly a lot – perhaps someone can show me something he’s written that is in substantive agreement with at least one of our platform planks. I’m not a student of his writings, so doubtless I have missed something.

    It would be good to have your series of litmus tests upfront, for the sake of efficienct conversation.

    Let’s start with the platform, as I suggested above. But it’s interesting that you mention the idea of a litmus test, because I’ve been kicking around this idea of what a reasonable Lib litmus test might be, and I’m thinking about this: Does the candidate support decreases in spending for every single government program? I like this as a litmus because it allows people to select representatives who will always work to reduce government and not fall into the ‘ratchet trap’, where two politicians trade approval for spending for ‘vital’ government programs, and government grows while being run by a bunch of putatively ‘small government’ politicians.

  107. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Bob,

    You write:

    “I wasn’t too active during the Harry Browne years, but wasn’t there some self-dealing-type stuff going on in those years as well?”

    I don’t think we’re talking about the same thing.

    The word “self-dealing,” to me, means feathering one’s personal financial nest. I haven’t accused Paul of that. I haven’t spent a lot of time in his FEC reports, but to the extent that I’ve looked at them, there’s nothing especially shady going on. Yes, he contracts out his printing to a company owned by a close associate’s family … but I don’t believe he made up that printing for the purpose of doing so. He needed printing, and he sent his business to a friend rather than to some faceless company he didn’t know. No problem.

    I’m not closed to the possibility that the last few million bucks in Paul’s treasury may get siphoned off in ways that provide comfortable retirements rather than effective campaigning, but I haven’t really seen that happening. I’ve got no complaints there.

    Nonetheless, we should be careful not to conflate a candidate’s interests with a party’s interests. They’re not always the same thing, and when toting up what a candidate has done “for the party,” things he’s done that benefit him exclusively, rather than the party, shouldn’t be included, and things he’s done that benefit him AT THE EXPENSE of the party certainly should be included.

    What Paul has done for the party is certainly more than nothing. He speaks at LP events and such. He hasn’t just blown us off.

    However, it is largely a one-way street in other areas, especially financially.

    Paul has used the LP to expand his fundraising list, but ask anyone at LPHQ whether they’ve ever been able to get him to loan or rent HIS list to US.

    Paul is happy to have the support of Libertarians when he runs as a Republican, but when was the last time you heard Republican Ron Paul endorse a Libertarian candidate? On the contrary—in 2000, he signed a letter mailed to registered Libertarians in two US House districts in California, urging them NOT to vote for the Libertarian candidates, but for the Republican incumbents.

    This isn’t about Paul lining his pockets. It’s about Paul plucking the LP to feather his political nest, while shedding a lot less of his own plumage to feather ours.

    Now, back to Barr:

    I happen to have taken a personal liking to Bob Barr when I met him. He passed the “kid test”—my 9- and 6-year-old can spot a fake a mile away and won’t have anything to do with one. They were all over Barr. When he spoke from the podium, and when I spoke with him personally, he seemed very genuine.

    But … genuine isn’t enough:

    It’s incumbent upon us to establish that he substantially represents what our party stands for before we put him in a position of leadership or nominate him as a candidate. I’m not saying he doesn’t, although like Susan I’d like to see more from him on the issues.

    Regardless of how “bad” or “good” he is in terms of representing our positions, whether or not we should have people who become famous in other parties represent us as candidates is a point of strategic consideration. I’m not saying we should never, ever, ever do it, and it’s not personal with Barr—but when we constantly identify ourselves with Republicans and former Republicans, we ARE going to be tarred with the brush of “oh, those guys—they’re just the other Republicans.”

    I’m not a “silver bullet” guy. I don’t believe that doing or not doing some single X is the magic key to success. However, I do believe that libertarianism and the Libertarian Party desperately need to establish their own identities separate and distinct from concepts such as “conservative” and “liberal” and from party labels like “Republican” and Democrat.” Barr is well-known, and he is generally known as a “conservative Republican.” To the extent that we choose him to represent us, we are choosing to identify ourselves with “conservative Republicanism,” even if he’s gone some kind of Super Duper Spiritual Libertarian Conversion recently. That’s a cost. It may not be a deal-breaker, but it should be weighed in the balance against the benefits.

  108. Paul K. Says:

    Whatever your view is on RP, his campaign has generated a historical opportunity for the LP - and proven libertarian ideas are capable of generating big bucks. In order to exploit this chance however, the candidate must have at least minimal credibility in terms of experience such as “former congressman” or “former governor”. If Paul doesn’t want the LP nomination Barr seems a logical choice to pick up where he leaves off particularly if Ron officially endorses him. Gary Johnson would be a great choice too.

    I’m not so concerned about “purity” issues. The LP has been pure for years and see what it has gotten us. I’m more concerned about scams, like Browne apparently pulled.

    A strong LP ticket in this election building on the support and interest generated by the Paul campaign would put the LP on the (real) map and probably cost McCain the election. Blowback is hell.

    Regards. PHK

  109. Susan Hogarth Says:

    McCain is going to lose the election without the LP’s help.

    There’s no plus in having a “former congressman” if his record as a congressman was abysmal. “Most improved” is certainly a plus for Barr within the LP, but as a representative of the LP, Barr’s congressional record would be an embarrassment to the Party.

  110. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Susan,

    Would you prefer to have someone with 90% on message to whom people will listen or someone 100% on message about whom no one will even care?

  111. RadicalReformer Says:

    Gordon has a good question. I’ve got two more for Hogarth:

    1) Would you vote for yourself for president?
    2) Would you get as many votes as Milnes in a presidential nomination bid?

  112. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Stephen,

    Do you have someone who is 90% on message to suggest?

    I think folks who like to rub shoulders with politicos way overestimate how much real value attaches to names of ex-pols like Bob Barr. And unfortunately, to the extent that the name would trigger associations, they would all be pretty much negative from a Libertarian standpoint.

  113. Stephen Gordon Says:

    I think folks who like to rub shoulders with politicos way overestimate how much real value attaches to names of ex-pols like Bob Barr.

    When I start seeing Steve Kubby, George Phillies or Christine Smith regularly on national television programming, major stories in major newspapers, etc., perhaps we can have the argument about “real value.”

    Until then, there is no point of comparison and I’d rather move in a generally proper direction than to not move at all.

  114. Paul K. Says:

    Susan: I actually agree with you about “associations”. His CIA experience alone would undoubtably freakout a large part of Ron’s more consiratorial following. I don’t think leading the fight to impeach Clinton is all that great a recommendation either. My point is for the MSM, contributors or ex-Ron supporters not versed in the nuances of the LP to take a candidate even half seriously they need to have done something exceptional. And I don’t mean hosting a radio call-in show.

    For now, unless someone can get to Gary Johnson, it looks like Barr is the best we’ve got.

    Regards. Paul

  115. Robert Milnes Says:

    Steve, I will assume you are referring to me & I’ll take that as a compliment.

  116. Robert Milnes Says:

    Steve, I’m trying to give your guy a fair consideration. What is it, you think he can’t measure up to a comparison to Teddy Roosevelt? I have my reservations also, as expressed here by others. For all I know, BB could be a CIA plant.

  117. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Susan, I fail your litmus test, then. For a while, I would not advocate Social Security cuts, although I’m open to taxing all SS benefits, in a sense a cut. Does taxing back SS benefits make me L enough? I am of course for gradually transitioning away from SS.

    You make sense to me to the extent that former Congressmen (Barr and Penny) or former Governors (Johnson and Ventura) is not quite enough for me to support any of these draft candidates. From the little I know of all of them, it’s worthy of exploration, in my book.

    I like to think outside the box. I am a L, after all! All things haven’t been considered…we’re just brainstorming here, as I see it.

    If I had a litmus test, it would be: Will this candidate articulate a message that sounds something like a net increase in liberty, without any major deviations from that message. I’d carve out my pro-choice bias, because I respect—but disagree—with the pro-lfe position. I would not, however, want the LP prez candidate to be a strident pro-lifer. If he or she was for national parks, say, I’d overlook that one.

  118. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Steve,

    You write:
    ——-
    When I start seeing Steve Kubby, George Phillies or Christine Smith regularly on national television programming, major stories in major newspapers, etc., perhaps we can have the argument about “real value.”

    Until then, there is no point of comparison and I’d rather move in a generally proper direction than to not move at all.——-

    Actually, there IS a point of comparison:

    Google News search on “Bob Barr”—32 results returned
    Google News search on “Steve Kubby”—26 results returned

    Bob Barr is a member of a former congresscritter, a member of the LNC, and the subject of a year-long near-constant propaganda campaign from LPHQ, and he just spoke at the biggest national conservative political event of the year.

    Steve Kubby is a declared presidential candidate, which makes him one of a group that the LNC and LPHQ have done their damnedest to ignore and marginalize over the last year.

    Does the fact that Barr barely tops Kubby reflect poorly on Barr, on Kubby, on both, or on the LPHQ/LNC which has invested so much fruitless effort in exploiting his excongresscrittership for publicity it is obviously not getting?

  119. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Stephen,

    Do you have some sort of formula including ‘% on message’, ‘media exposure’, ‘negatives’, etc.? If so, please share it. Because otherwise your point seems to be just that Barr’s exposure/notoriety is greater than that of (for instance) Steve Kubby. One might say the same of many people that are unsuitable to represent the LP as a presidential candidate.

    There are things that Barr has said and done very publicly that are not only not on-message, but are very off message. I’m not sure how his greater exposure will be a net positive under those circumstances.

  120. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Susan, I fail your litmus test, then.

    I’m so shocked.

  121. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Tom K.,
    First, let me say I really enjoy discussing issues with you, even when we don’t agree. You’re thoughtful, which is a rare quality that we could use a lot more of in the LP.

    I used the term “self dealing” as a short-hand catch-all. I’m not sure what is the appropriate financial relationship between a campaign and the Party. It appears that candidates view their list as proprietary, and I can’t think of a reason why that’s incorrect.

    I like your thinking on Barr. At this point, I’m merely intrigued with the idea. In some ways, I like the concept of Penny or Ventura more, and possibly Johnson, too. Barr, however, has risked quite a bit of his political capital with the LP and is a member and NatCon rep, which says to me the guy is serious about Liberty.

    I’m not a silver bullet guy either, and none of these 4 draft prospects represent a silver bullet, as I see it. The LP is a single or double A team at the moment, and the best I can imagine is jumping up to triple A, which was a spot the Reform Party briefly achieved. Absolute best case is the majors in 2012.

    I definitely prefer that Ls come across as something other than “real conservatives.” We’re not that, that would be false advertising. For the masses, I prefer fiscal conservative/social liberal/war averse/reasonable green as our positioning.

  122. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Susan,

    And I’m shocked that you would either excommunicate me or send me to re-education camp.

    Still, I don’t want Ma and Pa Kettle eating cat food…silly me!

  123. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Stephen,

    When you have a free moment, I would appreciate the Iraq position of Barr’s – I’ve had trouble nailing down his position on this.

    A position on ending the occupation of Afghanistan would be a bonus.

    I did see where he suggests the US government should meddle in the affairs of Iran (“Should Washington simply sit back and leave Iran alone …? Of course not.”), and where he seems to be advocating economic sanctions against Iran (“Positive steps could include strengthening economic and political pressure on Iran”), but I still can’t nail down his positions on Iraq and Afghanistan. I’m hoping you can help.

  124. Susan Hogarth Says:

    ...you would either excommunicate me or send me to re-education camp…

    I don’t want Ma and Pa Kettle eating cat food…

    Exaggerate much?

  125. Stephen Gordon Says:

    OK, guys (and gals):

    The debate (and remaining questions) are interesting, but I’ve got a meeting, a long teleconference, and another meeting to go to—all of which are LP or future-of-Ron-Paul-movement related.

    I’ll get back to answering questions either late tonight or early in the morning.

    Perhaps I’ll have a “magic” formula developed by then, too. :)

    Steve

  126. Libertarian Breaking News Says:

    Los Angeles,CA—Political Gadfly Dick “Itch” Masterson checked into Promises Malibu Alcohol and Drug Rehab Treatment Facility reports TMZ.

    Next: Has Third Party Watch Jumped the Shark?

  127. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Susan,

    In re: the Locke/Hobbes dichotomy, I’ll take a page from your friend and mine, Brian Holtz, our exchange April 10, 2007 was:

    Bob: As an orthodox libertarian in recovery, I know that most rely on locke and the mixing of labor with the soil thing…an interesting and somewhat helpful abstract construct. i guess i’m more of a hobbes man, myself.

    Susan: That much is appallingly clear.

    I’ve even had the audacity to suggest that Bastiat’s approach may not bring us to the Promised Land. But, hope spings eternal for me, as I was always a fan of Spooner’s take on the meaning of “We, the people….”

    I love you, Susan. You keep us honest. And I AM paying attention, even when we don’t agree.

  128. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Quick response before I go:

    Google News search on “Bob Barr”—32 results returned
    Google News search on “Steve Kubby”—26 results returned

    Barr could make that reference irrevelant at any moment of his choosing. I could make those numbers jump in either direction with just a bit of effort.

    Tom, of all people, you certainly know this.

  129. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Bob,

    I don’t necessarily regard treating lists as proprietary to be “incorrect” or an ethical problem or whatever. What I’m saying is that we should look realistically at whether or not putting the party behind a particular candidate is a win-win proposition, or a proposition in which the party is serving to boost someone else without itself being boosted in something like a proportional manner. List access might be part of that, or it might not.

    When we nominate an unknown who represents us well, we don’t gain much in the short term. On the other hand, we don’t lose much, either.

    When we nominate someone whose name rec, etc. don’t represent us very accurately, there’s a cost that needs to be included in the calculation. For example, maybe we go from 0.3% to 1%, but whoop-de-fucking-doo if that particular candidate turns off three times as many potential future LP voters as he turns on actual current LP voters, and we’re right back to 0.3% next time. It’s hard to get new LP voters. It’s easy to drive away potential ones. Every time we pander to the GOP without anything like a balance, for every recruit we get I bet we permanently turn off two or three potentially interested Democrats.

    The thing is, Barr could possibly be a “Cinderella Story” that plays to both left AND right … if he, and we, were willing to approach it that way. He didn’t come straight from the US House of Representatives’ GOP caucus to the LNC. He stopped at a few other places first, including the ACLU. But every positioning of him I see from/related to the LP is “conservative ex-GOP congresscritter.” WTF?

    The story shouldn’t be that the LP has netted a conservative Republican to front for it. The story should be that a FORMER conservative Republican is NOT a conservative Republican anymore, but rather a libertarian and a Libertarian, and the best way to highlight that is to have him fronting on issues he’s changed his mind on rather than just massaging egos in the party and movement he allegedly walked away from.

    At this point, I see no reason to believe that if nominated, Barr would run as anything but “the REAL conservative Republican—ignore the odd label, please.” If that’s the case, I don’t see it as a win-win deal. It might have a salutary one time effect on our vote total, but that mild positive effect would not last, while the not-quite-as-mild negative effect WOULD.

    I don’t want to be mean-spirited here, but what I see when I look at how LPHQ —and Steve Gordon—approach politics is that they’re running around like dogs under the table, gobbling scraps and hoping that if they wag their tails hard enough, they’ll eventually be invited to sit at the table.

    Thing is, the Republican and Democratic Parties aren’t our friends. They aren’t going to be our friends. We’re never going to get a seat at the table by standing on our hind legs and dancing around and humping their girlfriends’ legs and pretending to be like them only cuddly and furry. All that’s going to get us is a pat on the head and then the kennel for the night when they get tired of it. If we want what’s on the table, we have to go pit bull on their asses, not chum it up with them.

  130. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Robert,

    I knew that was the exchange you were thinking of, but I’m afraid I don’t really see Locke and Hobbes as opposite sides of a dichotomy. I’m just not a big fan of Hobbes (to put it mildly).

  131. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Steve,

    You write:

    “I could make those numbers jump in either direction with just a bit of effort.”

    Then you should probably do that before you make a claim that you know the current numbers will demolish ;-)

  132. Susan Hogarth Says:

    I love it when Knapp goes metaphorical.

  133. Gene Berkman Says:

    Former Congressman Tim Penny is an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, and has ties to the National Taxpayers Union. He received 14% of the vote for Governor in 2002, as candidate of the Independence Party.

    On the down side, Tim Penny has endorsed John McCain for President.

  134. Chuck Moulton Says:

    Looks like you’re right about Penny endorsing McCain. That’s certainly a big negative. He endorsed January 2007 (before Ron Paul announced).

    Anyway, I never claimed Penny was perfect. He’s the best libertarian Democrat I can think of though. There are very few of them.

  135. Libertarian Breaking News Says:

    Cast your vote now!

    When did Third Party Watch Jump the Shark?

    10. Never Jumped.

    9. “Everybody Hates Allen.”

    8. Mistaken Identity: Eric tells off Paulie…or does he?

    7. Introducing Joey.

    6. Joey in “Fired!”

    5. Coverage of Unity ‘08.

    4. Steve comes home.

    3. Brian and Susan get entire thread.

    2. A very special TWP: Scratch dies.

    1. Speculation that Bob Barr might run for some office, some day.

  136. Wes Benedict Says:

    Google News search on “Bob Barr”—32 results returned
    Google News search on “Steve Kubby”—26 results returned

    Google News search on “Wes Benedict”—3 results returned (representing 50% growth in 24 hours)

  137. Wes Benedict Says:

    When did Third Party Watch Jump the Shark?

    1.5 I thought it was the dramatic moment (which had most of America and at least 300% of the Ron Paul Revolution on the edge of her seat) when Steve Gordon cried wee-wee all the way home because Ron Paul wouldn’t return his calls:

    http://thirdpartywatch.com/2008/01/15/dr-paul-can-you-hear-me/

  138. Andy Says:

    “Eric Dondero Says:

    February 12th, 2008 at 7:14 am
    Hey “Taxactivst” is that you Paul Frankel?”

    Eric is still seeing “Paulies” behind every bush. LOL!

  139. Phil Sawyer Says:

    The Libertarian Party should offer its presidential nomination to the Honorable Ralph Nader!

  140. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Tom,
    I agree that Barr (or Johnson or Ventura, not so much Penny in light of the McCain endorsement) is better positioned as a Cinderella story.

    I don’t agree in the politics of alienation and divisiveness. I want peace, so I prefer to use peaceful means to achieve it, not just in action, but in rhetoric, too. Rather than a Barr-type saying I’m no longer a conservative Republican, I’d prefer to say something like my liking has evolved. I’m for liberty, across the board.

    Nor do I think it’s an either/or situation. Of course we need to build from the bottom up, developing our own farm system. But we should be open to the occasional blue bird like Barr, events that COULD take things to the next level.

    As for Cory and Gordon being dogs chasing scraps, in the division of labor, they serve the function of being highly biased for action. That’s their job, in large measure, to get Ls competitive and ultimately elected. As a class, operatives will make mistakes like the Iraq Exit Strategy. (My view is that IES was a step away from being an operative and was more of a think-tank function.) There will be Howard Stern mistakes, which was perhaps mixed in results. Stern was a net-plus in my book.

    We have to be willing to take calculated risks, some of which will work out, some not. I’m certainly for people joining the LP from the Rs, Ds as well as independents—we can’t import new Ls, after all. “Converting” 50 year old Ds by having them read tomes on the evils of antitrust laws seems like a losing strategy to me, too. But, a 50 year old D might vote LP if the candidate is antiwar, doesn’t want to have people starving in the streets, and most importantly is attractive, articulate and non-threatening. I’m certainly NOT for narrowcasting to a tiny subset of society. That goes nowhere UNLESS one views the LP as a kind of religion, saving souls one person at a time.

  141. Robert Capozzi Says:

    make that:

    ...my thinking has evolved.

  142. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Bob,

    “As for Cory and Gordon being dogs chasing scraps, in the division of labor, they serve the function of being highly biased for action.”

    Define “action.”

    I don’t know where you get the idea that I consider “having them read tomes on the evils of antitrust laws” a sound recruitment strategy.

    I’ve made it very clear in the past that I’m not a Rothbardian, and why. However, I do agree with one of the Rothbard Caucus’s key points—a huge key to victory is “principled populism.”

    The LP’s job—if we’re interested in victory—is not to go to CPAC and tell the political class “we’re just like you, let us in.” It’s to go to the American people and tell them “we’re NOT like them, PUT us in.”

  143. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Tom,

    “Action” in this context means doing the nuts-and-bolts of recruiting and grooming and supporting candidates. Or, doing real politics, vs. theorizing. I think of Cory and Gordon as the sales and marketing folks, not R&D.

    Clearer?

    I wasn’t suggesting you personally believe reading tomes is a recruitment strategy. As a general proposition, the LP seems to have a disproportionate number of theorists vs. realpolitick types. Is that not your experience?

    I get that you’re not Rothbardian, and I didn’t mean to suggest you are…not that there’s anything wrong with that ;-) I would say that I’ve seen some Ls who buy The Great One’s concept of “inreach” as being the national LP’s highest and best use. I’d respectfully disagree with that, but nothing stops members from banding together to promote certain theories internally.

    I’m not sure going to CPAC implies what you say. It looked to me like a recruiting opportunity, and that looked like a pretty darned good one to me. Was there an opportunity foregone that had greater prospects?

    I prefer more positive language than your “we’re NOT like them.” I see that as divisive and dismissive. I prefer to offer features and benefits and “style” to the consumer/voter. But let a thousand flowers bloom.

  144. Jim Lesczynski Says:

    I have started an online petition to draft Bob Barr for President:

    http://serfcity.wordpress.com/2008/02/13/draft-bob-barr-for-president/

    Please consider signing it.

  145. Eric Sundwall Says:

    If Jim’s OK with it . . . well there ya go.

  146. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Then you should probably do that before you make a claim that you know the current numbers will demolish

    That was a good one :)

  147. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Gordon: Instead of whining about retreads from the right, how about recruiting some retreads from the left.

    Hogarth: You really view this as progress?

    I’m actually now involved in two efforts, one in recruiting a credible more left-libertarian candidate and of course the Bob Barr angle.

    I’d prefer acting to sitting around and complaining about the efforts of others.

  148. Stephen Gordon Says:

    I think of Cory and Gordon as the sales and marketing folks, not R&D.

    Never heard it put that way before, but that is how it often works out.

  149. Stephen Gordon Says:

    I’ve never really grokked his position on the war.

    I’ve never seen him interviewed on the war, but have talked with him in private and seen him address small LP groups. However, considering he injected this quote into a conversation not directly related to the war should provide one example:

    ROHRABACHER: And by the way, how do we know who wasn’t deterred from blowing up other targets. The fact is—
    BARR: Well, gee, I guess then the president should be able to ignore whatever provision in the Constitution as long as there’s something after the fact that justifies it.

    BARR: Bob, during wartime, you give some powers to the presidency you wouldn’t give in peace time.

    BARR: Do we have a declaration of war, Dana?

    ROHRABACHER: You don’t have to do that.

    BARR: We don’t?

    Susan, you may have to someday accept the fact that most LP politicians are going to choose words that most people can relate to as opposed to reciting the LP platform everytime they are interviewed.

    Additionally, there are a lot of constitutionalist, rule-of-law types within the LP. We nominated one in 2004, remember.

  150. Stephen Gordon Says:

    There are things that Barr has said and done very publicly that are not only not on-message, but are very off message. I’m not sure how his greater exposure will be a net positive under those circumstances.

    Susan, one might make the same argument about you. As a matter of fact, many do.

    Your message isn’t the only one in the LP, Barr’s isn’t, mine isn’t. We all agree on some issues and disagree on others.

  151. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Do you have some sort of formula including ‘% on message’, ‘media exposure’, ‘negatives’, etc.? If so, please share it.

    I saved the toughest question for last. I wish it was as simple as a simple algebraic formula, but there are far too many variable involved. Think calculus, as opposed to algebra.

    Significant factors do include:

    ideology
    the opposition
    timing
    message (the way one presents the ideology is, to many folks, different that the pure philosophical origin of the ideology itself)
    presentation style (mannerisms, emotion, physical appearance)
    candidate background (negatives are important here, so is public service background, education, business successes or losses, etc.)
    personal background (having an affair during 9/11 attack, nasty divorces, ex-wife in Hustler, non payment of taxes or refusal to get a driver’s licence)
    legislative track record
    public statements/articles
    earned media potential (both positive and negative earned media need to be considered)
    fundraising potential
    networking skills (who is in the candidate’s Rolodex who might assist the campaign)
    people skills (does he kiss babies, own the room when he walks into it, etc)
    proven ability to implement positive political change
    personal financial resources

    There are plenty of factors I missed, but you get the picture. Being a reasonable candidate is a lot more than simply having the “right” ideology.

    Question: If the perfect Libertarian candidate perfectly recites the LP platform in the middle of a forest, but no one hears him, is it worth the time and energy to place that candidate in the middle of the empty forest?

  152. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Bob,

    You write:

    “I’m not sure going to CPAC implies what you say [which was “go to CPAC and tell the political class ‘we’re just like you, let us in’] . It looked to me like a recruiting opportunity, and that looked like a pretty darned good one to me. Was there an opportunity foregone that had greater prospects?”

    A single action can imply many things, and I don’t disagree that having a booth at CPAC or having the word “libertarian” used at CPAC can be a good thing.

    However, the overall impression I’ve had of LP staff activity over the last few years is that there’s a second side to these activities—a Rolodex-building, access-seeking side that tends to shape the thinking of those who indulge in it and that can be very harmful if it muscles out the competitive side.

    I guess I’m going to have to get metaphorical again. Let’s do baseball this time.

    Yes, if I am the manager of a minor-league team that I want to make into a major-league team, it might be useful for me to go (if I’m allowed in) to some of the major league teams’ training camps, chat up their players, make friends with their coaches, etc.

    I might get lucky … maybe one of their relief pitchers is tired of playing in Pittsburgh and would come to Peoria if approached correctly. Maybe the scout will drop me a tip about a utility infielder who’s very good but whom the team isn’t picking up for some reason.

    But—if that activity is my main focus, I’m never going to build a major league team. You don’t build a major league team from the tips and scraps and falloffs of another major league team. You don’t build a major league team on luck and on the goodwill of the guys you’re wanting to meet—and BEAT —in next year’s World Series. You build a major league team by scouting the high schools and colleges and offering the better players there something better than what those other major league teams are offering.

    CPAC is not a place full of potential libertarian activists If you’re attending CPAC, you are almost certainly a committed conservative Republican activist. Committed conservative Republican activists don’t take the WSPQ and then play Paul on the road to Damascus. If it was that easy, we’d already have a Libertarian president and congressional majority. We might pick off a few not-yet-especially-ideologically-developed YAF types, but the place is not an outreach Mecca. Its main use is for “access/congeniality” ops, which aren’t bad in themselves but which quickly become bad if their our focus.

    “I prefer more positive language than your ‘we’re NOT like them.’ I see that as divisive and dismissive. I prefer to offer features and benefits and ‘style’ to the consumer/voter. But let a thousand flowers bloom.”

    The carrot is nice, but I’ve yet to see a big election won, or even done well in, without the stick. As I have before, I’ll recommend Dana Milbank’s book on the 2000 election, Smashmouth. Bottom line: Nice guys finish last. The way to win is to relentlessly attack your opponent and hope he whines about it, not to make nice with your opponent. That doesn’t mean you don’t offer your own positives, or that you shouldn’t have a smile and a positive outlook, but nobody is going to vote for a candidate who smiles and says “I’m just like my opponent, only slightly better in some unspecified way.”

    Look: The ONLY thing we have in common, as a general principle, with the GOP and the Democrats is that we’ve agreed to play on the same game board (the electoral system) and follow the basic rules of that game. We AREN’T like them. We’re DIFFERENT —and the differentiation is what we have to make ourselves attractive with. People who are satisfied with their party aren’t going to leave it for an “advertised as a slightly better version of the same thing” party, at least not in considerable numbers, when they’re already with the leading brand.

    I’m still not saying any of this necessarily disqualifies Barr. But if we’re going to run Barr, we need to run him as a libertarian Libertarian, not as a conservative Republican. The latter doesn’t gain anything substantial or lasting for us.

  153. Susan Hogarth Says:

    I’m actually now involved in two efforts, one in recruiting a credible more left-libertarian candidate and of course the Bob Barr angle.

    I’d prefer acting to sitting around and complaining about the efforts of others.

    Way to insult an activist who is working on the campaign of a longtime Libertarian activist (Steve Kubby) who has already committed significant effort and thought to this presidential race and doesn’t need to be ‘recruited’ into it (at, may I say, pretty much the last minute).

    I think there’s much more value in developing Libertarians into competent campaigners than in trying to develop professional campaigners into mixed-message Libertarians. “Recruiting” candidates from outside the Party is, in my opinion, a terrible strategy for the LP - and a wasteful one. For instance, does anyone remember Chuck Moulton’s poker superstar who was considering a VP run? But good luck with the strategy – if you turn up someone who is both a great libertarian spokesman and well-known (in a Good Way) and convince him to run for president, I’ll be the first to thank you for it.

    Susan, one might make the same argument [things … said and done very publicly that are not only not on-message, but are very off message] about you. As a matter of fact, many do.

    More charm from you. Is this your way of flirting? I really can’t see that having a national-level representative flat-out contradicting our platform on a regular basis would be a positive thing – and I think that if we do have such a representative, the less visible he is, the better off we are.

    But as much as I’m tempted to ask you to find something I’ve said or done very publicly that is “off message”, this is not about me. If you’re going to float someone as a possible candidate, he will be examined by activists in the Party. It strikes me that the proper response is to welcome this sort of vetting as a chance to show off what a wonderful Libertarian Barr is, not to gripe about people “complaining” and cast aspersions on their efforts.

  154. Susan Hogarth Says:

    There are plenty of factors I missed, but you get the picture. Being a reasonable candidate is a lot more than simply having the “right” ideology.

    Absolutely. But I view ideology as the prerequisite for a strong candidacy. I’m not sure I see the point in the LP running a candidate who is either not particularly libertarian or is actually anti-libertarian – and I assume I can get your agreement with that. Where we most likely disagree is in the weighting of the various factors including ideology.

    But someone who is not solidly libertarian in an ideological sense can do a lot of harm and spread a lot of misinformation while he is learning (if he even bothers to learn) and in that case, the more visible such a candidate is, the worse the potential damage.

    This lust for third-rate celebs is, in my opinion, worse than a waste of time and activist energy. Sure, I’ve had my Kurt Russell fantasy (so to speak), but I don’t see it panning out and I’m not sure it’d be an unmitigated plus if it did (ref: Howard Stern).

    Like sports? Here’s an analogy: We’re a VERY poor baseball team with some awesome coaches and a crappy stadium in a wretched town. Our best bet is not to spend all our time/energy/bucks trying to bag one half-decent pitcher, but to settle down and concentrate on our farm system and our coaching, and raise our team up by its own bootstraps.

  155. Susan Hogarth Says:

    I guess I’m going to have to get metaphorical again. Let’s do baseball this time.

    I swear on the graves of Lysander Spooner and William Lloyd Garrison that I wrote my sports analogy before I read Knapp’s.

    Weird.

  156. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Way to insult an activist who is working on the campaign of a longtime Libertarian activist (Steve Kubby) who has already committed significant effort and thought to this presidential race and doesn’t need to be ‘recruited’ into it (at, may I say, pretty much the last minute).

    Susan, my apologies. That wasn’t aimed directly at you, but at the general picture of people who complain about anything other people actually do.

    While we may disagree on some issues, the first thing I’ll say about you is that you are doing, not just bitching about others while sitting on your butt.

  157. Stephen Gordon Says:

    It strikes me that the proper response is to welcome this sort of vetting as a chance to show off what a wonderful Libertarian Barr is, not to gripe about people “complaining” and cast aspersions on their efforts.

    I think that if Barr was to become a presidential contender, he would expect as much. I think some people might be surprised as to exactly how libertarian he is right now.

    To be clear—I’m floating articles without his knowledge, permission or approval right now.

  158. Stephen Gordon Says:

    More charm from you. Is this your way of flirting?

    ...waiting for Itch to chime in on this one. :)

  159. Stephen Gordon Says:

    I swear on the graves of Lysander Spooner and William Lloyd Garrison that I wrote my sports analogy before I read Knapp’s.

    Knapp and I already have a deal regarding such graves. While there is no grave to speak of in this case, we do intend to salute him with his favorite beverage. The deceased, in this case, is Hunter S. Thompson.

  160. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Absolutely. But I view ideology as the prerequisite for a strong candidacy. I’m not sure I see the point in the LP running a candidate who is either not particularly libertarian or is actually anti-libertarian – and I assume I can get your agreement with that. Where we most likely disagree is in the weighting of the various factors including ideology.

    While my list wasn’t ordered preferentially, the fact that ideology was number on on the list wasn’t accidental. Keep in mind that none of us would be Libertarians if ideology was of paramount importance.

    Absolute ideolgical purity is a different matter, though. Even Radicals debate Radicals on what is “pure”—and I’m sure L. Neil Smith might disagree with a lot of you.

    And you have my agreement “with that.”

  161. Libertarian Breaking News Says:

    3. Imperato’s Dirty South. Rap Master Dan brings down the house with crunk.

    2. Sports analogies. Itch’s sphere of influence grows.

    1. Special Guest Star. Susan’s Kurt Russell fantasies. Susan sacrifices her virtue to Libertarian Republican peepaw. Sensual use of colostomy bag leads to FCC fine.

  162. Susan Hogarth Says:

    I think some people might be surprised as to exactly how libertarian [Barr] is right now.

    He’s waiting to spring it on us as a surprise?

    Re: Hunter Thompson: Amusing writer. For a short while. Waaaay, waaay over-rated. Besides, suicides creep me out.

  163. Stephen Gordon Says:

    It looks like my buddy Tom has taken three strikes with his baseball analogy thead.

    However, the overall impression I’ve had of LP staff activity over the last few years is that there’s a second side to these activities—a Rolodex-building, access-seeking side that tends to shape the thinking of those who indulge in it and that can be very harmful if it muscles out the competitive side.

    While I agree with Knapp that Rolodexing can’t be a main focus, it is a very, very important tool. And one most LPers should become more familiar with. It works in business, it works in personal relationships, it works in politics. Why do you think Facebook is so popular?

    CPAC is not a place full of potential libertarian activists If you’re attending CPAC, you are almost certainly a committed conservative Republican activist.

    I think Mr. Knapp should have visited a recent CPAC before making such a pronoucement. I can easily name a lot of pretty hardcore antiwar libertarians who were at the last CPAC. Most of these people work for policy organizations and many vote LP. To be sure, the libertarians are very outnumbered, but quite a few of them are there—and I’m friends with a lot of them. BTW, the YAF types were among the least libertarian this last CPAC. I, quite to my surprise, found some antiwar Romney supporters though.

    People who are satisfied with their party aren’t going to leave it for an “advertised as a slightly better version of the same thing” party, at least not in considerable numbers, when they’re already with the leading brand.

    Tom, in case you hadn’t noticed recently, a lot of Republicans are no longer satisified with their party. I haven’t noted as much dissatisfaction with the Democrats (unless Hillary becomes the nominee).

  164. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Let’s pick a new analogy:

    Guy 1: Wow, you really have a beautiful smile! It’s cool that we are both from New York, too. Wanna go get a cup of coffee?

    Guy 2: Your breasts are too small and I don’t like the way you dress. You are from Brooklyn and I’m from Manhattan. Wanna go get a cup of coffee?

    Which of the two guys will be at home alone later in the evening, masturbating to copies of LP News?

  165. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Let’s run with that analogy, Stephen. You have to decide whether you’re looking for a quick lay or someone who will help you form a functional and excellent family. If it’s the latter, naturally it will take more time to develop a relationship than just hopping into bed with everyone who’s ‘from New York’. How unhygienic ;-)

    But I reject the details of the analogy because in both instances above you are talking about merely cosmetic details. I don’t think anyone within the LP particularly holds what neighborhood Barr came from against him (to develop your analogy). But some of us aren’t convinced he’s willing to consider leaving that neighborhood to move uptown with us. The fact that he still
    sends money back to his ex-lover
    might display admirable loyalty to old friends (though, too bad for you, his friends want to rob you) ... or it might be an indication that he’s just out looking for a couple of quickies until his ex will have him back.

    OK, this analogy is getting weird.

  166. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Yes—the analogy is getting weird, but you do have a nice smile, Susan. :)

    Seriously, the nice smile line works better if you want to get laid tonight or get married, have 2.3 children and live happily ever after.

  167. Jake Porter Says:

    Guy 1: Wow, you really have a beautiful smile! It’s cool that we are both from New York, too. Wanna go get a cup of coffee?

    Stephen,

    That analogy is manly. I respect that.

  168. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Susan,

    You write:

    “Re: Hunter Thompson: Amusing writer. For a short while. Waaaay, waaay over-rated.”

    You’re blaspheming again. I don’t have to work with a blasphemer.

    [name that movie]

  169. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Dammit, Tom. I thought we might be able to keep disagreeing with each other through an entire thread. Now I’m forced to take your side on the Hunter S. debate.

  170. Susan Hogarth Says:

    HST would have been a professional curmudgeon if he had lived long enough. Suddenly his suicide makes more and more sense.

  171. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Steve,

    I doubt you’re forced to defend Thompson as I am. So far as I know, you’re a mere fan, while I am a fellow theological and academic alumnus of Thompson’s and thus twice fraternally bound to defend his reputation as the literary heir of Tom Paine and Mark Twain.

    Best regards,
    The Reverend Thomas L. Knapp, Litt.D.

  172. Brian Holtz Says:

    Tom wrote: “Every time we pander to the GOP without anything like a balance, for every recruit we get I bet we permanently turn off two or three potentially interested Democrats.” It’s conveniently easy to bet nobody can prove that particular negative. If anybody here cares about actual data on such questions, I collect it at http://libertarianmajority.net/libertarian-polling

    Here’s a taste: 13% of Americans polled agree

    * the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses,
    * the government should not favor any particular set of values, and
    * the federal government today has too much power.

    Of these people, 50% call themselves “conservative”, 31% call themselves “moderate”, 10% call themselves “liberal” or “progressive”, and 9% call themselves “libertarian”.

    Despite this, I still favor a left-right balance in our rhetoric, to make sure we stay in the correct quadrant of Nolan space. But it’s simply fantasy to think that the flow into our quadrant is anywhere near balanced. I suspect that’s because it’s harder to teach economics to a leftist than to teach tolerance to a rightist. And it’s definitely easier to find rightists willing to let go of their fear of those who are different, than to find leftists willing to let go of their envy and resentment toward the rich and their paternalism toward the poor.

  173. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Dr. Knapp,

    While your credentials may be impeccable, we were kissin’ cuzzins:

    “Maybe there is no Heaven. Or maybe this is all pure gibberish—a product of the demented imagination of a lazy drunken hillbilly with a heart full of hate who has found a way to live out where the real winds blow—to sleep late, have fun, get wild, drink whisky, and drive fast on empty streets with nothing in mind except falling in love and not getting arrested . . . Res ipsa loquitur. Let the good times roll.”

  174. Laura Jones Says:

    I’m a Ron Paul supporter who stumbled onto this blog out of frustration because it appears Ron Paul will not run 3rd party. I think that the republican party is on the verge of dying and that the libertarian party should take advantage of the situation by nominating someone that I’ve heard of before, such as Bob Barr. I come from a republican party background. I have supported Pat Buchanan in the past. I voted for Bush in 2000. In 2004 I voted constitution party. Now that I understand libertarianism more, because of Ron Paul, I am open to voting libertarian party. I will vote and support the LP if you nominate Bob Barr or someone like him. I will do neither if you nominate Steve Kubby or Wayne Root or Christine Smith. There are many other RP supporters out there just like me.

    BTW, there are many Mitt Romney supporters who are extremely upset with the GOP for pushing McCain. They have made it known that they desperately want RP to run 3rd party. I’m sure that they would back Bob Barr on an LP ticket.

    You have to play the cards you’re dealt. Right now, the republican party has dissed the conservative/libertarian wing of the party. We are looking for another option. Please be that option.

  175. IG Says:

    I’m not to fond of John McCain’s views on legalizing gay marriages across the country. If you want to be gay, go to Canada.

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