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Monday, June 30, 2008

The New Bob Barr: Libertarian Super-fraud

posted by on June 30 at 13:45 PM

What happened to Bob Barr?

It almost seems impossible to square this man with the one who is best remembered in his heyday—face flushed, mustache quivering, banging wildly at the table demanding seemingly nothing less than the public castration of Bill Clinton during his 1998 impeachment hearings. Representative Barr was a mean, remorseless piece of reactionary conservative machinery: if there was a piece of legislation that could be used to stomp on gay rights or put someone in jail for just a few years longer, Barr could be depended on to make the case with withering levels of moral indignation.

So who is this man who seems to be delighting in the fact—in the liberal womb of The New York Times, no less—that he could conceivably tear off vitally important chunks of John McCain’s constituency in states like Georgia and Alaska, throwing huge portions of the country to Barack Obama?


The New Bob Barr was born in 2003, when his previously safe congressional district in the Atlanta suburbs was redrawn and mashed into a neighboring congressional district of an equally popular Republican congressman. Forced to run against one another, Barr was trounced. Cut adrift from his party, an odd transformation began: Barr became a prominent critic of the Patriot Act (which he had voted for), and began polishing his credentials among civil liberties advocates, working occasionally as a lobbyist for the ACLU.

Cut to the present: The New Bob Barr, having only announced his intention to run for the nomination ten days before the convention, overcomes perennial Libertarian ‘It Girl’ Mary Ruwart and seizes the reigns of the Libertarian Party’s run for the presidency in 2008.

Taking the stage at the convention, Barr is now standing in direct opposition to almost the entirety of his career in Congress. He helped write the Defense of Marriage Act, and then was forced to apologize for it. He voted for the War in Iraq, and has since apologized for that as well. His stance on the prohibition of medical marijuana has changed so much that he’s actually campaigning against policy that bears his own name—the Barr Amendment, which effectively blocked the legalization of medical marijuana in the District of Columbia.

At this point, Barr has so thoroughly contorted himself to fit the demands of his new constituency that only brief glimmers of the old Barr can even be seen. Even his glasses have been updated, changed from the old wire frames of his culture warrior days to a hipper, post-partisan black rimmed look. You can almost picture him on his Blackberry, trying to get Andrew Sullivan to return his messages.

So where does The New Bob Barr go from here? While embracing the enthusiasm of the Ron Paul campaign, Barr doesn’t seem to be making many converts. His campaign is running on a meager $300,000, and he hasn’t won the backing of Paul himself. (Paul’s campaign staff appears to be unenthusiastic about Barr’s attempts to muscle in on their turf.)

If Barr is looking for a seat at the table when it comes to the national dialog, it seems to be on the terms that have very Nader-esque qualities. And Barack Obama’s campaign couldn’t be happier:

The Obama campaign has played up the Barr campaign’s potential impact, citing it as a potential plus during a briefing with reporters on Wednesday.

“If Barr were to get 2 percent in most states, our belief is he’ll get 4 percent here,” said David Plouffe, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager, speaking of Georgia. “Most of it coming out of McCain’s hide.”

RSS icon Comments


andrew ryan?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | June 30, 2008 1:54 PM

Barr might be able to peel off some Republicans disgruntled at McCain's sudden abandonment of his "maverick" status. But the real disgruntled constituency is the bat-shit crazy, fundamentalist fringe. I'd love to see a third party candidate decisively pull their votes from McCain.

Posted by keshmeshi | June 30, 2008 2:10 PM

Every GOP voter who loves America and hates the neocon spend-spend-spend borrow-borrow-borrow policy and the Three Wars We Can't Afford should consider either voting Dem or, if they can't bring themselves to do it, vote for Barr.

Your nation needs you.

Step up to the plate.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 30, 2008 2:10 PM

give this man lots and lots of money.

Posted by um | June 30, 2008 2:12 PM

...what comes around goes around...the crazies that will vote for this crank are the reverse image of the Naderites, who were and are equally contemptible.

Posted by Westside forever | June 30, 2008 2:18 PM

His middle name is Mussolini. True!

Posted by Gurldoggie | June 30, 2008 2:39 PM

Whatever he says or does, he's still a contemptible human being. I detest him and his ignorant, hate monger, fundamentalist supporters. It would serve them right to have this thug ruin their chance to keep the White House.

Posted by Vince | June 30, 2008 2:57 PM

the entire time i read that article, i kept thinking:


i'm thinking it right now.

Posted by max solomon | June 30, 2008 3:01 PM

Best argument yet for other people to send this hacks' campaign committee some money. I don't think I will. Better to try to drum up support for Mr. Barr to be included in debates.

Posted by LMSW | June 30, 2008 4:49 PM

"Running on a meager $300,000..."

Really? What's that again? "Meager"?

The Libertarian Party's 2004 Presidential candidate Michael Badnarik raised a total of $400,000 during his entire race. And Barr is already at $300,000. And you call that "meager."

Your ignorance of the Libertarian Party is astounding.

Posted by Eric Dondero | June 30, 2008 6:59 PM

I've been saying for a while now that I think Obama has a better chance at winning Georgia than most people realize. I REALLY hope I'm right, and not just so I can brag.

Posted by Georgia Guy | June 30, 2008 7:09 PM

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