As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bob Barr

I suppose I should say something about Bob Barr's run for the White House. It's quixotic, of course, but it's nice to see such windmill-tilting designed to attract Republicans than Democrats. I don't share a whole lot in common on fiscal issues with a libertarian like Barr, but I do believe he's been on the right side of a number of civil liberties issues over the last few years and could capture some of that Ron Paul magic, which is a non-trivial amount of Republican votes, as Josh Marshall has said. In races out West like New Mexico and Montana and Alaska and Colorado, where his brand of libertarianism will play, that number of votes could actually be determinative.

Dana Milbank wrote a story on Barr's National Press Club kickoff event yesterday, and clearly there's enough difference with John McSame's policies for Barr to make a spirited effort in this race.

"What's your problem with McCain?" one of the reporters asked after Barr's announcement speech.

Barr turned to his campaign manager, former Ross Perot adviser Russ Verney. "How long do we have here, Russ?"

Time enough, evidently.

Barr took issue with McCain's Iran policy. "I'm not going to go around making up songs about such a serious matter as going to war with a sovereign nation, as Senator McCain did," the former congressman said, tut-tutting McCain's "Barbara Ann/Bomb Iran" episode.

He quarreled with McCain's Iraq policy. "These troops need to be brought home," he offered.

He ridiculed the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, which, he said, means McCain "cannot ever lay legitimate claim, at least with a straight face, to . . . being labeled as a conservative."

He put down McCain's plan to do away with pet-project earmarks, claiming it "would make barely a drop in the bucket with regard to the national debt, the deficit."

And he disparaged McCain's fiscal policy, saying "there are some legitimate questions that have been raised over whether Senator McCain is simply a Johnny-come-lately to the modest tax cuts."

I don't agree with Barr on all of that, but I agree on far more than I might expect (particularly the earmark thing, why can't more politicians say that? It's supposedly in their interest to hang on to earmarks, after all). And that strain of conservatism that agrees with all of this is more robust that anyone might expect. These Ron Paul acolytes are still fighting to take over the GOP convention - it's like 1968 only nobody is paying any attention to it. These people are looking to embarrass Senator McCain on the national stage and impact the party platform - they're not going to run back to him in November. One choice word from Paul and they'd all get on the Bob Barr train. This bears watching.

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