Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Can Bob Barr make the LP relevant?

Nominating former Republican Rep. Bob Barr, whose conversion to libertarianism is still of recent vintage and not quite complete, was an interesting move for the Libertarian Party, and one that could have some good outcomes. But it's not easy to say how it will pan out. As I had predicted, it wasn't surefire that Barr would get the nomination; it apparently came when Wayne Allyn Root, who got the vice-presidential nod in what may have been a deal (I don't know yet), threw his support to Barr. At that, he only got a 54 percent margin. The move has been internally divisive within the LP. Even if that gets patched up, there's no guarantee Barr can exploit the nomination effectively.

Some aspects of the convention suggest that he might be able to. This was the most newsworthy LP convention I can remember, largely because "convert" Barr (and former Alaska Dem. Sen. Mike Gravel, whom I met at a conference and liked quite well; he has some libertarian instincts in my view, but is hardly consistent, though a good guy) declared for the nomination. The shot at relevance, of course, is the possibility that Barr could serve as a spoiler by running well enough in a few battleground states to throw the election one way or another, most likely (though not inevitably) against McCain.

To me, the best source of ongoing info about the convention was Dave Weigel's (of Reason) on-the-scene blogging, but other bloggers reported and the convention did get time on C-SPAN and CNN, and much more coverage (and generally less focused on libertarian oddballs, who do exist) than usual.

Of course, I'd like to think Barr's turnaound on the drug war was sealed when I presented him a copy of my book, "Waiting to Inhale: The Politics of Medical Marijuana," at an event in Los Angeles where he and Grover Norquist were prime speakers in a day-long conference critical of the Patriot Act (for which Barr had voted when he was in congress, a secular sin for which he has repented copiously). Truth to tell, however, I don't know if he even read it. Ah, well!

No comments: