13 May 2008

Bob Barr tosses his tattered hat into the ring

Fresh off his humiliating, unwitting cameo in "Borat," the former Georgia congressman-turned-apparent-Ron-Paul-disciple has announced that he will launch a bid for the presidency under the Libertarian Party banner. Barr's announcement does nothing more than negate the effect that Ralph Nader's likely run will have on the election, although his shortsighted, self-absorbed decision should serve to sufficiently shatter his credibility among the conservative base. Hope it's worth it, Congressman.

I had the opportunity several years ago to sit in a conference room with Ralph Nader and a number of other local reporters and speak with him before his speech at Truman State. Though his political views are wildly extreme, almost Marxist, Nader struck me as a genuinely principled man who simply was running because he thought it the best way to carry forward his message. However, no matter what Nader or his followers may claim, he singlehandedly delivered the presidency to Bush in 2000 and helped cement Kerry's defeat in 2004. It's one thing to stand on principle; it's another thing entirely to let those principles blind someone to the realistic effect his candidacy has on the future of the country. If not for Nader, Dubya would be a mere historical footnote.

And so it is for Mr. Barr. It's nice to see a politician break with his party on principle (Joe Lieberman), but it's different when a politician's "principled" stance blinds him to what he could do to the future of the country. McCain has rightly noted that this is a landmark election in which two diametrically opposed views of government will collide. In the opinion of most conservatives, Barack Obama's brand of idelogical extremism, dressed up with nonsensical post-partisan platitudes, should be shot out of the sky. Thanks to Bob Barr, doing so has become that much more difficult.

Perhaps the good congressman didn't want to be remembered by his hilarious interview at the hands of a British comedian posing as a Kazakhstani simpleton. But now is a particularly bad time to attempt to reclaim his 15 minutes.

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