In my last post about the upcoming US elections, I noted Alexander Cockburn’s complimentary comment about the platform of Libertarian Party candidate for President, Bob Barr. So fascinated was I by this weird political figure that I thought I’d do some more reading about him, and I’ve got to admit that his sheer comedic value had previously passed me by.
There’s a useful run-down on Barr’s record on the Economist website, where the Bobster is deconstructed in their Lexington column from May 29th this year. Amongst his great achievements in defence of liberty, aside from voting to impeach Bill Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal (so much for the idea that personal morality should not be enforced by governments), voting for the ultra-authoritarian Patriot Act, throwing himself into the ludicrous and self-defeating “war on drugs” and supporting the Defense of Marriage Act (freedom’s mighty advocate can’t have gays tying the knot after all), was this:
His moralistic fervour faltered only when it came to his own conduct: twice divorced, he was once photographed licking whipped cream off the breasts of a particularly buxom woman. He says he was raising money for leukaemia research. (Well, he would, wouldn’t he?)
Well, they do say the USA is a nation of givers. I’m not sure whether this puts Barr on, as the Economist puts it, the “Ruby Ridge” or “Reefer Madness” wings of the wonderfully wacky Libertarian Party, but it certainly adds a little colour to the sour paleo-conservative’s record.
Of course, he’s recanted his past now, and appears to believe that “anything goes” is the right approach to social and economic policy alike. And he has his backers, like the writer at the unofficial “bobbarr.com” site, who believes his Bobness is the only man left who can stop Barack Obama from nationalising McDonalds and declaring rule by Soviets in the USA. Truly, in America it is possible for hope to triumph over reason.
Even prominent self-described “Libertarians” – a political label chosen by, at best, 10% of the US population – interviewed by Reason magazine, split between McCain, Barr and, surprisingly, Obama, whom many were inclined to support simply to give the GOP a kicking. All in all, things do not look good for our diminutive Georgian Don Quixote or for Wayne Allyn Root, his VP candidate and Z-list “celebrity” bookie. Yet they’ll keep trucking on, as will their clown-suited fringe political party. And somehow I just can’t help but smile at that fact: after all, US politics just wouldn’t be the same without them.