Tuesday, May 27, 2008

National convention notes, part 2


I rode to Denver in a van full of, as feral Confederate chihuahua Robert Stacy McCain put it, "smelly Libertarians." A good time was had by all, including pasting Phillies 2008 stickers all over Yours Truly's back while I slept, such that I unintentionally served as a walking billboard for George all across Kansas and eastern Colorado. Amazingly, we had few political arguments on the way there. Tiredness resulted in a few frayed tempers on the way back.

It's hard to describe just how hectic the convention was. On Sunday evening, Mary Ruwart took her staff out for a casual "thanks for making a fight of it" dinner at Chipotle. While ordering, it occurred to me that the only things I'd ingested since breakfast on Saturday morning were a few hospitality suite finger-food offerings and a lot of bourbon, cola and Starbucks iced white chocolate mocha latte.

Things were really getting weird by Saturday afternoon. For some reason I can't even recall, Senator Mike Gravel and I ended up snarling at each other over, of all things, the Terri Schiavo case during a "how do we stop Bob Barr" strategy meeting including several candidates and campaigns.

This was just after a meeting of all the campaigns to discuss the debate format, which we re-wrote ( the convention committee graciously adopted that re-write). Oddly enough, I found myself allied with Barr manager Russ Verney in that meeting: One of the things we incorporated in the format was a provision for 30 seconds of rebuttal by any candidate whom the moderator agreed had just been personally attacked by one of the others.

That provision was never invoked ... partially, in my opinion, because it existed. I know that when I took the format to Steve Kubby, my advice was "if you attack anyone, make it one candidate, one time, and make it count. Don't go around giving your opponents 30-second hunks of time they wouldn't otherwise get." Kubby did indeed mildly rebuke Barr on the Patriot Act, but Barr didn't exercise the rebuttal option. The debate was, by format and rules, actually a forum, and a relatively collegial one. The candidates spent their time selling their own visions instead of attacking each other.

Sorry to hop around so much in these "notes" articles, but frankly I still haven't had the time to fully digest what happened in Denver. One more incident for this installment:

Steve Kubby is my hero, and his stature in my eyes doubled yet again after the VP nomination contest ended. What looked like a hundred or so delegates appeared to be on the verge of a walkout, and some of them were asking Kubby to denounce the ticket from the convention stage. Kubby could have grandstanded his way out of the convention with a number of fans in tow. Instead of doing that, he gave an impassioned speech to the despondent delegates, begging them to stay and fight for their vision of the party. When he asked those who would do so to raise their hands, the response looked about 95% positive. I heard more than one person tell Kubby that they considered this the convention's finest moment, and I agree.

I've already taken a few hits -- including from long-time friends an allies -- for my own appeal for party loyalty. To those who are disappointed or angry with me, I have only this to say:

Yes, "my party right or wrong" has limits. If Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root don't run a convincingly pro-freedom campaign, that's on them and I'll act accordingly. However, my implicit agreement with the other delegates was that I'd support our caucus-expressed judgment as to which candidates WOULD most likely run such a campaign, and now that that judgment has been rendered, I'll support it until and unless I am presented with convincing evidence amassed after the fact that it was in fact a defective judgment.

Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root both have clean slates as far as I'm concerned. Their past records were taken into account in the nomination process. That process having ended, the former things are passed away and what counts is what they do from here on out. I hope that they do the right things and I'll support them to the full extent of my ability as long as that hope is proven justified. That's what I -- and everyone else who had a voice and a vote on the convention floor -- owe to them, and to our party.

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