Friday, April 11, 2008

Those who try to rewrite history ...

... are doomed to be confronted with it on this blog.

Ever since Wayne Allyn Root began to emerge as a possible candidate for the Libertarian Party's 2008 presidential nomination, one of the big questions on my mind (and out of my mouth) has been "how can Root credibly undo his glowing endorsement of Republican John McCain for the office he's now seeking himself?"

Over time, it's become clear that Root's strategy for undoing that endorsement is a simple, but dangerous, one: Deny that he ever made such an endorsement.

Take, for example, the question/answer at about 7 minutes, 25 seconds into this video of a recent Root appearance in Chicago:

Root's interlocutor, btw, is none other than a rather tipsy Jeff Wartman, who deserves (and has) my everlasting gratitude for getting Root on the record.

So, which is it: Is Root just an oddsmaker who predicted the ascendancy of a candidate he doesn't support, or did he in fact endorse McCain?

Back in December of 2006, you'd have found the answer to that question here. These days, that link redirects to the front page of Root's retrofitted site, which used to be the publicity/promotion home for his 2005 book Millionaire Republican.

All, however, is not lost --'s "Wayback Machine" preserves the first bit of that article in a snapshot of the aforementioned front page, taken on 12/06/06:


As the author of the #1 Amazon Best-Seller "Millionaire Republican," I have a vested interest in seeing my beloved GOP back in power. To that end, you can't blame this loyal Republican and former Malibu, California resident for doing some California Dreamin'. And what a dream it is! I've come up with a simple and easy 2-step plan that would instantly return the United States Senate to GOP control (today- without an election), energize the GOP base, and put a Republican in strong position to reclaim the White House in 2008 (giving us a great opportunity to control the Presidency for 20 consecutive years). My plan? It all revolves around a conservative Democrat named Joseph Lieberman!

Unfortunately, the Wayback Machine doesn't archive the entire article. Nor is it cached at Google. And while I had it personally archived at one time, that was a computer or two ago and I'm not sure I could find it even if I felt like pulling a bunch of old hard drives and digging through them.

What I do have to add to the record on this is a collection of quotes from deeper inside the article, which I posted to a Yahoo Group on 12/30/06 -- before Root formally announced as an LP candidate, and before this became a question which probably makes Root a little uncomfortable.

For your reading pleasure:

[T]his Millionaire Republican is suggesting that GOP leaders offer the Senate Majority Leader position to Senator Joe Lieberman in order to convince him to cross the aisle.

Senate Majority Leader Lieberman would be in a position to aid the Jewish state of Israel -- something so important to him (and many Americans -- including me). But I'm not done yet -- here's the coup de grace: the GOP offers Lieberman one more carrot that is impossible to turn down -- a place on the GOP Presidential ticket! That's right -- I'm suggesting an unbeatable GOP ticket of McCain- Lieberman in 2008 ...

My scenario gives the Republican Party a virtual lock on power for 20 consecutive years ...

Does all that sound like cold-blooded handicapping? Or does it sound like an endorsement? Is a campaign contribution to a political pick -- like Root's $1000 contribution to Joe Lieberman's 2006 US Senate campaign -- just a bet, or is it an endorsement?

Moving back a little further in time (but not much -- this is still late 2006), we find this in another Root article which has also since been memory-holed.

America wants a moderate Republican in the White House -- McCain is the ideal choice. He is strong on defense with a military background, yet gets along with Democrats and often crosses party lines. McCain campaigned for over 100 GOP candidates across the country -- and now will collect on that goodwill as the GOP picks up the pieces and looks for a mainstream, electable candidate in 2008. McCain is that man.

Take a walk with me now into a hypothetical future ... make that a highly hypothetical future ... in which Wayne Allyn Root has not only secured the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination, but wrestled his way to 15% in the polls and received his golden ticket to the televised candidate debates.

Now, try to imagine an even more hypothetical future in which those quotes would not be publicly read by the moderator to a sputtering Wayne Allyn Root and a smiling John McCain.

Don't feel bad. I couldn't imagine it either.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Barr Barr Jinx?

While I have supported -- and continue to support -- a party stalwart for the Libertarian Party's 2008 presidential nomination -- I have to admit that I was excited at the prospect of Bob Barr entering the race.

Here was a guy with some juice -- beltway credentials, experience at actually winning elections, media access, the kind of fundraising chops to build a campaign with real potential to break out into millions-of-votes territory.

What made Barr even more attractive was the prospect of a "road to Damascus" story -- "how I gave up drug warriorism, gay-bashing, religious demagogism, Big Brotherism and military adventurism and learned to love liberty."

So, after months of rumors and backroom scheming, what's the sitch on our new shooter coming out? Well ... fizzle is the most gentle term I can come up with on short notice.

Not a campaign, but an "exploratory committee."

Not a "road to Damascus" story, but hands-down the mushiest bowl of "offend no one" pablum I've ever seen from any candidate of any party. Barr doesn't seem to stand for anything except, oddly enough, the big-government "Fair Tax" scheme.

There were always risks with a Barr candidacy -- the worst, to my mind, being that it would reinforce the false image of the Libertarian Party as the Republican Party's disgruntled conservative overflow area -- but I expected those risks to be somewhat balanced out by the benefits.

The response seems to match the offering -- more fizzle. Three days after his kinda-sort-maybe "announcement," Barr's fundraising meter stands at less than 1/10th of its initial $250,000 goal.

Iffen da EllPee treaten alla dem 'Pugnicans witda respects yusa showen Ja Ja, meetinks, yep, dat meyby okeyday ta tink?

I'm good with outreach to conservatives. I'm downright enthusiastic about showcasing prominent "converts." But gutless doesn't get it.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Instead of a review: Chicago 10

One of my lefty friends dragged me out of the house tonight to catch Chicago 10 at the Tivoli.

Part of the movie is footage of the Chicago police riot and the events leading up to it, part of it is animated re-enactment of the trial of Hoffman, Seale, Rubin, Dellinger, Hayden, Davis, Froines and Weiner.

This is not the kind of film one "enjoys," but it is the kind of film I wish more people would watch and learn from. I wasn't quite two in August of 1968, but the autobiographies of Abbie Hoffman and Bobby Seale were two of the first "political" books that captured me, when I was 13 or so.

Some thoughts on the presidential race

Back in late 2006, I signed on with Steve Kubby's campaign for the Libertarian Party's 2008 presidential nomination. I did so because he was obviously the best candidate in the race at the time. In my opinion, he remains the best candidate in the race. He no longer bests every one of his opponents by every measure, but he bests all of them by most measures and each of them by some measures.

And, until Dr. Mary Ruwart entered the race, I was pretty sure that he would pull off the nomination. While Wayne Allyn Root was slightly ahead in internal LP polling, Root was also at the top of his "positives" ... he had (and has) nowhere to go but down.

It was just barely possible that Root would come in first on the first ballot at the LP's national convention, but with nowhere near the required majority and no chance of pulling in the votes of his opponents as they fell one by one. Those other votes were eventually going to land on Kubby.

When Dr. Ruwart entered the race, she immediately replaced Kubby as the likely nominee. Higher positives, lower negatives, and years of internal party speaking -- she's familiar and likeable to the delegates and her ideological credentials are, like Kubby's, sterling.

No sour grapes here -- I greatly admire Dr. Ruwart and would happily support her as the LP's nominee -- but when she threw her hat in the ring, Kubby's chances immediately went from good to grim.

Then things started getting really weird. Democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel jumped the fence to the LP one day (with only a few rumors beforehand), and entered its presidential contest the day after that.

Despite his "star power," the former two-term US Senator is by no means a lock for the LP's nomination. He's got some definite differences with the party line. However, he is likeable, he's emphasizing his agreements with the LP line on foreign policy, and he's certainly going to be a factor (a welcome factor from this left-leaning libertarian's perspective, btw).

And still out in the tall grass, we have former Republican Congressman, now Libertarian National Committee member Bob Barr. There's been an ongoing "draft" effort, part real and part contrived, to get him into the race.

I happen to like the Congressman on the basis of what I've seen (including meeting him and hearing him speak twice). However, I'm hoping he sits 2008 out, for his own good and for the party's. Barr has huge potential, and not enough time to deploy that potential to full effect if he announces this late. 2012 is his year -- a 2008 run would sacrifice his interests as a candidate, and the party's interests in real, solid growth as a political power, to the desire for short-term gratification (and possibly 2008 campaign paychecks for some of those pushing him to declare).

I anticipate being able to cheerfully support whomever the Libertarian Party nominates, of course ... and I'm pretty sure it won't be the candidate I support for the nomination (and whom I will continue to support for as long as he remains in the race).

So, what does the future have in store for Steve Kubby? As of now, Kubby remains a presidential candidate. He's continuing to produce issues videos, trying to raise money to meet more Libertarians at their state conventions, and hoping to "break out" at the national convention itself (as Michael Badnarik did in 2004). This is exactly what he should be doing.

There are, however, other possibilities.

I've previously endorsed -- and still support -- Chris Bennett for the LP's vice-presidential nomination, but as things continue to devolve toward a circus, I suspect that both the presidential nominee and the party will start agitating for someone with a higher profile (Chris is only 6'9").

If that happens, we could do far, far worse than Steve Kubby. He's got the ideological credentials. He's got a track record of fighting successfully for freedom. He's got good name recognition in California and among a key national constituency (drug policy reform advocates). If the party wanted him to, he could effectively run a "second campaign" in California and the Pacific northwest -- giving the LP a constant presence in that region and freeing the presidential nominee to spend more time in other parts of the country. In the process, he'd be bootstrapping his own prospective 2010 gubernatorial campaign, and with it the California LP's chances of doing well in both 2008 and 2010.

Because I've grown to place a high premium on loyalty, I expect to vote as a delegate for Kubby for the presidential nomination, and Bennett for the vice-presidential nomination, until and unless either or both of them are eliminated. Because I place a high premium on realism, I expect both of them to be eliminated. I'm not pessimistic about the final results, though. I believe that the LP can have a very good year, and that with candidates like Steve and Chris stepping forward to hold the banner high, that it will have a very good year.