Saturday, December 16, 2006


...And then they will be cheaper, and there will be more of them:
A former Georgia congressman who helped spark President Clinton's impeachment has quit the Republican Party to become a Libertarian, saying he is disillusioned with the GOP on issues such as spending and privacy.

Bob Barr, who served eight years as a Republican congressman before losing his seat in 2002, announced Friday that he is now a "proud, card-carrying Libertarian."
This is good news for Democrats, since any candidates recruited by this ex-elephant are likely only to take votes away from the Republicans. It should not come as a surprise to anyone who has watched the fizzling out of the spark of that third party over the last three decades. Barr serves only as one more symbolic dot in the terminal ellipsis of their gravestone.

That failed political vehicle for spreading ideas began in 1971 as a clever idea of an ad man, but at least it did take ideas seriously. Their first Presidential candidate was a Professor of Philosophy, who wrote a thick book about their vision. They even had the hubris to call themselves "the party of principle". As ever, the gods chose to punish such upstarts for stretching beyond their grasp.

Next time out, for 1976, they faced a choice between a woman who quoted Ayn Rand against compromise, and a man who quoted "The Wizard of Oz" to show how folksy freedom was. They went with the non-intellectual, cracker barrel candidate. Despite an injection of money from the rightist Koch family that let them get a million votes in 1980, their soul had already been sold, and it was all downhill from there.

For 1988 they committed moral suicide, nominating for President an anti-abortion Republican Congressman from Texas. (He's still there, being reelected again this year, still as a Republican.) This tossing of women's rights to the wolves failed to generate the outpouring of support hoped for from anti-Bush righties, who may have been crazed but were not stupid.

A few years later they committed financial suicide, with two successive Presidential "campaigns" which were in practice exercises in looting their contributor base to enrich a clique of clever consultants.

Finally they went for total intellectual suicide just recently, blowing out the last remaining relic of their own brains by eliminating the specifics from their platform, so that no one would be offended by controversial stands like abolishing drug laws. Without any principles left, they remained nothing but an empty shell for easy ballot access, ready to be taken over by any politician rejected by his own party and hungry for a personal vendetta. Enter Bob Barr.

What I like about politics is that over time, karma really does come back to bite the deserving on their own backsides. How sharper than a serpent's tooth, to attract a dislocated Barr.

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