June 3, 2023


UnaBobberThe way he’s been conducting his campaign to date, it doesn’t appear that John McCain is going to need any help fatally sabotaging his campaign this fall. Bob Barr is generously offering his services nonetheless.

This was a possibility for months as much of the right-wing treated the prospect of a McCain candidacy as much as Bud Selig and FOX would welcome a Milwaukee-Minnesota World Series.

What a simpler and more arrogant time it was when it seemed like the inheritance of the Bush White House was the GOP’s to lose, and the only question was which of their pontificating, capped-tooth luminaries would end up with the ring: Sam Brownback, Bill Frist, George Allen, Rick Santorum, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney, and Jeb Bush all seemed poised in the early months of 2005 as strong contenders lead us into the second decade of the 21st century on a wave of abstinence-only education, pre-emptive military strikes, and Jesus Saves trucker’s caps for the 115 new immigrants they would allow into the country every year (as long as they were from Cuba or any sufficiently Caucasian country that wasn’t France).

That was before the Congress spent four days and endless pleas to the federal courts to intervene to save Terri Schiavo, and Bill Frist deigned to prognosticate from the Senate floor on whether or not she might live to see Easter, based on a video he saw of her. It got so bad that Bo Gritz came out of his compound to insert himself in the cause, and was even arrested for trespassing when he attempted to enter her hospice to prevent staff from removing her feeding tube.

For those who don’t remember, that was the beginning of the end of Republican Party in its current and rapidly unravelling incarnation. One by one, the potential Republican standard-bearers fell by the wayside, while the once-mighty Bush-led GOP was distracted with its representatives getting caught in airport lavatories, salacious emails with male teens, and going off-message at otherwise-pleasant summer campaign events to spout arcane Tunisian racial slurs.

At the end of the day, the party was so desperate they went back to the very senior Senator from Arizona. The frothing masses on the far right were not pleased and acted as one as if someone had persuaded Bread to reunite for their daughter’s wedding reception.

It was only a matter of time before someone from the right would step up to represent the Limbaught wing of the party. That was when John McCain decided to use the intervening period between his anointment and when the knife fight between Hillary and Barack would finally be settled to audition for the part of True Believer. That required an exhaustive rejiggering of every position he’s taken over the last eight years. None of it sold well, of course, but the lack of any apparent cognitive dissonance has been impressive. His only problem was that he hadn’t learned from his former colleague, Senator George Allen, and reckoned with the reputationally-eviscerating power of YouTube.

It wasn’t a very convincing performance. Senator McCain would have fared better if he’d been Harvey Fierstein auditioning for an SS Guard role in Schindler’s List.

The murmurs started in May that there was a Ralph Nader on the Republican’s radar, and it was the unlikeliest of would-be Libertarians, former Republican Georgia Congressman and Clinton-hunter nonpareil Bob Barr.

Sure enough, during the Libertarian Convention in Denver–where the Democratic convention will also be held in August–on May 25, 2008, Bob Barr walked away with the Libertarian Party Nomination for President Of The United States, and John McCain saw a desperately-needed four percent of the Republican vote flee town like the Libertarians just hung up a “Free beer!” sign.

There are many Democrats who continuously gripe about Ralph Nader handing the race to George W. Bush in 2000. In truth, the candidate himself and, to a lesser but somewhat more disgraceful extent, the U.S. Supreme Court, were far more complicit in deraling Gore-Lieberman 2000.

American politics is replete with the perverse and the ironic, and it would be infinitely amusing if one of the most virulent Clinton-haters of them all were significantly responsible for returning a Democrat to the White House.

Bob Barr will never be President. But thanks to his campaign there’s a good chance John McCain will never be either.