First, I want to offer my apologies to Elfninosmom for not being able to provide more coverage while in Denver.
I left off Thursday night after the Libertarians for Justice event. The next morning, a strange thing happened: I got put to work.
I manned the Mary Ruwart booth for much of the day. This is when I first got to really meet Mary, and she shocked me by asking me to giver her a nominating speech. I was afraid to say yes, but I couldn’t say no. I would be horribly nervous and dreading the idea of it for the next 48 hours.
I had lunch with Tom Knapp. He bought. He told me about an apparent attack on George Phillies the night before — I mean a real attack — by an armed gunman. I never found out anything more about this, and inexplicably, I forgot to ask George when I saw him.
A little later, Andy and I ran into the WWE wrestler, Kane. Andy talked him up. He was very knowledgeable about wrestling, and Kane was impressed. Andy asked Kane which candidate he supported, and Kane pointed his thumb at the Ruwart booth. “You support Mary Ruwart?” Andy asked for clarification. Kane shook his head affirmatively. I later told this to Lee Wrights and we made several efforts to build a bridge with Kane without being too pushy. The day of the voting, Kane gave me a big thumbs up after my speech and I noticed he was wearing a Mary Ruwart button.
But back to Friday: This was the night of the big “unofficial, all-inclusive” debate. I have to say I would have much preferred a “mostly inclusive” format, rather than all-inclusive. Candidates without even two supporters don’t need to be heard. This includes both the crazy (Imperato and Alden Link), as well as the sane and principled candidates with no support whatsoever (Jim Burns).
If there were any doubts (and I don’t think there were), Imperato firmly established himself as batshit crazy during the debate. Wow. Paulie was sitting next to me and cracking jokes all night long. The whole audience snickered and outright laughed every time Imperato would go into long multi-lingual rants — “Must be he bought Dondero’s book,” Paulie said — or bragged of his connections (knows George W. Bush very well, partner with bin-Laden, has adopted nephews and nieces in Abu Dabai who call him “Uncle Dammy”). Imperato would also redirect every financial, fiscal, or monetary issue to his theory of Jacob and Esau, whereby Arabs were now jealous of the Jewish money mastery.
Alden Link: What a waste of time. Totally not libertarian in the least. Energy socialist. Monetary moron. Literally supported the “military industrial complex” in both name and spirit. Bigoted against Muslims. For the war on terror. Paulie said, “New rumor: Alden Link is Eric Dondero’s grandfather.”
Jon Finan was the only candidate (other than Barr) not in attendance. I did see him on Sunday on the convention floor. I don’t know why he didn’t show at this debate, but I’m glad he didn’t.
You can read more about the debate at the following links:
- W.A.R. calls for “marquis” and reprisal
- Gravel refutes W.A.R., impresses libertarian audience
- Steve Kubby surprising delegates
- George Phillies receives mixed response from debate crowd
- Jim Burns seeks VP nomination
- Bob Barr skips debate
Immediately after the debate, an older gentleman started a conversation with me about Mary Ruwart. I asked if he supported her. He said, “Yes, but I’m from Massachussiets, so George is going to be upset if he finds out I support Mary–Oh, George, nice to see you!” Phillies had been standing behind me and the guy hadn’t noticed him. Whoops.
I stuck out my hand to have Phillies shake it. I introduced myself. “Oh, you‘re G.E.,” he said. “You forgot to tell people that I eat hard-boiled babies.” I apologized for some of the over-the-top things I had said about him online, and he graciously accepted. I hope I have learned my lesson: Online opponents are real human beings.
Afterwards, I took U.S. Senate candidate from Michigan, Scotty Boman, out to dinner at a local bar with loud music. I screamed my order, “hamburger!” but was brought an amber lager instead. That worked.
At the previous night’s dinner with Scotty Boman, I was shocked to learn that he didn’t know about Bob Barr’s leadership PAC. I decided this information had to get out there, so a new conspiracy was born. Mary Ruwart’s sisters had flown in to manage the booth, allowing me some free time. I needed it to work on my speech, but I planned to do some covert ops, too. I recruited Andy and a Gravel supporter with whom I had become friendly to do the wet work. Elfninomom’s research would be printed out and circulated on the convention floor.
First problem: No access to a printer. I stopped by the radical booth and tried to enlist the support of Susan Hogarth (and her printer), but she was very busy and a bit perturbed. She had an LNC election to campaign for and was under much stress. Paulie Cannoli said I should ask . . . one of the presidential candidates if I could use his/her printer. Luckily, I had recently mended fences with this particular individual, and he/she said yes. The person in charge of his/her printer was currently on the LNC floor, but a covert rendezvous was arranged and he/she gave me 200 copies of the anti-Barr dossier.
Next, I had to get them to Andy and my Gravel friend. I carried them in a satchel and inconspicuously made the drop. I had planned to write a blog title called “How Elfninosmom, G.E., Andy, Gravel supporter, [name redacted], and [name redacted] saved the Libertarian Party” if Mary or Steve or someone good had won. But alas. . .
The debate: You undoubtedly saw it on TV, so there’s no need for me to recap it here. I will say that people within the Ruwart campaign were not thrilled with our candidate’s performance. It sucks because Mary is unbelievable in intimate settings. In fact, she gave a speech earlier that day that brought one woman to tears. Our booth was flooded by people exchanging the buttons of other candidates for Mary’s. And one guy gave us a $2,300 contribution that he wanted processed right away so that he could make another one post-nomination. That’s the impact Mary can have when she’s not sharing the stage with boisterous alpha males. And guess what: Along the campaign trail, people don’t debate over and over again — they talk to small groups. Mary would have been the best candidate the party has ever seen.
Saturday night: Wanted to go out drinking but I had the speech to think about. I went up to my room early and practiced the hell out of it. I chopped it down until it was barely over a minute long (I was given two minutes). No way I’ll be pressed for time. . . Or so I thought.
I had to wake up at 7:00 a.m. The campaign staff were meeting at the booth at 8:00. Then at 9:00, I had a meeting with the Michigan delegation — thankfully, this got me out of hauling signs from Mary’s hotel room to the convention floor. (Sorry, Steve LaBianca!).
The meeting with my delegation was to discuss how we would vote. Leonard Schwartz, a fairly conservative libertarian, began, and I expected him to support Barr. Nope. “The worst thing that could happen is a Democratic Congress and White House, and that’s what we’ll have if we nominate Barr,” he said. “Anybody but Barr.” Then the Gravel guy started speaking. . . and didn’t stop for a long, long, long time. Dude, get a clue and STFU. Bob Barr wanted to speak to our delegation, but no one wanted to hear from him. Of our 26 votes, 12 were for Mary on the first ballot, 13 on most subsequent ballots, and by the end, we were 16-8-1 (Mary-Barry-NOTA), with one guy disappearing. Michigan stood by Mary. It should be noted that Nevada gave Root zero votes, as Alaska did for Gravel.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. . . My speech: Thanks to everyone who said it was good. Jesus, I was nervous. I had a knot in my chest for at least 12 hours prior to the speech, and when it was over with, the knot felt like it dropped into the pit of my stomach. I thought I was going to be sick. As stated earlier, Kane gave me a big thumbs up and, more importantly, Angela Keaton did. Susan Hogarth gave me a hug.
You all know what happened on Black Sunday, so I won’t relive the gory details. I will tell you about one incident I’m not very proud of, though. When Root dropped out and backed Barr, I shouted “NEOCON!” Some dude turned around, and I don’t remember what he said to me. It might have been “Shut up” or “Shut the fuck up” or “Shut up, asshole!” but I do remember my response. “Hey, fuck you!” The guy stormed at me. He told me to get out of his face or he’d kick my ass. I told him I had free speech and he was threatening the initiation of force. He said I had initiated force by telling him to “fuck off” (which I hadn’t, but I didn’t argue the point). I told him that by threatening to initiate force, he was in fact initiating force, and that my words had made no such initiation. Soon we were bogged down in semantics to the extent that we both walked away. I’m sure non-libertarians would get a kick out of this.
When we had officially lost, we all took the stage so Mary could recognize us. I was proud that she stuck by principle. There had been overtures for her to compromise and align with one of the two camps. These men, or at least their employees, has slandered her good name. She would not back down. That’s the type of person we need as our candidate.
We shook the hands of our opponents. I congratulated Bob Barr. There were no dirty tricks by Barr and his people at the convention. (Beforehand is another story). Earlier, I finally confronted Steven Gordon when he came to wish Mary good luck. “I heard you’re angry with me,” I said. “Yes, you called me a neocon.” I told him I didn’t think I had, but I apologized either way. He accepted, and seemed to be sincere in his acceptance. Hopefully that beef is squashed. After his victory, Gordon, Barr, and the whole camp, were totally professional and did not gloat in the least. I can’t say I would have been the same way!
We hit the hotel bar. Someone offered to buy us some drinks. Thomas Hill abstained, but Mary and I each had a Diet Pepsi. We were confronted with numerous well wishers. One woman, with whom Mary was acquainted, urged her to seek the VP slot and run an independent campaign. Mary wasn’t interested at first, but the more she thought about the independent aspect, the more her interest was peeked. Ultimately, there just wasn’t enough time to consider things, and she had already given her support to Kubby’s run for VP.
As for Kubby’s run: Every Barr person I know supported him. What does that say about my sample? I appreciate those who tried to extend the olive branch.
After it was all over, the campaign took its staffers and trusted volunteers out for one final dinner. Lee Wrights, Thomas Hill, Brian Irving, myself, Steve LaBianca, and Mary’s husband, Ray. Thomas Knapp was also invited to come along, as were Mary’s sisters and her nephew. Everyone but I was dressed casually — I packed light and took only suits. The atmosphere was much different, and I downed to Dos Equis. Lee Wrights and Thomas Hill were both moved to tears at various times.
I got separated from the pack when I entered into a discussion with Skyler McKinney (great guy). Then Paulie Cannoli confronted me and say, “Are you drinking?” Of course! We hit the hotel bar for something a little stronger than Diet Pepsi. I downed 1.5 Coronas and then Angela Keaton and Michelle Shighall (can someone get me the correct spelling there, please!) came by and asked us to go somewhere else with them. Paulie went but I stayed. I had to get up early to catch my flight.
On my way back from the bathroom, I ran into Jake Porter. I gave him a hard time about supporting Barr and pretended I was mad at him, but how can you be mad at the guy? Then I saw Jeff Wartman, and I invited the two guys back into the bar so I could finish my last beer before going up to bed. As if.
Wartman, Porter, and I came up with the central piece of a unifying platform: A resolution to condemn Eric Dondero. I drank three more beers, for a total of six, before the bar closed at 11:00 p.m. I was about to go upstairs when Susan Hogarth started banging on the window from the outside, calling us out. A bunch of the radicals were going to another bar, and she wanted us to come. I was just about out of cash. She offered to buy, so of course, I couldn’t say no.
Long story short: I did a lot more drinking. Susan Hogarth complimented me and ripped me at the same time: “You did so great today with your speech . . . When I saw you get on stage, I thought ‘What is Mary thinking?'” But she made it up to me with free beer and two sisterly kisses. This complemented the (also sisterly) kiss I received from Angela Keaton earlier in the day.
By the time I got to bed, my flight would be leaving four hours later. Ouch. I’m just now recovering. Question: Will the party recover?