Steve G.

Barr’s “Black Knight” Strategy: Never Say Die

In Libertarian Party-US on August 15, 2008 at 5:59 pm

The Barr campaign (in the person of Russ Verney) sent out an email appeal today focused on getting into the forum at Saddleback Church this Saturday. His old foe, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, gives their take on the story here, suggesting that it’s hypocritical for an LP candidate to sue to be included in a private forum.

From Russ Verney’s email:

As you read this, our attorneys are filing an injunction against Saddleback Church to include Bob Barr in their forum this Saturday.

You are the first to hear about this.

The complaint is based upon a violation of McCain/Feingold campaign finance legislation.

While we’re no fans of that legislation, we don’t write the rules, we’re just forced to play by them. In this case, we’re using McCain/Feingold to our advantage.

The appeal itself seems to have been written in haste and, although it asserts that the church is breaking the McCain-Feingold campaign finance rules, doesn’t really describe the basis of the injunction being sought.

The email is reminiscent of Monty Python’s tragic black knight:

Black Knight: ‘Tis but a scratch!
King Arthur: A scratch? Your arm’s off!
Black Knight: No, it isn’t!
King Arthur: You liar!
Black Knight: Come on, you pansy!
[They fight again. Arthur cuts off the Knight’s right arm]
King Arthur: Victory is mine!
[Kneels to pray]
King Arthur: We thank thee, Lord, that in thy mercy –
[Cut off by the Knight kicking him]
Black Knight: Come on, then.
King Arthur: What?
Black Knight: Have at you!
King Arthur: You are indeed brave, Sir Knight, but the fight is mine!
Black Knight: Oh, had enough, eh?
King Arthur: Look, you stupid bastard. You’ve got no arms left!

Russ Verney writes:

– We’ve raised less than $1 million
– We’re blocked from upcoming debates
– We’re polling at 6% nationally

No, John McCain could not handle our situation.
But our man, Bob Barr, isn’t slowing down and now he’s fighting mad.

And, of course, there’s some question about the validity of saying Barr is polling at 6%. However, there is evidence that a large number of Americans do want to see Barr and Nader participate in debates.

David Nolan gives Barr a midterm report card, which looks like a ‘C’ to me. Average in fundraising, average in media, below average in message, Party-building, and management. Nolan’s charge is that the campaign has failed to engage and inspire Libertarians, and that such energizing has to be the basis for any strong Libertarian campaign.

I’d like to see a campaign focused a little more on the possible than the windmill-tilting Barr has been playing at (last-minute petitioning in WVA, costly lawsuit in OK, etc.). What can Barr do as a Libertarian candidate? He could spend time meeting with Libertarian activists and candidates around the country, motivating them to become and stay engaged in local activism. Instead, he attends the same tired ‘conservative’ events he attended before, where he is tolerated but not welcomed, and hardly spends any time engaging Libertarian activists. He could work with other third-party candidates to engage those who are hyper-politically aware and win them to our cause. Instead, he eschews any sort of third-party candidate appearances, preferring to pretend he is somehow more relevant than Nader, for instance. He could engage thinkers and idea-spreaders with bold and principled proposals. Instead, he continues to waffle between the attractions of the populist appeal of Perot – but without the charisma (and yes, Perot had lots of charisma compared to Barr), and the more-conservative-than-McCain spoiler game.

Neither of those approaches seem to be working for Barr. He tried the start-with-a-bang approach and is finding that, for various reasons, it isn’t working. What remains to be seen is whether he accepts that fact and modifies his campaign to align with more realistic goals – growing and strengthening the Libertarian Party for the next election, for instance – or whether he persists in recklessly squandering the small amount of Libertarian capital (not just money, but credibility and consistency of message) painstakingly accumulated by hardworking activists who will still be here after November. I hope he chooses the long-term health of the LP over his current quick-burn course.

  1. What remains to be seen is whether he accepts that fact and modifies his campaign to align with more realistic goals – growing and strengthening the Libertarian Party for the next election, for instance

    Haha. Wait, you weren’t serious, were you?

    As for the charges of hypocrisy: Barr is a lifelong parasite and thug for the state, so it should be no surprise that he would attempt to use statist thuggery to gain entry to a PRIVATE forum.

    Once again, I hope the Barr delegates are hanging their heads in shame. No matter if you voted for him on the first or merely the last ballot, THIS IS YOUR FAULT.

  2. But it’s only a flesh wound!

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