Looks like Bob Barr is going to do it. Kudos to Kelley Vlahos, who had an accurate sense that this story was really developing. I’m delighted at the prospect of having someone to vote for in November. But I wonder, will Barr throw the election — to John McCain?
Don’t buy the conventional wisdom. Yes, libertarians are historically closer in the U.S. to the Right than to the Left, and Barr is a former Republican congressman (with a not-very-libertarian voting record on things like the War on Drugs and the Patriot Act) whom some conservatives may fondly remember as a Clinton impeachment manager. None of that means he’ll be taking more hanging chads or Diebold blips from McCain than from the Democrat come November. Everyone I know who would vote for Barr has already pretty much made up his or her mind (in some cases without even knowing it) not to vote for the Republican nominee. Barr will devastate the Obamacons — who are marginal, to be sure. But in a close race, they could count. Libertarians who might have reluctantly voted for Obama will likewise gravitate toward Barr.
What’s even worse than the prospect of Barr throwing the election to McCain is the dismal prospect that the combined percentage Barr and Obama receive — the antiwar, pro-civil liberties Right and sorta-kinda-not-really antiwar Left together — still might not match McCain. The averages at RealClearPolitics.com weren’t looking too hot for a while there, though now it seems that Obama is incrementally ahead nationally.
I’m glad Barr’s getting in. He’ll provide an honorable alternative to McCain or Obama. But it will be a pity if honor is vindicated at the price of four more years of Bushism.