A Libertarian Nader?

A Libertarian Nader?

What happened
Former Georgia congressman Bob Barr, a Republican-turned-Libertarian, has launched an exploratory committee to run for president on the Libertarian Party ticket. Barr, one of the managers of the impeachment proceedings against then-president Bill Clinton, left office in 2003. Former Democratic Sen. Mike Gravel, who joined the Libertarian Party after dropping his long-shot bid for the Democratic nomination, is also angling to top the ticket when Libertarians pick their nominee in May. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

What the commentators said
Barr envisions his run as “an extension of Representative Ron Paul’s campaign,” said Sarah Wheaton in The New York Times’ The Caucus blog (free registration). And if he does better than Paul at “pulling votes from disaffected conservatives,” a Barr candidacy could be bad news for Republican nominee John McCain.

Barr could in fact “throw the election—to John McCain,” said Daniel McCarthy in The American Conservative. The average disaffected Republican “has already pretty much made up his or her mind (in some cases without even knowing it) not to vote for the Republican nominee” in November. But Barr could “devastate” Barack Obama by luring away a small but important number of “Obamacons,” or Republicans and “Libertarians who might have reluctantly voted for Obama.” Barr would offer them a new, “honorable alternative.”

Barr will “almost certainly not” be “the Ralph Nader of 2008,” for either party, said Reihan Salam in The Atlantic’s The Current blog. But he “may well change the face of national politics for years to come,” if he can keep the Paul-inspired “youthful activists” energized. He would probably still be a “a fairly loyal Bush Republican” if he hadn’t lost his congressional seat in 2002 and then become “radicalized” over the “erosion of civil liberties.” Now he’s poised to tap into the re-emergent strains of “populist and nationalist currents” that have emerged with the “fragmentation of the political right.”

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