Bob Barr: Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again

I was listening to Wednesday’s Talk of the Nation podcast episode, and they had on Bob Barr as a guest. Why not? He’s a retired Congressman, he’s probably got nothing better to do with his time. Wait, he’s running for President on the Libertarian Party ticket? Well… like I said, he’s probably got nothing better to do with his time.

There were a couple of parts of the show that caused me to laugh aloud.., well alright snicker, but I was on the bus at the time.

Let’s just say that I think Bob Barr as the Libertarian Party candidate is just evidence for why the Libertarian Party’s philosophy doesn’t work. If the party most in favor of devolving government and returning more power to local organizations and individuals picks a candidate like Barr, then it is just proof that most individuals are not fit to govern.

Why attack Barr so? You shouldn’t consider it an attack upon Bob Barr’s person, but rather upon the fact that prior to jumping free from the Republican Party, Representative Barr supported many of the things that the Libertarian Party is dead set against. Consider the exchanges below:

Lynn Neary: But, but you did vote for the Patriot Act, did you not?

Bobb Barr: Yeah… which…

Neary: …which increased the power of the government to eavesdrop on citizens… that doesn’t seem…

Barr: No… the Patriot Act did not deal with increased surveillance of Americans*, the administration has done that quite separate from the Patriot Act. I did vote for the Patriot Act, as a number of folks did, at the time, after working on it to get the administration to scale some of its provisions back; they also made a number of promises to us that, I guess a number of us na

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4 Responses to Bob Barr: Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again

  1. madcap says:


    The labels “liberal” and “conservative” don’t really mean much these days, except in the most general way. The Republican and the Democrat parties are not really ideologically driven (although there certainly are ideologues in both, and in the Republican party they are especially prominent). If you don’t believe me, just wait until the party platforms come out. You can expect a few key issues to fall a certain way (e.g. abortion), but otherwise, the platforms are usually relatively generic. Or look at the Blue Dog Democrats, who are more or less secular Republicans.

    The Libertarian Party, however, as a third party, is driven around an ideology. There are specific libertarian principles that hte party is supposed to stand for. For the record, I consider myself a civil-libertarian among other “isms”, but not a libertarian, with the lowercase or capital L. If you agree that Barr is not really a Libertarian, then by voting for him, you are just chasing a label- you’ve sold out your vote for the tactical hope that the Libertarian party will garner more clout through increased votes. The only thing you’ll have accomplished, however, is sacrificing the integrity of the party.

    But back to my question- if Barr does not really represent the principles of the party, why is he their nominee? His rhetoric now certainly hits the main points of the Libertarians, but his past voting record does not. So, if he’s ready to come out and say he’s changed his mind on some issues… I could accept that; but his response was a political “the Libertarian Party is a big party with many different views” nonsense. Well, one need only visit the Libertarian Party website to see that this is not really the case. There are several key issues that if you don’t agree with the party line, you’re not really a Libertarian (in fact, last time I checked on their website, which was years ago, they were explicitly recommending other parties I was more compatible with).

    As for the Patriot Act, the excuse that George Bush lied about something is nonsense. The major points of the act were well-known by the general public before it was made law, including the most controversial expansions of federal law enforcement power.

    As far as I’m concerned, a good libertarian (and as a civil libertarian, this is where I would agree) would not rely on the good graces of the executive to restrain its power- a good libertarian would resist granting that power in the first place, and where it is necessary, would ensure there were strong safeguards upon it. Simply granting the authority and hoping for the best is not acceptable. Barr’s excuse in this regard echoes of Captain Renault’s famous line “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”

  2. Oh! says:

    Obama is not a real liberal and McCain is not a real conservative and yet people support them. Maybe we will have to settle for less than a real libertarian. If Obama or McCain were nominated by the LP then no libertarian would support them. I don’t think this is about tactics, it’s just about sacrifice. What’s more important to me? Supporting my beliefs or punishing someone for supporting my beliefs? I don’t think there’s anything Barr can do about to past, I know he can’t change it. Have you ever read the Patriot Act? Maybe it didn’t, but the government did it anyway. They lied, sound familiar? You expect George Bush, after lying to get us into war, to tell the truth about what he intended to do with the Patriot Act? You may support Ron Paul but that doesn’t mean you have to vote for him. Ron Paul would tell you the same.

  3. madcap says:


    You said “You have to be kidding. A man who was involved in actually passing this law, reading every detail fighting for changes to it, and you suggest wikipedia.(which would not have existed before the Patriot Act was enacted)”. True. It’s called “sarcasm”, you may want to look *that* up in Wikipedia.

    Anyway, as to the substance of your statements: had Congressman Barr really read every detail of the Patriot Act before signing it, he would not have suggested on Talk of the Nation that it did not expand the surveillance powers of the federal government. Perhaps he would have actually voted against it, like Ron Paul did (see for the roll call).

    Being a Ron Paul supporter, and seeing as how Dr. Paul voted against both the original Patriot Act as well as its renewal, I find your statement “supporting Barr is an easy decision” to make little sense, at least with regards to the Patriot Act, the only issue you specifically mention in your comments.

    If you concede that Barr’s past voting record is decidedly un-libertarian, and given his present unwillingness to recant it, it seems that your support of Barr as the Libertarian candidate is a purely tactical choice, which seems both ludicrous (because let’s face it, Barr is not going to get a significant percentage of the vote) and is against the principles that the Libertarian party and Ron Paul himself seem to stand for. Notice that Dr. Paul himself has decided not to run on the Libertarian ticket (where he would be easily nominated), mainly because he felt that the party was too marginalized to be able to carry his message.

    Would you support any candidate that the Libertarian party nominated? What if the party supported McCain or Obama? In other words, what sort of candidate would the Libertarian party have to nominate in order to lose your support? It’s already nominated a candidate who, despite his current rhetoric, has a track record of non-libertarian positions, so how far away from the principles would a candidate need to be?

    I certainly am willing to debate about the Libertarian platform, but unfortunately for your party, I don’t think my criticisms of Bob Barr reach into that territory, because I don’t think he’s a real Libertarian.

  4. tj says:

    The Patriot Act did most definitely increase the surveillance power of the government

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