Saturday, May 17

BARR LIVENS UP THE LIBERTARIAN SCENE

WILLIAM R. HAWKINS ,FRONTPAGEMAGAZINE Bob Barr, a Georgia Republican congressman from 1995- 2003, formally announced his campaign for president on the Libertarian Party ticket on Monday, May 12. It was widely reported that his candidacy will take votes away from the GOP presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain, similar to the way Ralph Nader's campaign will hurt the Democratic nominee. But while Barr was a conservative Congressman, he has moved rapidly to the left since breaking with the Republican Party two years ago. He has claimed that a McCain victory would be a "third term" for the Bush administration. On issues of national security and foreign policy, he now sounds more like Nader or Barack Obama. Instead of running to the right of McCain, Barr will be running well to his left - perhaps even further left than the Democratic nominee. Indeed, one of his best-known competitors for the nomination is far-leftist Mike Gravel.

In a video posted on the left-wing Huffington Post the day of his announcement, Barr says, "Only a fool would signal to whatever our adversaries are, whoever our adversaries are, exactly how and when we would be drawing down our troops. But I do believe that it is extremely important, and in the best interests of America's defenses and our security, and our relationship with our allies, that we do begin immediately setting in place a plan to draw down, dramatically decrease the military, the economic and the political footprint that we maintain in Iraq." Barr's vagueness about who the enemy is in Iraq, be it al-Qaeda or Iranian-backed militias, makes it easier for him to ignore the consequences of his proposed withdrawal of all tools of American influence from the region. Allies and those considering whether to align with the United States, are not going to be favorably impressed by a demonstration of American weakness; nor is crippling political divisions at home a persuasive argument for democracy. . .

He is opposed to defending the United States itself from terrorist attack. He joined with Bruce Fein, a notorious critic of the Bush administration who has called for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney, to form the "American Freedom Agenda." The most consistent theme running through left-wing opinion since September 11, 2001, has been concern for the well-being of the enemy, who must be protected from American counter measures. The Barr-Fein agenda thus calls for extending habeas corpus to alien enemy combatants and amending the Espionage Act to permit journalists to reveal classified national security information without fear of prosecution.

OUTRIGHT LIBERTARIANS We find that though he has shown some welcome evolution on the issues, he has a record that remains notably different from the other Libertarians in the race. Mr. Barr has not completed Outright's Candidate Survey, but is "on the record" regarding two issues key within the LGBT Libertarian community and the broader LGBT electoral base.

First, while we applaud the former Congressman's repudiation of the anti-gay military policy that he drafted for the Wall Street Journal, and the evolution that this represents for Mr. Barr, his opinion on this issue simply moved into the Libertarian mainstream-rather than pushing the debate forward.

On the Defense of Marriage Act-an odious law that Bob Barr co-sponsored as a Congressman-his evolution has been far slower. We have discussed the law with him a number of times, and recently he has telegraphed support for repealing the half of the law that creates a federal definition of marriage. However, he has not consistently campaigned on this point, and seems reluctant to speak of it.

In contrast, Democratic nomination candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton has adopted a similar position, yet appears more willing to campaign upon it. Barack Obama has declared that he would repeal the law altogether.