NASA’s latest Mars probe touched down successfully today.
The Libertarian Party’s national convention is in Denver this weekend, and today Bob Barr was nominated for president on the sixth ballot:
Rep. Bob Barr has won the Libertarian Party’s nomination on the sixth ballot at the LP convention, with 324 votes to 276 for Mary Ruwart.
The ex-Republican from Georgia won the nomination after a tough battle that one of his supporters called a “dog fight.” Ruwart, a longtime LP activist, was the favorite of the party’s more radical or “purist” faction. … Barr and Vegas oddsmaker Wayne Allyn Root split the “pragmatic” vote in the early rounds of voting, but when Root was eliminated on the fifth ballot, he endorsed Barr and declared his [intention] to be the party’s vice-presidential candidate, a nomination [that] will be decided in a separate vote later today. …
Barr’s assistant, Jennifer Chambrin, was skipping along the sidewalk of 16th Street outside the Sheraton: “We won! We won! We won!” Inside the convention hall, she hugged Barr publicist Audrey Mullen, who then said, “Oh my God, we’ve got so much work to do now.”
P.S. There were several write-in votes for Ron Paul on the first ballot. Meanwhile, Mike Gravel made it to the fourth ballot, but was eliminated at that point with just 76 out of 629 votes, thus vindicating Sean’s argument that “we’re not a repository for crazy people, we’re a political party with a specific political platform!”
P.P.S. On the other hand… in that same comment, Sean — the Irish Trojan Blog’s resident Libertarian — described Mary Ruwart as “that idiot woman who wants to decriminalize kiddie porn.” He’s right. Specifically, Ruwart has been quoted as saying, “Children who willingly participate in sexual acts have the right to make that decision as well, even if itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s distasteful to us personally. Some children will make poor choices just as some adults do in smoking and drinking to excess.” And yet Ruwart received 46 percent of the vote on the final ballot. Hmm. A repository for crazy people? Maybe!
But hey, she’s not the nominee; Barr is. And that raises some questions:
1) Does he make Georgia a swing state? I don’t know how popular Barr is in his home state, but if he’s well-known and well-liked there, is it conceivable that he could draw enough votes from McCain to make the race between Obama and McCain competitive in the Peach State, given the unprecedented African-American turnout that Obama will presumably inspire? (Georgia is 29 percent black.)
2) Does he raise Obama’s “ceiling”? A recent Politico article pointed out that “Obama has long been thought by analysts to have a higher electoral vote ceiling as well as a lower floor than Hillary Clinton. ” The article’s focus was on that “lower floor,” but I wonder if Barr could help rehabilitate his “higher ceiling.” The logic underlying the notion of that “higher ceiling” is that Obama can compete in solid red states in the West, and maybe the South. That concept has largely faded from the public and media consciousness as the bruising campaign against Hillary Clinton has robbed Obama of the “post-partisan” sheen he had after Iowa. But it seems to me that Barr’s opposition to the war, defense of civil liberties, and hard-line stances on immigration and government spending could hurt McCain most severely in precisely those western and southern red states. Might it open the door just wide enough for a resurgent Obama to pull some upsets?
3) Does he increase the likelihood of a clear-cut popular/electoral vote inversion? This is something I first mentioned last month, and I’m hearing more and more talk about it: the possibility of Obama winning a clear victory in the popular vote but losing the electoral vote by a clear, undisputed margin, creating the first “pure” inversion since 1888. The main reason this could happen is because Obama will likely narrow the gap in those same southern and western states that we were just talking about, but won’t win them, and meanwhile he could suffer narrow defeats in a bunch of Rust Belt swing states. Well, for the same reasons stated above, Barr’s candidacy makes it more likely Obama will narrow the gap in the South and West, while doing little to help Obama in the Rust Belt. So I think the answer to this question is clearly yes: Barr makes the popular/electoral inversion more likely.
4) Will Lou Dobbs pay attention to him? Of course, before Barr can have any appreciable impact on the race — whether it involves throwing whole states to Obama (scenarios #1 and #2) or just narrowing the gap in solid red states and thus affecting only the popular vote tally (scenario #3) — he needs to have some sort of media footprint, so that people are aware that he’s running. That’s where the right-wing and/or anti-illegal-immigration TV and radio talking heads come in. Will Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh, etc., give his campaign any serious attention, particularly because of his stance on immigration? This is a crucial question, methinks. McCain is certainly vulnerable to an attack from his right on that issue. Is Barr the man to do it? We shall see.
P.P.P.S. But cf., “nobody likes Bob Barr.”
The Indy 500 is underway. Danica Patrick is in 13th place right now. For Danica's sake, here's hoping Hillary Clinton didn't place any bets on her. :)
UPDATE: Title changed (from “Gentlemen and lady, start your engines”) after Lisa pointed out that there were three women in the race: Patrick, Milka Duno, and Sarah Fisher. All three crashed and did not finish, and Patrick was distinctly unhappy about it. Scott Dixon won the race.
The Jed Report makes an entertaining analogy.
Meanwhile, Hillary herself pens an op-ed explaining her RFK remarks, and outlining her case for why she’s still in the race. It’s basically a repetition of the same bogus arguments that she’s been using all along (popular vote, swing states, etc.), plus a newly explicit playing of the gender card (”as the first female candidate in this position, I believe I have a responsibility to finish this race”) and a veritably Nixonian line about how “my parents did not raise me to be a quitter.” Notably, the op-ed barely mentions Michigan and Florida, and doesn’t specifically use them as an independent rationale for continuing her campaign. Is she backing away from the precipice?
In any event, I think it’s telling that she feels the need to defend herself in this fashion. It’s never a good sign, methinks, when you’re reduced to penning newspaper columns explaining why you haven’t dropped out of the race yet. It’s even worse when you’re saying things like: “I am not unaware of the challenges or the odds of my securing the nomination - but this race remains extraordinarily close.” Yeah, it’s close, but so is a basketball game where one team is up by 4 and has the ball with 1.2 seconds left. It’s close, but it’s over. And it sounds like Hillary might be starting to realize that.