Bob Barr got back to his anti-war roots yesterday, calling the prospect of U.S. military action against Iran “unnecessary, counterproductive, costly and dangerous.”
In condemning the Bush administration’s bellicose stance toward Tehran, the Libertarian presidential candidate was joined at a Capitol Hill press conference by a liberal roster that included Democratic Reps. Lynn Woolsey and Barbara Lee of California, Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and Marcy Kaptur of Ohio. There was even an appearance by a contingent of activists from Code Pink, the distaff demonstrators infamous for their disruptive tactics.
The leftist crowd at yesterday’s event — organized by a coalition called the Campaign for a New American Policy in Iran — might have seemed an odd milieu for the former Georgia Republican. On the other hand, it could be seen a flashback to Barr’s undergraduate days at the University of Southern California.
Arriving at USC in 1966, the Iowa native joined the Young Democrats on campus and was soon active in protests against the Vietnam War.* Barr eventually became disillusioned with the peace movement, however — he has said that reading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged convinced him of Communism’s totalitarian menace — and by the time he graduated in 1970, he was an all-out Republican.
What a long, strange trip it’s been for Barr to have come full-circle to yesterday’s scene in front of the Cannon House Office Building.
“There is no imminent threat [from Iran] and only an imminent threat can ever justify a preemptive strike,” Barr told reporters, with the Capitol dome looming behind him as a camera-friendly backdrop.
NOT ALL THE speakers at the “It’s Time To Talk” event were liberal Democrats, however, and the occasion allowed Barr an opportunity to say hello to a former congressional colleague he calls “a very good friend,” Texas Rep. Ron Paul.
Much of Barr’s hope to make his Libertarian candidacy a serious threat in November depends on his ability to capture the energy — and phenomenal fundraising potential — demonstrated by Paul’s anti-war insurgency in the GOP.
Already, many of the activists who supported Paul in the Republican primaries are working for Barr. Monday, two pro-Paul bloggers sent out an e-mail explaining they were backing Barr because his campaign would “retain the philosophical core of Ron Paul’s message.”
So far, however, Barr has yet to match the online money machine that helped generate more than $30 million for Paul’s primary campaign. As of yesterday, the Barr campaign’s website reported he had raised about $250,000.
The Libertarian’s lag in fund-raising may have to do with how he sells his message. While Barr and Paul share an opposition to the Bush foreign policy, the Capitol Hill event highlighted the different rhetorical styles of the two men.
Paul tends toward dramatic language and apocalyptic warnings. The Bush policy is “immoral, unconstitutional, not legal under international law,” the Texan said yesterday, and prophesied that economic ruin “is going to come down on our heads” as a consequence. “The Soviets collapsed for financial reasons. We will, as well.”
Barr, by contrast, strives for a more common-sense tone, as when calling for a “constructive dialogue” with Iran as an alternative to the Bush administration’s refusal to negotiate with Tehran.
“The prime minister of Iraq is talking with the Iranian leadership, the Israelis are talking with Syria, and the Bush administration won’t talk to anybody.” Barr said in an interview following yesterday’s press conference. “It makes no sense whatsoever.”
BARR SOUGHT TO position himself as a reasonable alternative to Republican Sen. John McCain — whose mocking “bomb Iran” ditty became an instant YouTube classic — and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, who has said he’d require no preconditions to meet with Iran’s Holocaust-denying President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?