Bob Barr, the John Edwards of the Right

Bob Barr threw his hat in the ring as a Libertarian yesterday, to the collective disinterest of everyone outside of the pundit class. About all the impact Barr will have on this election will be to provide fodder for snarky columns like this Dana Milbank entry, which covers Barr’s foibles rather definitively. Politically, though, Barr has even less credibility than Milbank reports:

As a Republican candidate for the House in 1994, he rose to national attention when reports alleged that he had licked whipped cream off the breasts of two women at a charity event.

As a congressman from Georgia, the thrice-married Barr returned attention to the whipped-cream episode when, speaking in support of the Defense of Marriage Act, he argued that “the flames of self-centered morality are licking at the very foundations of our society.”

As one of the managers of Bill Clinton‘s impeachment, Barr gained enough prominence to attempt a run for the Senate in 2002. But that effort fell apart at about the time Barr accidentally fired a .38-caliber pistol through a glass door at a fundraising reception. ….

He listed his grievances: government eavesdropping, suspending habeas corpus, runaway spending. Americans “deserve better,” he said. “I believe they deserve better. And the Libertarian Party deserves they believe better.”

Barr could be forgiven the slip-up, and problems with subject-verb agreement throughout his speech. He could also be forgiven for going on too long, to the point that his wife consulted her watch and Verney studied the campaign banner. His flushed face and gyrating body made it clear that he was fired up — and ready to exploit McCain’s troubled relations with conservatives.

Barr has more problems than a little whipped-cream licking to overcome. Based on his own platform, Barr will have to conduct a John Edwards campaign, running against pretty much his entire voting record during his Congressional career. On every issue Barr names, he voted in the manner in which he now criticizes.

Let’s count them up:

  • Iraq War: voted to authorize.
  • Eavesdropping and “suspending habeas corpus” (which hasn’t happened — and war detainees have never had it): Voted for the Patriot Act.
  • Runaway spending: voted for Medicare, Part D — which McCain opposed.

What will he use for a campaign slogan — “In hindsight, I was a lousy Congressman”? That didn’t work for John Edwards this year in a major-party primary, and it won’t convince people to vote Libertarian, either.