Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bob Barr and the Blog Blizzard

A note on my threatened "blog blizzard": Nobody has unsubscribed as a result of my warning, so I've decided to do all the posting on a daily basis, two or three at a time. They will still show up all together in the archives, but my theory is that they will not be emailed all at once. I don't really know how this will work.

Bob Barr is exploring the possibility of running for President as a Libertarian. Barr, who represented Georgia's 7th congressional district from 1995 to 2003, is best known for his role as one of the House managers during the Clinton impeachment trial.

According to his blog, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, in a speech at Mercer University on Thursday, was dismissive of Barr’s efforts to seek the Libertarian nomination. This is not the first time Gingrich has undermined libertarian Republicans.

In 1996, Ron Paul was reelected to Congress after a very difficult battle against the Republican establishment. According to Jake Morphonios, House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Governor George W. Bush, and the NRA all turned against Paul and threw their support to another Republican during the Texas primaries. Who was this opponent? His name was Greg Laughlin - a man who switched from the Democrat party after receiving promises of support from Gingrich and others if he ran against Paul. Why would Gingrich support a Democrat rather than Ron Paul? The neo-cons thought Laughlin would be more inclined to follow their neo-con agenda than Ron Paul.

At Mercer, Gingrich drew unfavorable contrasts between Barr and Ross Perot's 1992 "spoiler" campaign. Russ Verney, writing on Barr's blog, made some interesting clarifications:

In 1992 Ross Perot received almost 20% of the vote when just 34% could have won the election. Additionally, exit polling conducted by the news media asked voters leaving the polls who they voted for. Voters who responded Perot were then asked, “If Perot wasn’t in the race who would you have voted for?” The result of that question is that Bill Clinton would have won if Ross Perot was not in the race on election day. Ross Perot was not a spoiler, he was a contestant.

However, the voters who responded to the exit pollster that they voted for Bush (41) and Clinton were asked a follow-up question, “If you thought Perot could win, would you have voted for him?” The analysis of the responses to that question is that Perot would have won the 1992 election if the voters thought he could win: To the voters Perot was the preferred candidate, not the spoiler.

This is how the media controls elections in our day: by telling the voters who "will" win the election.

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