Thursday, June 5, 2008

Bob Barr, prescription drugs, and me

So, it was an interesting Debate at Lolita Bar. As was rumored in advance, Bob Barr himself showed up as I argued against his presidential campaign. Thus, he got a chance to heckle me, the crowd was raucous and packed with libertarian purist wannabees, and I lost the vote against my estimable debating opponent, Avery Knapp, by a 2-1 margin. A good time was had by all.

I stated in my presentation that Bob Barr had voted for the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, and Barr called out "I wasn't even in Congress then. Do your research." I then asked if he'd ever supported the legislation and he was oddly silent. I'd first heard about Barr's stand on the issue from a post by Ramesh Ponnuru at NRO and I hadn't seen this follow-up:
Rep. Bob Barr and Entitlements [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Earlier, I noted that Rep. Barr had voted to create a prescription-drug entitlement in Medicare. Clark Stooksbury points out that Barr had left Congress before the bill passed in 2003. That's correct. But Barr was still in Congress in 2002, and he voted for the idea then. (I phrased the post a bit clumsily, so it sounded as though I were claiming that Barr had voted for the bill in 2003.)
So again, I will point out to my libertarian purist friends that their nemesis, John McCain, voted against the Medicare expansion, and their new hero, Bob Barr, backed the idea.

Video of the event may be available soon. I'll keep you updated.

UPDATE: I'm told the video is of poor quality, and getting it online will take some time. But whenever it is ready, readers of this blog will be among the first to know.

UPDATE 6/9: Video here.


George Musser said...

One thing that was clear from the debate is that libertarian purists are going to have a tough time deciding whom to support in this election. McCain, Barr, and Obama each has some positions that appeal to libertarians and others that are downright painful to them. Yes, I include Obama on this list. The animus against him last night was perplexing, because if this is a choice among imperfect candidates, Obama's problematic record on free trade needs to be set against his strong position on civil liberties and humility in the use of power -- much as Barr's support of the Defense of Marriage Act needs to be set against his advocacy of federalism, and as McCain's support for an open-ended occupation of Iraq needs to be set against his record on Congressional earmarks. Purists are going to have to stay at home on Election Day - in which case, will their ideals ever influence the national debate? As Ken said last night, pragmatism is a worthy ideal in its own right. Without it, none of our other ideals matters.

Kenneth Silber said...

Thanks for attending, George. If there had been more Democrats in the room, I would've said it's ultimately in Democrats' interests too that the Republicans not be an angry, obstructionist party incapable of compromise. But there weren't many Democrats in the room.

Denise Silber said...

Ken, any further predictions regarding the presidential results? Numbers? States? regards, Denise

Kenneth Silber said...

I still tend to think McCain ekes it out, without necessarily much success by Republicans in Congress. But it's such an unpredictable year the only sure thing is, it won't be Bob Barr.

George Musser said...

I guess my point is simply that the Republican party is not necessarily the most natural second home for libertarians.

Kenneth Silber said...

I thought Brink Lindsey's call for liberaltarians had some merit. But one unfortunate consequence of the Ron Paul campaign has been to promote some illiberal aspects of libertarianism.