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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

David Nolan's Straw Men

A parade of Nolan straw men:

"the idea that we can simply sort of clean things up and get rid of some of the excesses and make things work a little better, the typical reformer position..."

"if you want to be a reformer and trim away at the edges of the ever-growing goliath in Washington D.C. ..."

"...reformer who wants to slow down the growth of government, wants to cut spending a little bit..."

Nolan doesn't dare address the actual Reform Caucus agenda: that the Libertarian Party's platform and pledge should not require candidates and party members to advocate abolition of all government.  Similarly, his anarchist host Lew Rockwell spoke for 10-15 minutes at Ron Paul's Rally For The Republic and lacked the courage to even hint at abolition of the State.  When push comes to shove, so-called "radicals" like Nolan and Rockwell define themselves merely by who they oppose (Barr, conservatives, etc.), rather than by the policy goals they support.

Aside from citing Barr's plan for cutting federal spending by allegedly only a few hundred billion dollars, Nolan offered zero specific substantive criticism of the policy content of the Barr campaign.  Neither Nolan nor Rockwell bother to mention that Ron Paul's 2008 presidential campaign was even thinner than Barr's on spending cuts.  Instead, Ron Paul denied that he has ever supported abolition of public schools, bragged about how he has "saved" Social Security, and suggested that leaving Iraq will free up money for domestic social spending.

Barr can be criticized for not using the Libertarian brand on his web site, but he definitely did use it in his earned media.  In the 15 Barr appearances on national TV from mid-July to mid-September that are available on YouTube, Barr used the word "Libertarian" 16 times, but "conservative" only twice.  His interviewers used the word "Libertarian" 49 times, and "conservative" only once.  This data excludes a lengthy C-SPAN interview, where Barr said "Libertarian" 45 times and "conservative" 8 times.