Political Animal


April 09, 2013 9:05 AM Bob Barr Is Back!

By Ed Kilgore

In my home state of Georgia, it seems half the Republican Members of the U.S. House delegation have entered or will soon enter the more-conservative-than-thou festival of the primary to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss. So you’d think the Delegation would be getting some badly needed new blood—who knows, maybe even someone who likes to legislate instead of posturing for the Tea Party/Christian Right galleries!

But the first big news of the succession parade is an old, familiar name: former anti-libertarian congressman and then Libertarian candidate for president, Bob Barr, is running for Phil Gingrey’s House seat in the northwest Atlanta suburbs and exurbs. Much of this is territory Barr represented from 1995-2003.

Moreover, Barr seems to have the money (or fundraising potential) and pull to put together an all-star campaign staff. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Daniel Malloy, his general consultant will be none other than John Weaver, the celebrity “strategist” last seen dispensing sage quotes to excited Beltway reporters while guiding Jon Huntsman’s presidential campaign to the bottom of the sea. He’ll be joined on Team Barr by celebrity pollster Kellyanne Conway; and celebrity media consultant Fred (“Demon Sheep”) Davis. This last gent has some history in Georgia, having crafted the viral “King Rat” ad Sonny Perdue successfully deployed against Gov. Roy Barnes in 2002.

It will be interesting to see how much time Barr has to spend explaining his somewhat erratic record to conservative primary audiences who think nothing much new of value has happened since the Constitutional Convention: the Patriot Act co-author who later joined the libertarian demonization of same; the principal DOMA author who now supports its (at least partial) appeal, just when the kind of conservatives who dominate Georgia politics are clustering around it, etc., etc. Barr may even have some ‘splainin to do to libertarians, who were startled by his endorsement of Newt Gingrich for president in 2012.

For all his national celebrity, the last time Barr ran for office in Georgia (after a Democratic legislature combined his seat with another incumbent’s), in 2002, he got trounced by House colleague John Linder, in a campaign enlivened by Barr’s accidental discharge of a antique pistol at a reception (a bit embarrassing for a then-board-member of the NRA).

Well, with people like Gingrey and Paul Broun on the hustings in the Senate primary, Barr can probably express his peculiarities abundantly without getting too much negative attention. Looks like 2014 will provide the ideal protective cover for the return of one of Georgia’s distinguished list of political eccentrics. Can Barr’s one-time House colleague and 2008 rival for the presidency (on the Green ticket), Cynthia McKinney, be far behind?

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on April 09, 2013 9:32 AM:

    Sure, the Midwestern Republicans provide some real high-quality whack-a-loons, like Michele Bachmann and Steve King, but there's a lot to be said for the sheer quantity of whack-a-loons that the Southern Republicans provide us.

  • ComradeAnon on April 09, 2013 9:34 AM:

    And where there's Barr, Boortz is not too far behind. Time for another installment (book) in the Fair Tax scam?

  • ComradeAnon on April 09, 2013 9:36 AM:

    Doh! I read Barr, but was thinking Linder. Hard to keep the Wingnuts separate.

  • jjdaddyo on April 09, 2013 10:13 AM:

    I am dreading the 18 month Festival of Stupid that will be the Georgia Senate race.
    What saves me from insanity is that I do not have cable or satellite TV, so I will not have my brain melted by many thousands of brain-melting commercials. I only get to experience the tsunami of robocalls.

  • zandru on April 09, 2013 10:34 AM:

    Some remember Bob Barr for shooting the watermelon (to prove that Hillary Clinton offed Vince Foster). Others recall when he left the Republican Party because it was too left-wing for his tastes (a sweet committee chairmanship brought him back).

    I prefer to recall his candid performance in Borat, where he politely and diplomatically eats cheese "from my vife's breasts".

  • DJ on April 09, 2013 10:41 AM:

    It was Dan Burton who shot the watermelon, not Bob Barr.

  • MuddyLee on April 09, 2013 11:00 AM:

    If this was still April Fools Day, reading something that mentioned all these people in one post wouldn't have surprised me. But now - this has given me the blues. Bring on the videos,
    Ed. KellyAnne working for Bob Barr?

    I've got a conservative woman - have mercy on me
    I've got an ultra-conservative woman too....etc etc

  • Joe Friday on April 09, 2013 11:16 AM:

    My favorite episode with Barr was when he was debating gay marriage, and he claimed he was against it because the institution of marriage was "sacred". Somebody asked him which one of his marriages was the sacred one: the first one, the second one, or the third one ?

    He turned bright red, and it looked like his head was about to explode. One of the funniest confrontations I've seen.

    And Kellyanne Conway (formally Kellyanne Fitzpatrick) is another mobile RightWing circus.

    Make lots of extra popcorn.

  • Rip on April 09, 2013 11:19 AM:

    I'll take unpredictably wacky Republicans like Barr, over predictable assholes like Paul Broun any day.

  • fostert on April 09, 2013 1:19 PM:

    Awesome! Look, we can't really expect a reasonable person to be elected in Georgia. But Bob Barr is surely one of the most colorful politicians we've had. If nothing else, he'll make Jon Stewart's job easier. He's just a fun guy to have around. Comedy gold, for sure.