Does it matter that former GOP Georgia congressman Bob Barr -- the anti-Clinton-right-winger of the '90s turned civil libertarian in the '00s -- is running for president in the fall as the likely candidate of the Libertarian Party? My first reaction was 'no,' but Josh Marshall makes a compelling case that it could make John McCain's mission even more difficult, as if he needed that:
The anti-war, small-l libertarian stance is generally assumed to be more attractive in the West. And this raises some interesting possibilities since it's in the West that Obama's strength as a general election candidate has been most evident. As I explained earlier, if you draw a line from Michigan west to the southern tip of Nevada, it's in the states above that line where Obama is outperforming Hillary Clinton and putting some traditionally Republican states into play. And a lot of those states are also ones where libertarian politics, if not Libertarian party candidates, have traditionally faired (sic) well. So I wonder if Barr's candidacy could potentially have the net effect of adding to Obama's traction in those states.
One of Josh's faithful readers adds the point that it can't be good for McCain to be hearing from anti-war candidates on the Left and now on the Right as well. We'll see. Given that 82 percent of Americans think the country is on the wrong track, it's amazing that the November race could be so close that a third-party candidate could have an impact.