Even by this blog’s standards, here’s a big dose of libertarianism:
•Hey, V for Vendetta mask-wearers: remember, remember that on the Fifth of November (this Saturday), Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich will debate one-on-one (on C-SPAN at 8pm Eastern). Gingrich, now at #3 in the GOP-voter polls, can’t come out of the bout at #1 – but maybe he can finish off a faltering Cain and position himself as #2, behind Romney.
Gingrich is the perfect person to administer the knock-out blow to Cain, since Gingrich can fight the entire battle on the wholesome ground of technocratic know-how, without ever mentioning Cain’s sex-harassment problems (indeed, Gingrich, now on his third marriage, has as little incentive to focus on sex scandals as Romney has to focus on religious controversy).
Cain is almost delusionally fuzzy on details, whereas Gingrich, say what you will about him, is as wonk-detail-oriented as Bill Clinton. He would do well to remind people that the 90s were as much the Gingrich Decade as the Clinton Decade. If Romney wins (and refuses to pick radical Ron Paul as his running mate), he could do worse than Gingrich.
•At the moment, you can (roughly) divide the nine relevant GOP candidates into three tiers of three candidates each, with mushy pragmatists currently at the top in terms of popularity, as often seems to be the case (Cain, Romney, Gingrich); then the Tea Partiers, who, to put it mildly, aren’t proving quite as charming to the masses as some of us were hoping, in the middle (Paul, Perry, Bachmann); and the competent-yet-constituentless dudes at the bottom (Santorum, Huntsman, Johnson).
If I had to pick a favorite from each tier, they’d be: Gingrich, Paul, and Johnson. (I would also vote for historian Paul Johnson if he were eligible.) My guess is it’ll effectively be over by the end of January’s primaries, with Romney sitting pretty, but there are still an astonishing seven more GOP debates scheduled for 2011, so there’s still time for ALL SORTS OF WEIRD THINGS TO HAPPEN.
(Will one of my friends with connections to Ron Paul for God’s sake teach him how to do diplomatic outreach to his own party sometime in the next few weeks, what with, you know, the fate of the republic hanging in the balance and all?)
•Saturday (on Channel 13 in New York) also brings the 4pm airing of a recent Intelligence Squared U.S. debate in which libertarians Richard Epstein and Dan Mitchell got trounced (according to the audience vote, anyway) by defenders of Obama’s jobs bill [CORRECTION: The Epstein et al broadcast has moved to Sat., Nov. 12 at 4pm]. I’m sure I’ll prefer them nonetheless. On the bright side, Mitchell’s colleagues at the Cato Institute now have a blog on which they can explain free-market positions in greater detail: behold Libertarianism.org.
•I’ll DVR the debates while heading off to the big,history-filled, and soon-to-be-closed New York compound of the (Atlanta-based) Foundation for Economic Education, where fellow anarchist-atheist Michael Malice and I will hear Ayn Rand Institute president Yaron Brook give a climactic speech.
(I may not learn anything new, after two decades of being a libertarian and all, but it’ll probably be more educational than the karaoke with libertarians I’ve committed to for tomorrow night – and mingling with Randians in these days of Occupy Wall Street seems profoundly appropriate. Might my visiting Arkansas wonk pal bring his harmonica to karaoke? That is the real question.)
•If you wanna chat about all this stuff in person, you can find me this coming Monday night (November 7) 6:30-9:30pm at McGee’s bar on W. 55th just west of Broadway (usually the DC Comics staff hangout and for a time the Manhattans Project spot). There, libertarian- and conservative-friendly America’s Future Foundation-NYC will hold its launch party (RSVP to Chadwick[at]AmericasFuture.org if you’re interested). Hint: the future is not in Zuccotti Park, much as we feel their pain.
•One person who should attend AFF-NYC if he finds himself feeling like a social outcast is the libertarianish conservative I bumped into on the street a couple weeks ago – John Derbyshire – who is being mocked by the humorless and nuance-free Jim Newell at Gawker (as Tricia Summers points out to me). Derb is not saying there is no such thing as etiquette or egregious violations of etiquette, just that not every etiquette violation ought to be a legal matter. Cain no doubt agrees – as should pretty much anyone accustomed to conversation in New York City.