Wally Olson’s speeches in the Yale Political Union 30 years ago did more to make me comfortable with Libertarianism than any other single factor, so I’m disappointed to see him describe the Libertarian presidential candidate (Badnarik) as a "barking moonbat". I’m not entirely clear what that phrase means, but it seems to imply that the Libertarian Party ought to be rebuked for selecting him.
Badnarik does have some weird ideas and a general lack of brilliance that, in an ideal world, would mean that we should have expected better of the LP. But given the LP’s recent history, it deserves some modest rewards for selecting a candidate who does such basic things as buying advertising to spread Libertarian ideas. According to R.W. Bradford in Liberty Magazine (who may have been the first to publicize Badnarik’s strange ideas), Badnarik had spent 20 percent of the money he raised to buy ads as of mid-September. By comparison, Browne spent much less than 1 percent of his 1996 budget on buying ads. And as far as I can tell, Badnarik has enough sense to downplay his stranger ideas when campaigning.
Badnarik may be goofy and mediocre, but we’re stuck in a situation where that looks clearly better than what we should expect if we reject him.
I saw a great bumper sticker recently which (perhaps unintentionally) suggests the appropriate way to think about this election: Frodo failed – Bush got the ring. Tolkien wouldn’t want us to think that giving the ring to a Gollum or a Gandalf would be sufficient to solve the problem. Giving the ring to the least power-hungry person available is better than giving it to the smartest.