live in a disgusting age, with a vulgar popular culture that mirrors
the vulgarity of America's imperial pretensions, but what could
be worse than talk-show host Bill Maher? His latest artistic achievement
was as the reader in the audio version of Joe Esterhazy's novel
in which the main character is Slick Willie's willie. With his
sneering, leering public persona, Maher was a natural for the
part and his politics are even more depraved than his esthetics.
is a man who praised the Kosovo war as "the liberal thing to do"
chumming it up with none other than Harry Browne, the Libertarian
Party presidential candidate: "You know, I'm a libertarian too,"
gushed Maher who then launched into an argument about why
we need an amoral "Machievellian" like "Slick" Willie in the Oval
Office because "it's good for America." Poor Harry just sat there,
brow furrowed, as the host of "Politically Incorrect" a
show whose name is the biggest misnomer in the history of television
ranted on about how much Americans just loooove
power-mad SOB's like Bill Clinton, and a good thing too, because
they're "real leaders." If Maher is a "libertarian," as he constantly
claims, then up is down, black is white and I renounce
Maher is brazenly evil, the hapless Browne is just plain stupid.
Ceaselessly repeating the simplistic manta that "Bush and Gore
want to run your life," he coasted along for most of the show
by either keeping his mouth shut or else agreeing with Maher's
inanities. At the tail-end of the hour, however, Browne waded
into some pretty deep water and plunged in over his head.
After getting a lot of applause for questioning whether the US
government had the right to indiscriminately kill Iraqis with
sanctions and bombs, the LP presidential candidate agreed with
Maher's proposal that the US government ought to kill the leaders
of foreign countries, such as Saddam Hussein. "I would put a price
on their heads," he declared, referring not only to Saddam but
also presumably to Slobodan Milosevic and anyone else that gets
in our way. "And I would make it available for anyone to collect,
including their wives."
since Edward E. Clark, the Libertarian Party's 1980 presidential
candidate, declared to Ted Koppel on Nightline that libertarianism
is low-tax liberalism has the party's national spokesman made
such an embarrassing faux pas. It is little short of incredible
that a man who presumes to speak for the party of peace and liberty
has the gall to go on national television and call for the murder
of foreign leaders. In a letter to me, he asked how I, a professed
libertarian, could support Pat Buchanan over him:
your June 5 column, you say: 'So, today, with Buchanan the only
candidate who would stop the murderous war on Iraq, on those grounds
alone he is the one possible choice for antiwar activists of the
left as well as the right.' This doesn't happen to be the case.
I am for total non-intervention even more so than Buchanan is.
He finds American interests in some intervention; I find it in
DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU MEAN BY "INTERVENTION". . . .
if assassinating foreign heads of state isn't "intervention,"
Harry, then what the hell is? This is precisely why the
rest of the world hates us, and justly so: because even the nice
Americans, like Harry Browne really a well-meaning kind
of guy, quite likable if a trifle slow have the supreme
arrogance to see themselves as naturally wielding the power of
life and death over the rest of humanity. That this role should
properly fall to Americans is not questioned even by the presidential
candidate of a party that calls itself "Libertarian." And that
is why I am not supporting Harry Browne, or any Libertarian Party
candidate this year, or ever again because they are flakes,
one and all, who know nothing about the application of
libertarian principles to real-world events. There are many good
rank-and-file LPers, especially among the libertarian youth, but
the aging and opportunistic leaders of the party are so pathetically
eager to be liked that they will literally say anything to please
a schmuck like Bill Maher and his nightly salon of third-rate
Hollywood hangers-on and has-beens even that the US ought
to go on yet another international murder spree.
I want to know is this: whom would you have killed, Harry?
Having made your "let's assassinate the bad guys" proposal, you
owe it to your supporters and potential supporters to make public
your list of foreign leaders slated for death. We know you've
got Saddam Hussein in your sights, and probably Milosevic
but who else merits such "noninterventionist" treatment?
How about the leaders of Communist China? And what about Putin
isn't he getting a little too big for his britches? I'll
bet even wily old Fidel Castro, who survived dozens of assassination
attempts by the US government, wouldn't get to breathe any easier
once you move into the White House, Harry: by privatizing the
assassination industry, I'm sure you'll succeed where others have
failed. Leave it to the "Libertarians" to come up with a "free
market" way to knock off any and every foreign leader who dares
to stand up to Washington. In the name of truth in advertising,
however, they really ought to consider changing their name to
something like the Useful Idiots. . .
Buchanan over Browne? Because Buchanan would never kowtow
to the likes of that slimeball Maher or accept the premise
of the Maher-Browne contention that Americans ought to go around
deciding who shall live and who shall die. No amount of applause
from Maher's ditzy West Hollywood audience, or hectoring from
the host, would blind Buchanan to the ominous moral, military,
and national security implications of such dangerous arrogance.
He would want to know: What are we doing running around the
world gunning down the leaders of foreign countries who never
attacked us? The violation of a nation's sovereignty is appalling
to Buchanan, but hardly a crime in Browne's book.
all, the Libertarian Party advocates effectively erasing US borders,
opening them up not only to free trade but also to unlimited immigration,
a position he touts in his letter to me. What does it matter if
a country's sovereignty is violated? I have dealt with the inadequacies
of the Libertarian Party as currently constituted in a
previous column. However, Browne's appearance on the Maher
show not only confirms my prognosis of the LP but also brings
fresh evidence of its ongoing degeneration into an organization
that bears almost no resemblance to the principled party of the
past. Always sadly lacking in the vital realm of foreign policy
where context and facts are everything, and safe-sounding
bromides won't get you very far the Libertarian Party is
now reduced to calling for a US-led worldwide jihad against
any foreign leaders our chief executive deems objectionable. That
this will all be done via the "private sector," using market methods
to carry out a policy of ruthless aggression, somehow makes it
okay. Has a more lame-brained idea ever come out of the mouth
of a Libertarian Party presidential candidate?
1980, at the height of the LP's prominence and voter appeal, if
Ed Clark had dared to declare that certain foreign leaders needed
to be knocked off at the instigation of a US President, the party
leaders and policy wonks would have had his head on a plate. At
the very least they would have demanded a retraction, albeit one
composed in the form of a "clarification." Today, with the ideological
savy and knowledge of the LP rank-and-file worse than ever
and that is saying a lot! I'll bet there isn't even a peep
out of the brain-dead envelope stuffers and contributors . . .
to say nothing of the burnt-out and cynical cadre, whose only
real ideology is careerism. The LP is as desperate for votes as
Browne was desperate for Maher's approval, but this is a new low.
While the LP has been pushing a crude lowest-common-denominator
form of pared down "libertarianism" and relying on some rather
ambiguous sloganeering, the party and its presidential candidates
have always adhered to a formal orthodoxy. But Browne's plan to
get rid of Saddam Hussein and the leaders of other alleged "rogue
states" is the first sign of open sellout since 1980. While Ed
Clark thought he could sell libertarianism as "low-tax liberalism,"
Browne apparently believes he can market it as low-tax jingoism.