Alans moment draws near

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Alan’s moment draws near!

According to Reuters, Illinois Republicans have narrowed their choice of senate candidates to oppose Barack Obama to two. And one of those two is Alan Keyes. The other is a former deputy drug czar for demand reduction named Andrea Barthwell, who resigned early last month to consider a senate run.

Like Keyes’, Barthwell’s possible nomination would seem to indicate that the Illinois GOP is encountering some difficulty finding first-tier candidates to oppose Mr. Obama. During her brief stint at the drug czar’s office one of her most noteworthy accomplishments seems to have been getting written up in a “hostile workplace memorandum” for “lewd and abusive behavior.”

In the words of the Associated Press, “In front of her staff, Andrea Grubb Barthwell made repeated comments about the sexual orientation of a staff member and used a kaleidoscope to make sexually offensive gestures …”

The staffer in question later told the investigator that he found her comments “lewd, derogatory and called into question his heterosexuality.”

A kaleidoscope, you ask?

Thus the AP

The lewd and abusive behavior finding stemmed from a Dec. 19, 2002, staff gathering. Barthwell made comments about a staff member’s sexual orientation after the staff member misspoke in an earlier conversation, the memorandum said.

“Dr. Barthwell made reference to this staff member sitting on men’s laps. A kaleidoscope pointed upward was placed on a chair by Dr. Barthwell as the staff member was about to sit down,” it said.

“Dr. Barthwell suggested that the staff member would want to cut the cake available for the gathering because the knife was ‘long and hard’ and he might ‘enjoy handling it.’ When the cake was cut, Dr. Barthwell referred to the pieces as ‘most’ or ‘beefy’ and she said to the staff member, ‘I know you like it big and meaty.'”

Notwithstanding the strong social skills one might infer from that anecdote, the report also said that Barthwell’s staff “almost uniformly stated their fear and discomfort with what they consider to be unusual behavior patterns and displays of temper.”

In a short interview, Barthwell told the AP that the incident shouldn’t be a factor in her candidacy. “I think it’s something that was in the past, something we dealt with and it was resolved to everyone’s satisfaction,” she said.

So that’s Barthwell.

Say what you will about Alan Keyes, I think we can be confident that when he starts saying unfortunate things about homosexuality he’ll drive home his point with Aristotle and ‘natural law’ rather than kaleidoscopes.

Given all this, besides the fact that he’s completely crazy, I think Keyes might likely be a less embarrassing figure to have in the senate than Barthwell. The man is not without his engaging qualities, after all, as one quickly realized reading Michael Lewis’ masterful coverage of the 1996 presidential primary campaign in The New Republic.

You also didn’t need to see Keyes diving into a portable mosh pit (set up by an as-yet-pre-iconic Michael Moore after a Republican presidential debate in 2000) and crowd surfing to the sounds of Rage Against the Machine to know that Keyes would probably be quite a guy to party with so long as the festivities were conducted in accordance with the laws of nature and nature’s god.

In a classic Keyes’ comment, both inane and inspired, he later defended the mosh pit episode, in the face of Gary Bauer’s criticisms at the 2000 New Hampshire debate, as an … well, it really deserves to be quoted in full …

Admittedly, I was willing to fall into the mosh pit. But I’ll tell you something. Do you know why I did that? Because I think that exemplifies the kind of trust in people that is the heart and soul of the Keyes campaign. It’s about time we got back to the understanding that we trust the people of this country to do what is decent. And when you trust them, they will in fact hold you up – whether it is in terms of giving help to you when you are falling down, or caring for their own children.

So I thought that as an emblem of that trust, it was the right thing to do. And anyway, my daughter thought it was a good idea.

How can you not love the guy a little after reading that? Whackjob or not …

In any case, with such politically viable options to choose from, you might think the Illinois Republican bosses would pick someone without so much baggage, like Jack Ryan, for instance. But according to Reuters, they’ll crown either Keyes or Barthwell during their conclave tomorrow.

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