A Potential Libertarian Presidential Candidate

Thomas Knapp just wrote a good analysis about a potential Libertarian Party presidential candidate I could get excited about: Karen Kwiatkowski. Anyone interested in LP politics will have to read the whole thing. Here’s the beginning:

Since at least as far back as 2004, when she spoke at the Libertarian Party’s national convention, Karen Kwiatkowski (Lt. Colonel, USAF, Ret.), has been frequently mentioned as a prospective 2008 LP presidential candidate. By virtue of the lack of binding primaries and caucuses that get other parties’ candidates out on the stump and under the microscope early, it becomes especially necessary for Libertarians to do a little digging. I’ve been doing “the basic look-see” on Kwiatkowski. Time to share my findings and conclusions:

Assuming she enters the race, and barring the entry of a former US Representative, US Senator, governor or senior executive branch or military official in the race, the LP is unlikely to see a more qualified prospective nominee than Karen Kwiatkowsi. This is not an endorsement (yet) — just a statement of things as I see them.

Kwiatkowski has three degrees, two of them in public policy areas: An MA in Government from Harvard and a Ph.D. in World Politics from Catholic University. Her third degree is an MS in Science Management from the University of Alaska. She authored two books on foreign policy before she became a public figure, both of them published by institutional military presses.

Kwiatkowski was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Air Force in 1978 and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel with 25 years of military service. During her career, she served in Alaska providing “logistical support for missions along the Russian and Chinese coasts;” did tours of duty in Spain and Italy; worked at the National Security Agency where she apparently did public affairs work (including speechwriting for the director of NSA); then served at the Pentagon, first in sub-Saharan African policy and at the end of her career at the Near East/Central Asia desk.

In his critique, Knapp brought up one point with which I disagree and missed one which surprised me a bit:

Kwiatkowski is not a “perfect” candidate. It would be nice if she’d made full colonel or even picked up a general’s star, or served on the National Security Council…

The Oliver North for Senate campaign is one of the case studies Knapp and I use in our campaign management course. While North lost his bid for Senate, the Lt. Colonel rank was clearly not detrimental (I worked on that campaign when I was a misguided Repubican) in his race. If Kwiatkowski could raise money (or emulate other campaign activites) like the North campaign did, she’d actually have a shot at the White House.

The point Tom missed was Karen’s last name. Considering there’s a chapter in our text (unfortunately this one is not on the Internet) on the topic of cumbersome last names and the last candidate we mutually worked was for a guy named Badnarik, I’d have thought he’d have made some comment about that. Good thing I don’t grade his papers in class.

Knapp brought up other minor potential negatives, but in general his review was glowing. My perception is the same. I haven’t talked to Kwiatkowski in a couple of years, but I think it’s time to give her a phone call to see what’s up.

posted by Stephen Gordon
  • paulie cannoli

    Kwiatkowski would be an excellent choice.

    As for Ollie North, he took the fall for a lot of stuff that was coming out of the Vice President’s office.

    VP Bush was head of the South Florida Counter-Narcotics, Middle East Terrorism and Central America taskforces. All roads in the Iran-Contra affair led to the VP’s desk.

  • http://knappster.blogspot.com Thomas L. Knapp

    Steve,

    I didn’t say it was “bad” that Kwiatkowski retired as a short colonel. I just said it would be better if she’d made colonel or brigadier. And I actually had North in mind when I mentioned NSC.

    On the other hand, Lt. Colonel may be a pretty good rank to throw around because of North: His high public profile during Iran-Contra featured that rank as key in an American foreign policy affair, which will blunt the criticism that she was “just” a Lt. Colonel.

    I didn’t go into her name because that’s something to consider in campaign strategy, not a credential for, or a disqualification from, running her in the first place (I don’t think it will play much one either way in the LP’s rarefied nomination process). I’ve done some thinking about it, though. There’s always the “emphasize the first name” dodge, or “emphasize a big letter K.” I wouldn’t want to go with a “KK” theme, though, as the temptation to add a third would be irresistible to her less savory detractors.

  • Andy

    Karen Kwiatkowski has a radio program on The Republic Broadcasting Network. You can listen to it on-line. I’ve listened to it over my cell phone via FlipSideRadio via Radio Free Austin. Radio Free Austin is an independent radio station in Austin, Texas that carries all day freedom/patriot type of stuff. I think that most of their programming comes from The Genisis Communications Network (GCN) which carries Alex Jones, Jack Blood, and other good stuff (used to carry Harry Browne’s show until he passed away; I think that Jim Babka has his spot now) and Republic Broadcasting. Anyway, go to http://www.RadioFreeAustin.org to find out how to sign up to listen over the net or over you cell phone. There is no charge but if you listen over your cell phone make sure you call when you are on unlimited minutes or else your cell phone company will charge you for the minutes used.

    Here’s a link to the program line up for Republic Broadcasting.

    http://www.rbnlive.com/programs.htm

  • Andy

    Karen Kwiatkowski has a radio program on The Republic Broadcasting Network. You can listen to it on-line. I’ve listened to it over my cell phone via FlipSideRadio via Radio Free Austin. Radio Free Austin is an independent radio station in Austin, Texas that carries all day freedom/patriot type of stuff. I think that most of their programming comes from The Genisis Communications Network (GCN) which carries Alex Jones, Jack Blood, and other good stuff (used to carry Harry Browne’s show until he passed away; I think that Jim Babka has his spot now) and Republic Broadcasting. Anyway, go to http://www.RadioFreeAustin.org to find out how to sign up to listen over the net or over you cell phone. There is no charge but if you listen over your cell phone make sure you call when you are on unlimited minutes or else your cell phone company will charge you for the minutes used.

    Here’s a link to the program line up for Republic Broadcasting.

    http://www.rbnlive.com/programs.html

  • Andy

    There’s a guy named Marc Stevens that has got a show on The Republic Broadcasting Network that a lot of people here would like. It’s called “The No State Project.” Marc Stevens is an anarchist-libertarian. Scroll down after you click the link for more information.

    http://www.rbnlive.com/programs.html

  • http://libertarianyouth.blogspot.com Nigel Watt

    How is Kwiatkowski pronounced, by the way? Quiet-COW-ski?

  • Terry

    I mentioned this on Knapp’s FMNN article but how about Dr. Mary Ruwart and Karen running as a team. Dr. Ruwart is pretty good on domestic issues and she seems to be able to communicate to others very well. Karen would bring some credibility to the foreign policy issues. It might also get us some attention for running two women as President/Vice President.

    Just a thought!

  • kaptinemo

    As a former enlisted man who has been a libertarian all his life and a Libertarian politically for 26 years, I have no reluctance at all in supporting Ms. Kwiatkowski for a political office of any level. Although I do not know her personally and in all likelihood never will meet her, from her writings it’s plain that she possesses more than a firm grasp of the basic tenets, not only of libertarianism, but the traditional role of the military, i.e NOT ‘nation building’, NOT ‘spreading democracy’, NOT being the cat’s-paw for commercial interests, but defense Period. She understands the limits of Constitutional power…and has seen first hand how it can be subborned, with tragic results.

    This country sorely needs people like her in office, not these panty-waisted chickenhawks who wouldn’t make a pimple on a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine’s backside. Oo-rah! for Colonel K, she’s got my vote already.

  • http://www.pnar.org Tom Blanton

    Karen Kwiatkowski would be an excellent choice for the LP. I don’t really know her but have talked with her a couple of times. She came down to Richmond from her home in Shenandoah in February to speak to a group of Libertarians and gave a wonderful talk. I suspect I will see her in Charlottesville in a couple of weeks at our state convention and I could throw out the idea.

    I was surprised at how few Virginia Libertarians know who Karen is and I was somewhat dismayed at the negative reaction she got by some in the disgruntled conservative wing of the LP. Although I find her to be a strong libertarian and not at all radical, I imagine many of the reformers and Boortz followers would not support Karen. However, I think she would do well in the LP on the national level.

    Karen might not be the “perfect candidate”, but she would be damn good and I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather see run. A Kwiatkowski/Ruwart ticket would really be incredible.

  • Ken Hamilton

    I have been extremely impressed with Ms. Kwiatkowski’s columns and with her interview on C-SPAN last Sunday night on “Q&A”( http://www.q-and-a.org/Program/?ProgramID=1069 ). She would definitely receive my vote if the Libertarian Party nominates her for president in 2008.

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  • Lonnie Brantley

    Ok, I wont claim credit for first thinking about her as a candidate for Prez two years ago. Thing is, I am not affiliated with the LP. I was thinking independent all the way! Very good idea, guys.
    Her name is pronounced K’towski. Saw her on a cable interview early last year.