Comedian Doug Stanhope Announces 2008 Presidential Campaign… As a Libertarian

Doug Stanhope, Penn & Teller, fat elvis guyDoug Stanhope, a comic with an impressive background of television appearances and a flair for media attention, has announced via MySpace (how apt) that he is seeking the 2008 Libertarian Presidential nomination:

No, it isnt a joke – although I’ll certainly make it funny along the way.

We are going to fight these cocksuckers on fields they never realized existed. Trust me. Its going to be a long run and we have unprecedented plans that will slowly come out between now and the election.

This could be the most entertaining run at office in history.

Absolutely right. I think this party has always been the haven for comedians and common sense joke slingers and this is exactly the kind of candidate we should be running to shake things up. He’s created a second MySpace profile — stanhope08 — just for the campaign, with hilarious views on politics. I really love his proposal to make election day a national holiday (what better way to get out the vote?):

Who has the day off? Old people. Old and bitter people of means who sit in gated communities terrified of anything new because it reminds them that they will be dead soon. They sit behind the curtains and call the police every time a dog barks or your car stereo is loud.

And they vote. They vote in droves like as though legislation can make them young again. They listen to talk radio and the fear-mongering press and they vote for everything safe and secure and against anything you enjoy while you are stuck at work and just trying to get laid and have fun.

I will make Election Day a national holiday. In fact, I will declare Election Day a national holiday right now. Never work on Election Day no matter what you do or whether or not you vote. Make a show of it. You don’t need a president to tell you to call in sick that day or simply not show up. I’ll just make it official on principle.

2008 is still a ways off, but you can bet I’m sending my resume and pledge of support now.

Update: I spoke to Stanhope and he’s agreed to answer any questions we throw at him about his campaign, his blend of brash libertarianism, how many freckles are on his ass, etc… (Hammer of Truth exclusive, natch), so stay tuned for an open thread in a couple days that where you can post them and he’ll be responding later in the week.

64 Comments
  1. I spoke with Doug today, he’s going to be coming on Free Talk Live to announce his campaign once his website is a little better looking.

    I think this is great news for the LP.

    (He told me that he tried to get Penn Jillette to run with him, but no dice. C’mon Penn!)

  2. I don’t mean to be pessimistic, but can you see this guy really following through on this? It’s one thing to announce a Presidential campaign. It’s a helluva different thing to actually run for President.

  3. Austin Cassidy: I think he’s crazy enough to pull it off. So yeah, I think he’ll follow through. :)

    I sent him an email asking him if he’d participate in a Hammer of Truth open questions forum here, so in all likelyhood he may drop by and answer your question directly.

  4. Steve Perkins: You’ll get a chance to ask him yourself this week, he’s accepted our Q&A request (hold off until I post the official thread plz).

  5. Making America Fun Again, that sounds great!

    About the Election Day Holiday, well, as long as it’s not a paid holiday fine. Last thing we need is another paid holiday for government employees.

  6. The real question is whether or not the LP is smart enough to nominate him… they did pick Badnarik over Russo after all.

  7. Doug Stanhope might be just the guy that could get a lot of young people and people who don’t vote to take a look at the LP (and also get registered and actually vote).

    I would prefer to see Karen Kwiatkowski get the LP nomination – but she is apparently not interested in the top slot (the possibility of VP candidate exists).

    I would advise Mr. Stanhope to start campaigning now and meet with as many state and local LP groups as possible so that he can build grassroots support. I think he is already
    getting people to look at the LP.

    I’d like to hear what his views are, but if he’s got the right stuff and he is not a raging moderate neolibertarian, I’m on the band wagon. This could be more fun than drawing Hitler mustaches on Bush posters!

  8. As Mike Nelson points out, the LP was smart enough to pick the best candidate available in 04… I’m sure it’ll pick the best candidate available in 08 as well.

  9. Stanhope can be plenty entertaining, but will he be presidential enough to not be a liability to us in states like Indiana? We’ve done a lot of hard work here to establish ourselves as a real political party, and not the home for Howard Stern or some other throw-away gag candidacies. Using a word like ‘cocksucker’ in the context of comedy is one thing, but using it in the context of running for POTUS is poor judgment enough to ensure that his candidacy is plenty damaging to us here in Indiana.

  10. If Mr. Stanhope is serious, he is welcome. But the LP does not need someone whose campaign consists of one liners constructed largely of four-letter words. (That is not a dig at Mr. Stanhope…until today I didn’t know who he was. It is a statement of fact.)

    The LP needs a candidate with some gravity, someone who all age groups, ethnicities, etc. would view as actual Predidential material. If Mr. Stanhope can be that man, I would have no trouble supporting him.

    What we don’t need is a national Kinky Friedman.

  11. Presidential enough? What does that mean?

    Harry Browne was very presidential. It didn’t do much to get him votes, because he was ignored. (Not a shot against Harry, he was awesome.)

    Doug Stanhope is a celebrity. Not a huge celeb, but bigger than anything the party has ever seen for any canidacy. Stanhope is connected with other celebs like Penn Jillette, which makes it more likely he’ll get more coverage.

    I believe he’s serious. You have to be serious to join the Free State Project, and Doug is a member.

  12. Well, I mean, to say that what we don’t need is the potential exposure that the party would get from running this sort of candidate, I have to disagree. Doug Stanhope already has a huge PR machine behind him, he works pretty steadity. He would have to really clean up his act, but he has the sort of connections to pull off a “third party candidate debate: hosted by the daily show” or somthing to that effect, which if he performd well in, and was serious about, could be the sort of thing which could force the “powers that be” to allow libertarians into the major national debates. He also has connections in various aspects of showbusiness, which helps get massive quanitities of “earned” media. As long as he can be serious, he could pull off a run for national office, and would definitely get a lot of exposure for the party.

  13. Mike: Maybe you should start working in words like “cocksucker” during libertarian events
    and in libertarian publications in Indiana to
    condition people just in case Stanhope wins
    the nomination.

    Throw in a couple of m____r f_____rs, so that
    cocksucker will seem mainstream.

  14. (He told me that he tried to get Penn Jillette to run with him, but no dice. C’mon Penn!)

    Maybe Doug should ask Chief Wana Dubie to to run with him.

    I am still supporting Phillies and will continue to do so.

  15. WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU PEOPLE **TALKING** ABOUT?!?

    “Any publicity is good publicity” is NOT a strategy appropriate for any organization seeking long-term viability. In 2000 the Reform Party gave their nomination to Pat Buchanan, who was hardly from the Perot mold, because they felt he would be “good for media attention”. Today, that party for all practical purposes no longer exists… and they got exactly what they deserved.

    At least Pat Buchanan had SOME credible connection to politics and government. A comic is just a sure-fire way to trash whatever credibility you have. I would be pissed if the LP seriously considered nominating Howard Stern, who at least is a real celebrity. However, a D-list entertainer from “Girls Gone Wild”, who NO ONE here had heard of 24 hours ago, and who’s announcement (on MySpace no less, references “cocksuckers”)?!?!?

    (cont.)

  16. I have little doubt that this guy’s Libertarian beliefs are legit, and he probably even has a driver’s licence and a ZIP code to boot. However, my gut feel is that any “candidacy” for the nomination would be primarily a P.R. move to boost his name recognition for his “day job” career. I’m cool with that… lots of political types tease candidacies as a means of jacking up their book sales or public speaking fees, and it could be a harmless and humorous diversion.

    However, what flips me out is the reaction on here from a few folks. My gut feel is that this is a rib of some kind, and people are playing along for laughs (God, I hope).

  17. You people disgust me. Seriously. This is someone that has the capability to get the message out to the masses like no other Presidential candidate in the past, and you sit on here crying about whether or not he will say “cocksucker” or whether he will appear “legit”??? Fuck you.

  18. Wow Mike, you so eloquently proved the opposite point. Any candidate who swears so freely in public communications and even insults Jesus in his opening announcement is far too stoooopid to run for President. It’s not like you have to believe in Jesus to be credible, but knowing that fully 7/8ths of the voters self-identify as Christians, it’s really dumb to go out of your way to insult them right out of the box. We need to run candidates who are fit to serve in office. We already have the “too stoned to remember to go out and vote” crowd, and he won’t win us anybody else. Stanhope’s announcement is a joke – and not the haha kind of funny either – and anybody who is excited about this prospect is even dumber and more self-absorbed than he is.

  19. Doug Stanhope is running whether we want him to or not. All the people who don’t want him to run can do is vote against him at the 2008 convention and/or recruit a better candidate to oppose him.

    His candidacy can be good or bad for the LP. It depends what we make of it. I prefer to look at it is an opportunity. He’s certain to attract media attention and inquiries to the LP. We need to channel them into positive growth for the party.

    I’m not sure yet whether this is a lemon, but even if it is we can still make lemonade.

  20. Chuck, I love your optimism. But I would say it can only be bad or worse for the LP. Hey LRC man, you think radical stands in our platform can hurt our county commissioner candidates? I’ll bet they’ll *really* enjoy fielding questions about Stanhope on the radio.

    I have calmed down a bit. He is a comedian after all, just trying to do his job even if I didn’t laugh at this joke. And he did succeed at his other goal – I now know who he is. He’s probably a great guy, and I’m glad he is on our side.

    I realized what offended me even more than the Jesus quip itself is the implication in it that voters are stupid. Anybody who is so arrogant as to openly say this has automatically forfeited the public trust. Or at least mine.

    Even though it is self-absorbed – this campaign can only help Stanhope, not the party – that’s not what annoys me. What annoys me is supposedly intelligent people seriously supporting the notion. Which I guess means the joke worked.

  21. What is the definition of insanity again? Let’s just keep doing what we have always done… that’ll get us elected!

  22. If Mr. Stanhope is serious, he is welcome. But the LP does not need someone whose campaign consists of one liners constructed largely of four-letter words. (That is not a dig at Mr. Stanhope”¦until today I didn’t know who he was. It is a statement of fact.)

    The LP needs a candidate with some gravity, someone who all age groups, ethnicities, etc. would view as actual Predidential material. If Mr. Stanhope can be that man, I would have no trouble supporting him.

    What we don’t need is a national Kinky Friedman.

    In a word, bullshit.

    Kinky Friedman is currently polling second behind the incumbent governor, with the other independent and the Democrat polling third and fourth, respectively.

    A national Kinky Friedman is exactly what we need. If Doug Stanhope shapes up to be that guy, then he’ll have my wholehearted support.

    It’s not like we can get less votes than the second Browne campaign or the Badnarik campaign.

  23. I am glad Doug has announced his candidacy. He is not an ideal candidate but we will have to see who else jumps into the contest and see who can raise the most support. I think he has already made this process much more interesting (and entertaining.) This is a nice development.

  24. Had a pool party today. Mike didn’t make it, but Elle did. We talked about Stanhope. We agree that he is funny and that he would bring media attention. But I don’t see him as a serious candidate. Just because libertarians can deal with a candid viewpoint doesn’t mean the rest of the world can. And the position of POTUS is definitely something that continues to be world interest. I am going to see Stanhope with Elle when he comes to Dallas again. I will have to see what the Libertarian Party has to offer before I give him political support.

  25. Kinky Friedman is currently polling second behind the incumbent governor, with the other independent and the Democrat polling third and fourth, respectively.

    Check out this poll (bottom of page):

    http://www.texasmonthly.com/

  26. Mike, I registered for TXmonthly just to let them know that there are 5 candidate for governor of TX. I also sent a letter to DMN. The calculated exclusion of Libertarian candidate is irresponsible at best, dishonest at worst.

  27. If you think Doug Stanhope is comparable to Kinky Friedman, you are off your nut. Kinky is superfamous and much beloved in Texas, a national icon long before his campaign. It’s just as relevant to compare Stanhope to William Henry Harrison.

    I’m not against a nontraditional campaign, not in the slightest. The obvious counterexample, Penn Jillette, would be a *great* candidate – much more famous, already well-developed common sense stances on issues, can get through a public appearance without swearing. Too bad he already has a much better gig than POTUS.

    Now, Doug *might* be a great candidate for one of my dreams: the Fuck You! Party. “Want to send Washington a message? Vote Fuck You!” Now *that* would get a lot of votes.

  28. This news has to be put into perspective. As Chuck said, he’s running whether we want him to or not. Now, unlike some others here, I’ve actually listened to his standup act. While his standup could seem libertine at times, I believe he ultimately makes it clear in his comedy that people need to start taking responsibility for themselves and that people need to take a step back and assess how free they really are in the good ole US of A.

    I think he’d be able to put the growing destruction of liberty into a perspective that could entice the largely a-political and politically uneducated out there to vote. We need those people in our party. We need the middle class family that could give 2 shits if the government were reduced by half its size. We need the people who have been fucked by the system. We need the people, in short, that no libertarian intellectual could frankly, relate to.

    (cont.)…

  29. …(cont.)

    Obviously, there are cons to any presidential candidate running. But why can’t there be a compromise? Have Stanhope run and get the exposure, pool his resources, Joe Rogan, Penn Jilette, and any other celebrity type out there that hasn’t come forward because they didn’t have the cojones to do so. Then have Stanhope announce he’s handing his candidacy over to a Jim Gray type when the initial walls have been broken down. Problem solved. Everybody’s happy.

    I uploaded Track 27 from his “Dead Beat Hero” CD. Check it out… Titled, “Free country”?

    http://rapidshare.de/files/26701535/Free_country.mp3.html

    Listen to that and then tell me he doesn’t share the same love of liberty as we all do. You wanna be PC, that’s fine. But we have to break the walls down first, and it’s not going to happen fast enough Mr. Haugh (unfortunately)…especially after hearing of the news in your recent court ruling.

  30. I agree entirely with Sean.

    If the LP is to be a radical protest organization, then running someone like Stanhope would be appropriate. Through in a Playboy bunny for a running mate.

    If we are to be a real political party, then we need to run candidates who could potentially govern. Qualifications for president in descending order:

    1. Emotionally and mentally stable enough to be near The Button.
    2. Diplomatic.
    3. Has experience running a LARGE organization.
    4. Some knowledge of history and current events.
    5. Ideologically sound (buffered by ample common sense).

    I do not believe that the LP has ever run anyone for president who meets these qualifications. Our vote totals reflect this fact.

  31. The thought of Stanhope in ’08 get’s me all excited!
    Whether you like him or not, it will be awesome to see what he does with his campaign. Whether more straight-laced folks realize it or not he is living the way he wants and not whining or asking for handouts. As libertarians we shouldn’t be judging his lifestyle or choice of words. Sure he has probably offended folks with his comedy routines – but it is all in jest, and people LOVE comedy.

    And, at the risk of sounding totally retarded – I think he is attractive. It would be so cool to vote for a hot guy that can make me laugh and accepts libertarian values! My husband happens to fit that criteria and I find it quite appealing.

    Michelle and I can be “Libertarian Chics on Trampolines”
    heh heh

  32. Having been a Libertarian candidate three times and currently holding a nonpartisan public office (city councilor), I have some advice for L candidates who get asked about a Stanhope candidacy during, for example, a candidate’s forum or a newspaper interview.

    Sample response: “This whole political scene is easier to handle if I keep a sense of humor about it.”

  33. “Our vote totals reflect this fact.”

    No Carl, Libertarian vote totals reflect the fact that LP candidates receive little to no media attention and spend 1/100th of the money that R’s and D’s spend.

    I think Kinky Friedman is a good model. He IS serious, but he brings a humor into everything that MANY people can relate to. I would bet money (not a lot) that he wins the TX governors election because he mobilizes people who normally do not vote.

    The LP will not win the presidency in 2008. What’s wrong with having a candidate that can reach and engage a young audience that has never voted before. It’s not like he would actually have to govern. And even if he did win, I’d rather have Stanhope than Hillary Clinton. Going after annoyed Republicans is a BAD strategy, and it is exactly what many who supposedly know how to “do real politics” keep advocating.

    If you don’t like Stanhope, then recruit another candidate who has all the qualifications you think are necessary.

  34. There are many states in which a cussing POTUS candidate would be good for the LP affiliate. I imagine the prime real estate for such a candidate is where the state afilliate is foundering, and there isn’t a deep pool of activists. Indiana just happens not to be one of them.

    I am sure that there are many others like Indiana, where a cussing candidate would merely undo the hard work that was done by many serious candidates and activists who worked hard to be credible and taken seriously and to build the reputation of the Libertarian Party as the party with the best policy ideas. We’re gaining ground doing just that in Indiana. A Stanhope candidacy, as I see it being presented thus far, would set the LPIN back about 20 years.

  35. The way I see it, we need a celebrity like Stanhope on the front burner as an attention/media lightning rod, and a more reserved policy-type with credibility out the ass as the veep.

    In a nutshell: Balance.

  36. Stephen, if we are goign to run a celebrity, maybe we could find someone people have actually heard of? I think I’m a pretty decent barometer – I watch a lot of comedy central even, and this is the first time I connected his name to anything he’s done.

    Now Kinky Friedman, that’s a real celebrity. A notional icon, even. You might as well compare Stanhope to William Henry Harrison. It’s just as relevant.

    I’d be fine with a celebrity and/or a nontraditional campaign. But an e-list comedian who needs to swear and insult people to say anything isn’t enough.

  37. Sean Haugh: I honestly didn’t know who the fuck Kinky was until he ran for gov. But there’s one thing any celebrity candidate has and Stanhope seems to have it to… ties to other celebrities.

    If you don’t like him, feel free to re-nominate the computer guy from Austin no one had ever heard of (and most likely still haven’t).

  38. Stephen, that is a good point I hadn’t considered, ties to other celebs. Not that it helped Aaron Russo, but if it materializes it is an asset.

    You don’t live in Texas, so your prior knowledge of Kinky is irrelevant. Just like it really doesn’t matter if you’ve ever heard of Ami Onuki or Yumi Yoshimura, but if you lived in Japan hell yes you would know everything about them whether you liked them or not. Or like why I will never say anything bad about JC Watts because he still is the best option QB we ever had at OU. ;-)

    Thnaks for bringing up Badnarik. We nominated him *precisely* because he looked best on TV during the debate in Atlanta. That’s what Libertarian delegates are looking for. I think they are very smart to do so.

    By the way, I wrote about this at more length on my blog. And if you see this, my tech question has abated but I still have useful data for you if you want it. Thanks.

  39. Sean – I live in Texas and hadn’t heard of Kinky prior to him running for governor either. Your assertion that he is some sort of “super celebrity” is just as irrelevant as your assertion that Doug is not.

    Mike Kole – Has George Bush ever cused publicly?

  40. “Thnaks for bringing up Badnarik. We nominated him *precisely* because he looked best on TV during the debate in Atlanta. That’s what Libertarian delegates are looking for. I think they are very smart to do so.”

    Sean – you do know how many votes and how much media attention Badnarik received, don’t you? I do believe the choice sucked ass.

  41. Kinky Friedman was a regular guest on Imus in the Morning years ago. He has been dipping his toe into the political lake for a long time.

    Badnarik may not have given us a flood of publicity, but he didn’t hurt us. Gary Nolan HURT my county badly with his abrasive style.

  42. Mike, what better choice was there? You need to have a better one available before you can say it was a bad one.

    I also find it telling that the *first* line of defense against doubters is “fuck you” and other random insults (ususally assuming everyone has male gentitalia). Proof there is no substance on which to base a counterargument? Or just proof that this campaign only appeals to teenage boys? I’m open to a better argument but so far the supporters seem incapable of presenting one.

    There’s an easy way to measure celebrity – name recognition polling. Mike, get on your nearest public transportation and ask the first 50 people you see if they had heard of Kinky before he ran for Gov. Then ask them who Doug is. If you get 5 who both can tell you who Doug is and are willing to admit it to a stranger on the bus, I’ll be stunned but will accept it as evidence I may be wrong.

    Libertarians need to shed this weird notion that what’s inside their heads is inside everybody’s.

  43. I’m even willing to suggest a potentially winning counterargument – convince me how a “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” campaign could get us more votes and popularity than we have now. Hint: you need something more than “telling jack-off jokes for free drinks” or calling people you don’t like bitter old c*s*ing m*f*s.

    One essential ingredient in a successful celebrity campaign is love. You gotta love people and people gotta love you. Even Carlos Mencia could score serious points on that scale. So tell me, how can Doug generate that kind of love to and from the voters?

  44. So this is the kind of serious politics that some of the “reformers” wanted to engage in?

  45. I’m not sure why people are casting Doug Stanhope as the reformers candidate when Carl Milstead (founder of the Libertarian Reform Caucus) has repeatedly criticized his candidacy (see comment 40).

    Not every internal LP issue can be defined on a reformer/purist line. People are more nuanced than that. Both reformers and purists seem divided on particular candidacies like Doug Stanhope’s.

  46. Chuck, that is why I didn’t characterize this as something that all of the reform folks wanted. But it is apparent that at least some of them think this guy is the best thing since the Statue of Liberty. Not that purist candidates have always been the greatest ever, for that matter.

  47. I think Doug Stanhope would make a good candidate to get some publicity. He can certainly reach out to the younger crowd, or those people who have no political affiliation.

    It’s good that he has:
    1) Modest name recognition.
    2) Blunt, yet entertaining answers to questions.
    3) Knowledge about different parts of America, since he’s traveled across this country.
    4) Connections in the media, like radio, cable, the web.

    Here are some obvious negatives:
    1) The language is probably a bit foul
    2) He may not have all the answers to tough policy questions
    3) He will turn off a lot of the soccer moms, elderly, and politically correct, which is a lot of people.
    4) He doesn’t help the LP reputation as much as a libertarian celebrity like Clint Eastwood, Russel Means, or maybe Tom Selleck.

    If Doug can clean up a bit, raise some funds, convince me he knows the issues (which I’m not sure he’s there yet), then MAYBE, just MAYBE he could be ready. We’ll see…

  48. 3) He will turn off a lot of the soccer moms, elderly, and politically correct, which is a lot of people.

    Do you really think those people would vote for ANY Libertarian candidate? We should be targeting the politically homeless, not those dead-set in their beliefs and affiliation.

  49. Yes, we should go after soccor moms and explain why the “War On Drugs” is actually very harmful to children. When drugs are on a black market it creates gangs of young people.

    We shouldn’t write off the elderly. We should explain to them that if they want to see their children grow up with the same or better opportunties, the government must not go into debt, and must not raise taxes to support costly government programs, which have only driven up prices on healthcare.

    I believe we can go after the politically correct too. In a sense it’s just being polite to others. To drop an F-Bomb or swear could be replaced by other language that will get the point across.

    We don’t need to be shocking to get this message of liberty out in front of voters. Aaron Russo is a great example of this with his movie. He is shocking people with facts instead of F-Bombs or offensive jokes.

    Now I’m no prude, and dirty jokes are harmless, but we should be presentable, but still real.

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