Every presidential candidate, no matter how modest his chances, gets his media moment. This is Alan Keyes’. Keyes is projected to come in third in the Jan. 24 Iowa caucuses (after George W. Bush and Steve Forbes), mainly because John McCain didn’t campaign in Iowa. It would probably be a distant third, but it would still represent an accomplishment worth noting: In the Iowa polls, Keyes is running ahead of his fellow far-right candidate, Gary Bauer, and also ahead of Orrin Hatch, whose stature as a Senate statesman has been undermined by his schoolmarmish performance in the debates. (The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank reported last week that Hatch has been reduced to reciting in public the text of an endorsement letter he received from Pierre Salinger, the JFK spokesman turned conspiracy theorist.)
Keyes has actually come in ahead of Forbes (behind only Bush and McCain) in a couple of national polls. He is doing well enough that he’s got the Forbes campaign nervously spinning to anyone who’ll listen that Keyes is a social conservative, not a social-and-economic conservative like Forbes. But that’s ridiculous: If elected, Keyes promises to get rid of the income tax and replace it with a national sales tax.
It’s possible that the anticipated Keyes Surge could be obliterated in the Iowa caucuses by an unexpected McCain Surge; that McCain, through some campaign equivalent of tantric sex, will come in third. This possibility, however distant, has prompted media outlets to shower Keyes with attention before the event itself, since they may not get the chance to do so after. On Jan. 21, a Keyes profile by the Wall Street Journal’s Shailagh Murray pronounced Keyes “oddly appealing, the anti-establishment extremist with the silver tongue.” The following day, the Washington Post’s Kevin Merida weighed in with a Keyes profile that more forthrightly pronounced Keyes a nut (Merida called him “a complicated man,” daily journalism’s euphemism for “nut”), but nonetheless reveled in the fact that Keyes makes spectacularly good copy. In an elegy for the campaign’s also-rans in the Jan. 31 New Yorker, Joe Klein observed that when Keyes defended Slobodan Milosevic’s sovereignty or attacked John McCain for expressing fondness for Nine Inch Nails, he was “always eloquent, never quite hinged.”
Chatterbox’s contribution to Alan Keyes’ media moment is to spread the word about Keyes’ choice for attorney general, which (according to Nexis) has been reported only once, in the Washington Times. It’s Larry Klayman, the Clinton-hating, polymorphously litigious chairman and founder of Judicial Watch. According to a Dec. 11 Judicial Watch press release, this is what Keyes said in an interview on Klayman’s radio show, The Judicial Watch Report:
I think that we need to put someone in as Attorney General who, among other things, will enforce the law and then get to the truth on behalf of the American people and there’s nobody that has been doing that with greater courage and effectiveness–even without any kind of official position–than Larry Klayman.
According to the press release, Klayman “has found his calling as Chairman of Judicial Watch” but was nonetheless “flattered by the vote of confidence.”
Klayman is a piquant choice for attorney general. At the moment, he has libel suits going against David Segal of the Washington Post and Harvey Berkman of the National Law Journal. He apparently feels victimized by Jewish journalists because (he wrote recently), “as a Jew with close ties to social as well as economic conservatives–and as a Jew who believes in Christ–I guess they perceive me as a threat to the liberal Jewish creed, a kosher Uncle Tom.” Taking a deposition from former Clinton aide Paul Begala, he pressed Begala for the name of his priest in La Porte, Texas. In another deposition, with former Clinton aide Harold Ickes, he made Ickes so mad that he threatened to piss on Klayman’s rug. Klayman once sued his own mother. A character on NBC’s West Wing named “Harry Klaypool,” who heads a group called “Freedom Watch,” is apparently based on Klayman.