“Let’s say Ron Paul is Nirvana,” said Kennedy, the television personality and former MTV host, by way of explaining the sort of politician who excites libertarians like herself. “Like, the coolest, most amazing thing to come along in years, and the songs are nebulous but somehow meaningful, and the lead singer kills himself to preserve the band’s legacy.
“Then Rand Paul — he’s Pearl Jam. Comes from the same place, the songs are really catchy, can really pack the stadiums, though it’s not quite Nirvana.
“Ted Cruz? He’s Stone Temple Pilots. Tries really hard to sound like Pearl Jam, never gonna sound like Nirvana. Really good voice, great staying power — but the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts.”
I met Kennedy (a gabby 41-year-old whose actual name is Lisa Kennedy Montgomery) in Midtown Manhattan at Fox News headquarters, where she hosts a Fox Business Network program called “The Independents.” By cable TV standards, the show, which is shown four times a week, is jarringly nonpartisan, for the simple reason that she and her co-hosts — the Reason magazine editor in chief Matt Welch and the entrepreneur Kmele Foster — are openly contemptuous of both parties. Kennedy spent most of the Bill Clinton ‘90s as MTV’s most vocal Republican, but then she soured on the G.O.P., a political shift that solidified during the spending and warring and moralizing excesses of the George W. Bush years. Sometime after the elephant tattoo on her left hip “got infected and started looking more like a pig,” Kennedy began thinking of herself as a libertarian instead. She, Welch and Foster take turns on the show bashing not only “Obamacare” but also the N.S.A., neoconservatives and social scolds. It’s not a hospitable forum for G.O.P. talking points. “There are some libertarian-leaning Republicans who are afraid to be on our show,” Kennedy told me. Libertarianism’s Nirvana, a k a the former congressman and former presidential candidate Ron Paul, has been on “The Independents” more than once. But Pearl Jam — a k a Ron Paul’s son Rand, a one-term Republican senator who may well run for the presidency in 2016 — has yet to appear.
A few weeks after our conversation, I saw Kennedy onstage in a hotel ballroom, wearing purple spandex, gyrating to the soundtrack of “Flashdance” and hollering into a microphone, “Are you hungry for more liberty?” She was the M.C. for the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s annual dinner, which, as Welch put it to me, “in the tallest-dwarf category is considered to be one of D.C.’s best annual galas.” The C.E.I. is a 30-year-old organization that routinely sues federal agencies, often when new and onerous regulations are posted in the Federal Register. Tonight’s banquet had advertised itself as having an ‘80s theme, and so several of the 800 attendees arrived dressed as pop icons of that decade…
[continues at the New York Times Magazine]
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