You’d be forgiven for thinking that Martin O’Malley doesn’t have any supporters outside of his friends, family, and paid staffers. Since announcing his campaign for the Democratic nomination in May, he’s never polled higher than 5 percent (and that was just once, in June) and currently stands at 1.8 percent, or just slightly above where Jim Webb was (1.3) when he gave up on his campaign altogether.
In the last fundraising quarter, O’Malley raised $1.3 million—about $24 million less than was raised by Bernie Sanders.
Last week, The Wall Street Journal published a photo of O’Malley, Sanders, and Clinton standing together ahead of the Democratic forum in South Carolina. They labeled O’Malley “an unidentified man.”
But the Unidentified Man has the support of one influential and historically significant political figure: a 93-year-old homophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist, climate change-denying possible cult leader who believes the Rockefellers are trying to spread drug addiction, famine, and the bubonic plague throughout the world and once wrote that, “According to a variety of very authoritative sources, Henry A. Kissinger is not a Jew, but a faggot.”
Reached by phone from Virginia where, of ailing health, he leads a secluded existence with his yapping dog, Holly, Lyndon LaRouche said O’Malley is “the only one who I would consider qualified to be considered for the selection of the president.
“What I’ve seen so far, O’Malley’s the only one who I could feel comfortable about right now,” he said. “There’s a certain quality of honor with him which you don’t find often with many presidential candidates.”
O’Malley needs endorsements, sure, but he needs the endorsement of LaRouche like he needs Biden to jump in the race and start strumming an acoustic guitar, or a hole in his head.
Naturally, O’Malley’s campaign responded to LaRouche’s kind words with a minor panic attack.
“It goes without saying that we reject this reprehensible individual’s endorsement,” Haley Morris, O’Malley’s spokeswoman, said.
Morris never uttered LaRouche’s name, like he’s Voldemort.
“He stands in opposition to virtually everything that Governor O’Malley believes and his view of America could not be any more different from the governor’s. Governor O’Malley has never met him, and more importantly he is disgusted by this man’s racist, homophobic, Anti-Semitic, and backward views.”
LaRouche was born on Sept. 8, 1922 in Rochester, New Hampshire, to a family of Quakers, and after nearly a century spent in New York City, Virginia, and countries as far flung as China, he maintains a grandiose New England patter.
LaRouche enlisted in the Army as a noncombatant and then, after dropping out of Northeastern University, he joined the Socialist Workers Party, a Trotskyite movement that gained popularity throughout the 1960s and ’70s. During this time, he worked as a management consultant and economist, according to his website.
But LaRouche craved power and soon formed his own movement, the National Caucus of Labor Committees, and started recruiting followers. Defectors reported a cult-like environment that required devoting to the cause their every waking moment.
And the cause seemed to shift dramatically over the years as the one-time Marxist LaRouche lurched further and further to the right until, in 2009, he commissioned an image of Barack Obama as Hitler.
LaRouche laughed when I mentioned the Hitler thing.
“It would not be unfair to Hitler to compare Obama to Hitler,” he said. “The serious thing is the man is a bad killer! He, on his own opinion, has decided to put the death knell on people all over the planet. He’s a murderer! He’s a mass murderer! And he’s not competent in any respect in terms of politics.”
To call LaRouche crazy wouldn’t quite be going far enough. LaRouche is a paranoid narcissist and charlatan whose ability to unspool Twilight Zone narratives about politics and the world’s power structures is rivaled by no other living conspiracy theorist. Not by Jesse Ventura or Alex Jones, not by Naomi Wolf or the bad Quaid brother. Not even by any of the number of people under the impression that mass shootings are false flag operations starring government-recruited crisis actors.
LaRouche is of a different breed (maybe lizard).
He believes, for instance, that Hitler was acting on behalf of the British government; that the Queen of England “personally runs the military and intelligence services” of the United Kingdom; that Margaret Mead, the anthropologist, tried to get American students addicted to LSD; that the Bush family financed Hitler’s takeover of Germany; that AIDS can be transmitted by bug bites; that global warming “is a scientific fraud”; that “the same oligarchy which had run the U.S. slave trade” is the one that “foisted” jazz music on African Americans; he claims he was personally used to help Reagan negotiate with the Soviets through “back channel talks”; and that the Rockefellers and the CIA have plotted against him and his followers.
When I brought up Clinton, he responded, “Hillary’s a funny case. She was not really a politician in any sense of a good term. She was a lawyer and she married Bill and Bill loved her very much that’s a fact and he hoped that his marriage with her would be a fruitful one, they were married early in the process and the end of the process the second term was a very bitter one for him because the British Queen herself and a bunch of Republicans set him up with a trap and he wasn’t quite quick enough on the answers to avoid that trap and after that of course we have a terrible period of Bushes and similar kinds of things and Obama so we’ve had a pretty much destroyed system of the presidency since Bill left office.”
But more than he believes any one theory, LaRouche believes in himself.
He has run for president nine times since 1976, in every election until 2008, when he finally decided he was “too old” to lead the country. One of those elections he ran from a jail cell after he was convicted of mail fraud, a felony, which he told me “was done by the Bush family” to retaliate against him for supporting Reagan, whose success he believes he is single-handedly responsible for because “I set forth the entire policy which launched his presidency,” though they only met one time.
But LaRouche still thinks he’s qualified—more than any other American since Franklin Roosevelt—to be president.
“My abilities are greater than most anyone in the presidency now, but I’m an old man,” he told me.
“I know that I am not going to become president of the United States. I won’t live long enough to become president of the United States,” he said.
“But I am qualified to judge, to make an official judgment, an authoritative judgment of what the presidency of the United States requires. That’s where I’m expert.”
And the judgment one of American history’s most baffling fringe political figures has made is that the most boring candidate of the primary should be president, which ironically could only harm O’Malley’s campaign. If LaRouche were viewing the situation from the outside, he might suspect something untoward were at play.
LaRouche did not wind up as O’Malley’s unwelcome ally through process of elimination.
Sure, he hates Hillary, “a chronic liar” who is “part of Wall Street” and acted as “a stooge of Obama.” He hates Sanders, too, “Well, because he’s no good!”
But he actually seems to like O’Malley. In March, LaRouche put out a press release touting O’Malley’s support for reinstating Glass-Steagall, which Roosevelt signed into law in 1933 and President Clinton overturned in 1999.
“O’Malley’s raised this question, and anyone who opposes that policy, has to be considered as a defective choice for a candidacy for president,” LaRouche said. “O’Malley’s the only one right now who has the qualifications for being a presidential candidate. The others will now have to declare themselves on this. You cannot ‘go along to get along’ forever with Wall Street.”
Whether or not a candidate would reinstate Glass-Steagall (and to a lesser degree, how they feel about “galactic studies”) is the decisive factor for LaRouche, who believes those opposed “should be thrown out of office.”
Roosevelt, who LaRouche measures all candidates against, “stepped into a period of real crisis where there was a kind of evil that we find in the Obama administration today,” he said. “Throw Obama out of office now! Throw anybody like him out of office now! And throw the Bush family out now!”
O’Malley may not want to be associated with LaRouche, but his disciples have been demonstrating in support of him nonetheless.
In July, Clinton gave an economic speech at The New School in New York City. Just a few feet away on the corner, team LaRouche had convened with a table of posters bearing Larouche’s face. On top of one of their cars was a sign, “LaRouche: O’Malley is Right! Glass-Steagall must be done!”
And outside the Democratic National Committee’s Washington, D.C., headquarters in September, LaRouche followers held “Martin O’Malley #WENEEDDEBATE” signs handed out by his campaign.
Mike Reeves, a lifelong LaRouche believer, told me he’s for O’Malley because LaRouche isn’t running himself.
“O’Malley’s talking about Glass-Steagall and breaking up the ‘too big to fail’ banks and he has a fighting position towards Wall Street, and Hillary’s taking a lot of their money,” Reeves said. “O’Malley actually has a policy on the banking system.”
LaRouche admitted he’s not yet gotten a chance to meet O’Malley “directly” but “indirectly, yes.”
“I’ve known him through close associates who I know personally who are in the business of working in support of presidents,” he said. “I’ve met people who I know personally who have been associated with him.”
O’Malley’s campaign said this was false. “Obviously they don’t know each other nor have folks in common,” Morris said.