Sunday, February 24, 2008

Oh, Ralph

(Updated below)

ridiculous ralphI watched Ralph Nader announce his candidacy for the presidency on Meet the Press this morning. I have to admit, there is some merit to the complaints he has. It is true that many concerns that are not being addressed by either party, and it is true that absent a hard push from the far left, the Democrats have lately had a tendency to drift too far to the right. There's also a lot of truth to his assertion that if the Democrats can't win the White House in a landslide this time around, even with him in the race, they really ought to pack it up.

But really. It's clear from what else Nader had to say that he strongly prefers that the Republicans be booted out of the White House. So I say to him …

Ralph: There is a time and place for everything, and the time and place for fighting over the direction of the Democratic Party is not during the general election. It is, among other times and places, during the primaries. If you want me to respect you, you'd do much better to participate in the slugfests that are Iowa and New Hampshire and the early debates. The way you've chosen to go about things the past three elections makes me think you're either stroking your own ego or you're just plain delusional. In either case, your approach makes me doubt that you truly have the best interests of the country at heart.

(Photo source: Doug Quick)


2008-02-24 19:38

MattY has a sharper tongue than mine.


Anonymous said...

I applaud you for not jumping on the Nuke Nader bandwagon. I've learned a lot just reading the comments section on several blogs.

Two points:

1. And, this helps me personally to remember: if the Dems nominate Hillary, I do have a "sane" spoiler vote that still represents my convictions. I'm not saying I would, but the fact I could is very reassuring. Especially since I do want to forcibly relocate every Dem in Florida for the primary stunt.

2. Nader is all about the Greens, not the Dems. His persistence has more to do with challenging the two-party state than Nader's ego.

But, really, as said on MTP (which had some excellent arguments for once), if egomania was a deal breaker, we could never elect a prez!

bjkeefe said...


Regarding your first point, I can only say I hope you live in a locality where the race for the electoral votes won't be close. As bad as Hillary is, or might be, she is still light-years better than St. Maverick. I sympathize with your protest vote, but I hope you'll reconsider if things get close.

Regarding your second: I dunno. Following from my argument in the original post, I'd buy such an attitude more if Nader participated in the primaries, even if he really believes the two-party system is the main problem. He could run for the Democratic nomination and then run as a third-party candidate if (when) he didn't win, and I'd find that a lot more credible. It doesn't take a ton of money to participate at least through Iowa and New Hampshire, and as Mike Huckabee showed, you're guaranteed to get plenty of press attention while so doing. To jump into the fray only during the general smacks of a publicity stunt, at best, and suggests a spoiled child who won't play by the rules, if I want to be less charitable.

I don't think he is purely ego-driven, at least not to the extent of, say, Ross Perot, but I do think he's got an inflated sense of the worth of his own take on how to fix the problems with our political system. What Obama said about him -- "My sense is that Mr. Nader is somebody who, if you don't listen and adopt all of his policies, thinks you're not substantive" -- certainly rang true.

As a test of ego, imagine the following: Bloomberg says he wants to run, he'll pay all the bills, adopt every plank in Nader's program, and he wants Nader to be his VP. Think Ralph would accept?

Adam said...

At least Perot got more than 10% of the vote once.

bjkeefe said...

Your statement seems to imply that the voting public's momentary tastes are always worthy, a premise I dismiss out of hand.

Adam said...

Not really what I was getting at.

My point was more that at least Perot's egomania was grounded in the reality that not only did he play a roil as a spoiler in a super-tight election, but that he actually managed to build his own constituency (which you and I both find highly questionable) that was able to obtain the votes of nearly 19% of the electorate.

I don't doubt his megalomania, but at least the facts on the ground were more conducive to him rationally arguing that he was successfully building a political third way, and would seem to have justified his decision to run again in '96.

And further, after worse results the second time around he finally did pack it in.

None of these elements can Nader claim; he has never generated anything but a tiny amount of political support from a fraction of the electorate clearly aligned with most of his own interests, and yet he persists in running in election after election.

Compared to Nader, Perot looks like humble, frankly.

bjkeefe said...

Ah, now I see what you meant. Good points about his ability to build a constituency, and the justification from that for a second run.

And given that he did win 19% of the vote, it's probably fair to say that not everyone who voted for him was a moron. I do know one or two people who joined his party, one of them even running for office as the candidate for United We Stand. (He's not my friend as much anymore -- too many fund-raising letters. ;^) )

I don't know if I'd go so far as to say Nader "never generated anything but a tiny amount of political support," though. Wikipedia gives some non-trivial numbers, and no one will ever forget that he won enough in 2000 to be a spoiler.

But ultimately, I cannot disagree that Nader's ego probably dwarfs even Perot's.