The Blowtorch and Pliers, Applied to Ralph Nader by…Ralph Nader!

What a difference a few weeks makes for the fledgling Nader 2004 campaign. This week the US Green Party declined to “endorse” Nader’s non-Green “independent” candidacy in favor of nominating their own candidate, party activist David Cobb. So much for coronations on the Left.
Reading about the Greens’ convention in Milwaukee, WI was like reading about a long gone era in Democratic and Republican conventions – one in which the outcome was not predetermined before the delegates got there, with real drama, and a very contentious debate before a decision on who their nominee would be, and a close vote.
In an era of Reality TV, I think both Democrats and Republicans have missed the boat on this. Can you imagine if we had a real Democratic convention, with real drama, and realtime dealmaking, televised as the ultimate reality show? Might have been fun. Ah, but I digress.
By all accounts, it is Ralph Nader who did the best job of defeating Ralph Nader, losing the chance at ballot access in many key states, including California. Nader’s stubborn decision to run as an “independent” (or nominee of what’s left of the Reform Party, depending on what day you ask spokesman Kevin Zeese what their candidate’s message is) managed to highlight already simmering tensions between the self-styled pop idol candidate and party from another generation of lefty types.
Many were already sore about Nader’s past slights, heavy handed management style, a refusal to share volutneer lists and information with grassroots party regulars, and a distinct lack of cooperation with local Green activists and leaders like San Francisco Supervisor and mayoral candidate Matt Gonzalez.
The fact that Nader refused to run as a Green, and refused to even attend a convention from whom he sought an endorsement demonstrated a real lack of politcal sense even a kid running for fourth grade president has. If you want the group to vote for you, you have to ask them first and it probably helps to actually show up as well. The Left is not big on coronations – heck you can’t even wear leather or eat a burger in one of these places, so trappings of royalty tend not to sit well.
This was on the heels of more bad news for the Nader machine. Recent reports in the Washington Post detailing more suspicious misuse of non profit facilities for Nader’s presidential camapign resulted in an ethics watchdog group filing a formal complaint against the Nader campaign, and raising more questions about Nader not unlike past charges of financial shenanigans brought against Nader by watchdog groups concerned about PIRG fundraising.
Additional reports of Nader’s second attempt to get on the Oregon ballot did not help his cause much either. Reports that conservative leaning groups were attempting to “stack” the event to benefit Nader, not out of some love for Nader’s policies, but instead in a bid to try and defeat Kerry, had none of the grassroots charm or energy Nader wishes his campaign had.
Instead it was an effort muddled by those who have no interest in Nader at all – except as a potential spoiler to defeat John Kerry in the fall. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the aging and increasingly bitter Nader and his dwindling camapign. A new ethics complaint now filed against the Nader campaign, and allies of the Bush/Cheney campaign only lead to more stains on the record for St. Ralph and company.
Thus it’s time to reassess Nader’s candidacy in the light of reality. Additional reports of sagging interest and internal disorganization within the Nader operation continue to dodge the campaign, to the point where Nader’s band of folks can no longer keep repeating the “press is out to get us” retort they’ve been using for over 10 years now – it’s time to realize that this circus ran out of calliope music a long time ago, and the only ones left paying for it are people who hope that it will somehow harm Kerry in some circuitous way.
It’s time to wonder what kind of legacy Ralph will leave on this race, in the final analysis. It is also time to wonder why news about this sorry candidacy is deemed on a level equal to that of the President or a sitting US Senator’s major party challenge of said president. Call me crazy, but this little circus’ tent is on fire, and the ringmaster’s been drinking 40s on his lunch break. Not exactly a professional three-ringer like the Democrats and Republicans are putting on.
Many polls show that if an election were held today in many “swing” states, Nader’s 3% could tip states to Bush, or at least make Kerry sweat a lot more than if the question was to choose either Bush or Kerry , hence the attention/concern/encouragement of Nader by folks on all sides. However, polling is not a predictor of future results – they are only a snapshot in time which assumes Nader’s on the ballot – note the word “assume.”
Thus, while Nader’s numbers now indicate a threat, that assumes of course, that he’ll be on the ballot. However, given his lack of organization, his lack of a Green Party nomination (with its access to the ballot in over 22 states) and a campaign message that gets more and more muddled each day starts to make the hopes of Bush supporters wishing for another “Nader factor” to help the President win re-election dimmer and dimmer.
Unlike the Gore camapign, which foolishly pissed away its advantages one by one, and ignored Nader until it was too late, the Democratic side has a unity of purpose not seen in ages, and will do whatever it takes to ensure that this election, win or lose, will not be held hostage by Nader.
It’s rare one gets to see a candidte implosion in such slow motion. Usually when we see a candidate go down in flames the media is too busy fanning them for us to get to see just how bad the crash can be. At the rate Ralph Nader is going, the tent’s collapsing, the lions have escaped, the carnies are being jailed, and yet the ringmaster is still insisting the show will go on. Don’t bet on it.
UPDATE: published a new feature detailing more of the many things Ralph Nader would rather you not read about, lest it make you think he’s anything less than a saint.
UPDATE 2: Faced with the cold hard fact that he did not get enough signatures to qualify for the Arizona ballot Nader abandoned his bid for ballot status in that state. Predictably, Keven Zeese assumed his role of Chief Crybaby for the camapign, and whined about the “unfairness” of it all.
Now, this afternoon we’re hearing more whining and crying from Kevin Zeese, probably the whiniest spokesman for a candidate in recent memory, accusing people of dirty tricks. Guess when your boss is dishing out the attacks it’s ok, but when someone calls you and your boss on your sullied reputations, life’s not so good, eh, Mr. Zeese. So much for “fairness” from the Nader crew.
Memo to Kevin Zeese: When the rules say you need a certain number of signatures that are legitimate to qualify for the ballot, that’s the number you need.
This is a “1” or a “0” type situation – whining and “debating” have no place. You guys failed in your mission, and now you’re not on the ballot. Stop blaming others for your own inability to organize an effective campaign.
Your own incompetence, and the sheer lack of political skill or strategy by Boss Nader, are not the fault of the Democrats, Republicans or The Man. It’s yours. Time to own your failures and move on, kids. The whining and crying is getting a bit old.
Hey! Take a page from the great Maddox, and get some Johnson’s and Johnson’s “No More Tears” baby shampoo. Charge it to the campaign – it’s a legitimate expense for you!
© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at

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