Saturday, February 21, 2004

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Will Nader raid the Deaniacs?

Fox News reports that Ralph Nader "will enter the 2004 race for the White House as an independent candidate." He'll announce on Meet The Press this Sunday.

This is somewhat different from Nader's 2000 race, when he was the Green Party candidate. Running as an independent will likely make it harder for Nader to get registered on all 50 state ballots plus the District of Columbia, since he won't be able to rely on the Green Party infrastructure (don't laugh, it exists) to help him out.

That said, one wonders if Nader would attract disgruntled Deaniacs -- regardless of what Dean says.

Josh Marshall provides the Democratic spin on this development. However, Wonkette's headline says the same thing, but has the triple advantage of being shorter, saucier and funnier.

UPDATE: For those on the right chuckling about this, scroll down the Politics1 blog, which suggests that former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore might run for President on the Constitution Party ticket.

ANOTHER UPDATE: OK, go ahead and chuckle -- Josh Chafetz says that Moore ain't running.

posted by Dan on 02.21.04 at 03:27 PM


Well...Let's not play pretend. Kerry was doomed from the get-go. You could pick anyone of a dozen reasons, but let's just put me down for his '71 testimony on Vietnam. Where's this nail in the coffin coming from? None other than "Democracy Now!"

But as I say, he was doomed regardless. How?

I'll conceed that it was still a 50/50 world (popularily) after the 2000 election, if any antagonist here will admit that no fewer than 2% of those millions who checked "Gore" have since had a change of heart regarding their priorities when they awoke the 12th of Septemnber.

That's the 'college', and the 'game'.

posted by: Tommy G on 02.21.04 at 03:27 PM [permalink]

Well, it's been my working theory all along that there was a large overlap between Dean's 2004 supporters and Nader's 2000 supporters. So Deaniac defections wouldn't exactly be surprising, particularly among the 18-21 set who couldn't vote in 2000 (and therefore never got the thrill of "sticking it to the man" followed very shortly by the non-thrill of Bush's inauguration).

Anyway, my advice to the Democrats would be to ignore Nader in the states he won't make a difference while going nuclear to deny him ballot access in close states like Florida. He can't steal the election (oh, I forgot, that was Jeb Bush who did that) if he's not on the ballot...

posted by: Chris Lawrence on 02.21.04 at 03:27 PM [permalink]

What will be interesting to see is how much of t"Nader cost Gore the election" effect will force Kerry to campaign further to the left than he would otherwise want to.

posted by: Stephen Macklin on 02.21.04 at 03:27 PM [permalink]

First thought: Nader will receive, at best, half the votes he got last time. Post 9/11 only true believers would squander their vote again (take it from me, I not only voted for the guy--and convinced at least 3 family members to do same--I volunteered for him!).

Second thought: here's the message I'd love Dems to give Deanaderites--don't let the door hit you on the way out! These guys are way more trouble than they're worth--loud, radical, uncompromising (not in the good way), poor and (regarding turnout) unreliable. Who needs them? The worst thing Dem leaders could do would be to pander to this small bloc in a misguided, doomed attempt to "win them back", losing centrists in the process and STILL failing to convince these hardcore idiots.

Bye bye. Thanks Ralph. You're doing us all a big big favor.

posted by: Kelli on 02.21.04 at 03:27 PM [permalink]

Steve and Chris...

I agree, but I really don't see what else the D's could do. They turned on Dean, even though 1) as a governor, he stood the best chance of taking the fight to the President, and 2)he was the only one of their candidates that could have kept Nader at bay. What do either of you think could have been done by the D's to stop the "Big N"?

But even without Nader, the >2%912's will kill Kerry.

posted by: Tommy G on 02.21.04 at 03:27 PM [permalink]

Well, it's been my working theory all along that there was a large overlap between Dean's 2004 supporters and Nader's 2000 supporters.

And my working theory is that your theory is based on nothing more than fevered imagination.

Oh, and thanks for the advice. I'll file a printout inside my copy of Zig Ziglar's Secrets of Closing the Sale.

posted by: Grant on 02.21.04 at 03:27 PM [permalink]

I don't see it. I'm a "Deaniac", I guess. I went to the first Dean Meetup in March of 2003. I've still got Dean bumper stickers on my car and a Dean button on my coat. And I'd drink warm sweat with a castor oil chaser before I'd vote for Nader.

I've been to three different Meetup groups in upstate NY (Albany area), probably about 300 people total, and talked with most of them. I think the number who would even seriously consider voting for Nader I could count on the fingers of one hand. Most of the folks seem to fall into the same general territory I do: still like Dean, will vote for Kerry if he's the nominee, but have a really hard time getting excited about him and trust him about as far as I can comfortably spit a rat.

posted by: Mike Jones on 02.21.04 at 03:27 PM [permalink]

Mike: I LOVE your similies even though they are respulsive! Warm sweat with a castor oil chaser!

posted by: RogerA on 02.21.04 at 03:27 PM [permalink]

“...will vote for Kerry if he's the nominee, but have a really hard time getting excited about him and trust him about as far as I can comfortably spit a rat.”

These sentiments should scare the hell out of any Democrat strategists. The “Democrat wing of the Democrat Party” must be enthusiastic about Senator Kerry if he is to defeat Bush. Merely holding one’s nose while pulling the lever in the voting booth is simply not going to get it done.

Ralph Nader may only get two percent of the total vote. But his real importance will be the pushing of John Kerry further to the left. The Massachusetts Senator will not be able to moderate his image. I predict that Kerry will drop significantly in the polls before the end of March. President Bush should easily have at least a seven point advantage.

posted by: David Thomson on 02.21.04 at 03:27 PM [permalink]

I doubt Nader will make any difference now. People who vote for Nader in 2004 will be those that truly don't see a difference between Bush and Kerry and so can't be considered lost votes to Kerry.

I also doubt Kerry will move much left. The Dem base is pretty united in getting rid of Bush and will give the nominee plenty of room.

Bush has some real serious troubles. His only real strength, being perceived as a straight-talker, is eroding fast. Add to that the situation in Iraq and the lack of jobs and he's in big trouble.

posted by: GT on 02.21.04 at 03:27 PM [permalink]

Doubt He'll make any difference? He's on MTP right now blasting the "liberal intelligencia" for being 'anti-democratic'.

I don't know what to tell you, GT - those 'true-believers' can be a real drag on organizations. What are you suppossed to say to D's that want vote their conscious?

posted by: Tommy G on 02.21.04 at 03:27 PM [permalink]

er.. or conscience....conscious or conscience. uh, they have to *be* conscious to have a know what I'm saying...

posted by: Tommy G on 02.21.04 at 03:27 PM [permalink]

I'm sure he'll get some votes. But those will be mainly votes that would have never gone to Kerry in any case.

Bush has bigger problems right now than Kerry. There has been little talk of the special election in KY but it's a pretty big deal.

posted by: GT on 02.21.04 at 03:27 PM [permalink]

Nader's a scumbag. Doncha love his croc tears over the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis slaughtered while the first President Bush stood by and let it happen?

This is of course basically true, but for people of Nader's ilk to get sanctimonious about it gets me ready to start swinging fists.

Does it EVER occur to such people that the entire reasons Bush 41 stood by are the EXACT reasons Bush 43's critics have been harping on for a year now? The UN did NOT approve removing Saddam, the coalition would have fractured, the 'Arab Street' was predicted to rise in wrath, and, oh Lordy, had we gone to Baghdad in 1991, well, we woulda had opposition, it woulda been Stalingrad, and God forbid we WIN, because then WE woulda had to occupy and administer Iraq and who knows how long we would be there, blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah.....

The US/UN/Desert Storm coaliton's failure to remove Saddam was a catastrophic, if understandable at the time, error, and the post-war slaughter was one of America's most ignominious moments, along with encouraging Hungary to rise in 1956, and then letting the Soviets slaughter them.

But Nation magazine readers and Nader's ilk are the LAST people on God's green earth with any right to point that out, given their rabid oppostion to making it right in any tangible way, and their resulting de facto pro-Saddamism.

(Has it ever occured to anyone that it is every bit as likely that Bush 43 has been motivated to atone for that post-'91 horror, but cannot say so without condemning his father? Thus, he beleives it but cannot admit it? Maybe, maybe not, but it is AT LEAST as likely as "Oh, Bush just wanted revenge, it's a grudge match", and other assorted insulting lunacies.)

Nader's gonna give me a stroke.

posted by: Andrew X on 02.21.04 at 03:27 PM [permalink]


The first president Bush could not take out Saddam because the same people that opposed the present removal of Saddam opposed removal then as well.

posted by: Terrye on 02.21.04 at 03:27 PM [permalink]

Um, didn't I just say that...?

That's why Nader set me off. If they were at least consistent, I'd just disagree. But Nader's on Russert today pissing and moaning about the (post-'91) murdered, as though he and his ilk were champing at the bit to go after that fascist maniac before he killed the thousands then, and as if he and co. are now condeming Bush '41 for losing his nerve, or something.

This just makes me seethe. To simutaneously condemn Bush 41 for that, and Bush 43 today for.... well, we all know the drill... is childish, asinine, opportunist, and insulting. He (and company) don't give a damn about Iraqi lives, freedom and liberty on this planet, or the security of the US. They care about what sh*t they can throw at a wartime President for politcal advantage. It's a disgrace.

posted by: Andrew X on 02.21.04 at 03:27 PM [permalink]

As a former "Deaniac," I can assure you that Nader will NOT capture my vote. Tired of Clinton at the end of the 1990's, I voted for Bush, basically buying into his proclaimed "compassionate conservatism." I was on board with Bush through Afghanistan, but in late 2002, with the turn toward Iraq, and the lack of a believable public argument from the administration, I abandoned Bush. Even then I did not anticipate how badly the Iraq venture would go. I turned to Dean because he seemed to be one of the few people out there who was able to speak clearly about just how bad was Bush's decision to invade Iraq.

Now that Dean has left the race, and I think he did so in a reasonably dignified way, I will certainly support Kerry over Bush. Kerry is far from perfect, but hasn't it become a basic question of competence at this point? I have ZERO faith in Bush's competence: he seems incapable of recognizing a failed policy, or of holding accountable those who sold him on the policy.

posted by: comenius on 02.21.04 at 03:27 PM [permalink]

Commenius -

Your post demonstrates for me a phenomena out there that I find, well, disconcerting to say the least. And it is simply that the two sides of the "cultural divide" if you will, just seem to be living in two entirely differnt worlds, with entirely different systems of logic, entirely different facts to back them up.... it's like one side arguing that the original Star Wars is better than Star Trek, while the other side argues "No no no, McDonald's IS better than Wendy's"... and the latter arguing while speaking Chinese.

I say the War on Terror has gone astonishingly well, considering all we expected in late September of 2001. ASTONISHINGLY well.

I say the Al-Zaquari (sp) letter, of an Al Queda in desperation, backs that up.

I say Iraq is as related to 9/11 as Morocco was to Pearl Harbor, yet we invaded Morrocco just 10 months after Pearl. (Hint: think BIGGER picture than just Osama or Yamamoto).

I say that every single solitary move toward reform in the Middle East right now, in Libya, in Saudi, in Syria, is a DIRECT result of Bush's decision to destroy Saddam's fascism. NONE of it was happening the decade before, a LOT is happening now, because Saddam is gone and the way he left.

I say that, cold as this may sound, the price we have paid so far is cheap considering the results we have obtained. Spare me the "tell that to the families, etc." Multiply those grieving families by a THOUSAND to get the results of leaving the fetid politcal swamps of the Middle East alone to foster terror on a scale heretofore unimagined.

I say that the explosions in Iraq are heard around the world, while the opening of schools, the starting of businesses, the entry into local politics of average citizens, the creation of everything totalitarianism despises, what we call "civil society", is happening on a broad and ever deepening scale in Iraq, while a hostile or incompetent media on the scene fails to notice or care.

I say that to call Iraq a "quagmire" now shows an astonishing addiction to 'Internet time', where we must have everything yesterday, "good" is not good enough, only perfection will do, and, if not, wah wah wah, who's at fault? I say it shows a terrible lack of courage, of valor, of belief that, yes, it IS possible to build something better than Saddam's gulag of a nation, but it will take courage and sacrifice to do so, something this country DID have when it saved itself from slave-owning counter-revolution, and saved the world from industrialized tyranny, but I now sometimes wonder if we have the courage and willingess to sacrifice today to save ourselves, much less anyone else, from the latest violent absolutism to come down the endless pike.

And lastly, I say that if we DON'T have the courage and the willingess to sacrifice that we once did, our honor at least, demands that we inform every nation on earth that depends on us for security that we can no longer fill that role, that they may take the appropriate steps in turn.

Iraq is a quagmire for those who want or need it to be. Iraq is a opportunity of a lifetime to change the world for the better, for those who believe that "All we have to decide is what to do with the time (and opportunities) that are given to us". And I guess that where we all stand on that question really has nothing to do with Iraq, or even with Bush, at all.

posted by: Andrew X on 02.21.04 at 03:27 PM [permalink]

GT -
that's right, i'd forgotten about the KY sitch - I'll check it out - thanks.

You're probably right on the "he'll get votes that *mostly* wouldn't have voted Kerry, anyways" meme. However...


...Take heart. The President only needs to get the >2%912's to win. You're right to be disconcerted with Comenius, but he's still "livin' la Vida 'Diez'"

posted by: Tommy G on 02.21.04 at 03:27 PM [permalink]

You're not dealing with the real question. We have two parties. Less than 50% of the electorate bothers to vote. The rest doesn't care. Instead of Democrats whining about Nader stealing their votes, they should ask themselves why they can't reach the 50% of the electorate that doesn't vote. That's the question. These 50% don't feel at home in either party, so more parties would mean more choice and more people voting. But I guess that would break the two party duopoly and that's why Nader should stay out. The two parties are protecting their jobs and don't want any competition. In this case what's good for democracy is not good for the democrats and the republicans. Go after the 50% non-voters, not after Nader.

posted by: Ricky Vandal on 02.21.04 at 03:27 PM [permalink]

Maybe it is time to consider a parlimentary system, so the extreme far left and right can have their full out wacko reps, the traditional D & R folks can have their left of and roght of center reps and the squishy undecided middle can have their neutral reps.

posted by: krm on 02.21.04 at 03:27 PM [permalink]

Coming very late to the discussion, I just wanted to share the following observations.

Personally, I think Nader will have little effect this time. Dan already mentioned that he does not even run under the umbrella of a real third party. Furthermore, Nader's argument in 2000, that the Democratic and Republican parties are only cosmetically different, has little traction this time.
Finally, a telling anecdote: I know a handful of people who had voted Nader last time, always in the context of "The State I voted in was a sure win for Gore anyway". Not a SINGLE ONE of them will vote Nader this time. From what I read quickly in this thread, this is also true for a few posters here.

Consider Nader's run to be like a "shot ignored around the world".

posted by: ch2 on 02.21.04 at 03:27 PM [permalink]

Mr. Vandal,

In the long term you are right, a point raised whatever his other flaws by Dean. However I should note that Nadar didn't raise participation that much in 2000. Given a zero sum model for electoral participation (a rough and ready approximation) I can see why Democrats might be upset. I'd like to see a third party as well to represent the other folks, but let's face it - it's not like we're ever going to get 100% participation. Even countries with very high turnout don't typically see that. The likely result of higher turnout out be more in the 60-70% range. And that would be tough to accomplish.

posted by: Oldman on 02.21.04 at 03:27 PM [permalink]

Andrew X ~
I have been digesting your passionate post. Here is an attempt at a partial response.

I am not sure what to make of your “cultural divide” notion.

I do not like the way this administration has converted everything into an aspect of the “War on Terror” (witness today’s outburst by Secretary of Education Rod Paige), but I will start by adopting your literal embrace of this slogan. In a sense it is undeniable that the WoT has gone well, as there have thankfully been no additional attacks on domestic targets. The national psyche and economy have largely recovered: our “way of life” goes on pretty much as it did before 9/11, with the exception of a lot more security mediation. Let us remember, however, that from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing to 9/11, eight years passed. Al-Qaeda is patient and it, or one of its offshoots, will presumably strike in a new way, if and when they try again.

The removal of the Taliban from power in Afghanistan was an unavoidable act on the part of the U.S. Things have gone both right and wrong in the playing out in that theater. I do not believe we committed enough resources to ensure the long-term success of Afghanistan’s reconstruction. Nor do I believe that we have done very much to sow the seeds of liberal democracy in that land. It is most certainly a very difficult proposition – as is our engagement with Pakistan. Our relationship with Pakistan (as with Saudi Arabia) seems a bundle of contradictions. Nevertheless, I am not overly critical of Bush for failing to apprehend Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar. Both the time and space of their maneuverability is shrinking by the hour.

I think I understand the “big picture” argument. I would say it grows out of a combination of long-standing (pre-9/11) viewpoints, such as those espoused by the signatories of PNAC, and the very literal experience of stark military success in Afghanistan. Yet I have grave doubts about the ultimate motives of those advocating the eradication of “Islamo-fascism,” as well as the ultimate success of attempting to do so. I do not say it is impossible, only rather unlikely. Are the “reforms” that you speak of, in Libya, Saudi Arabia and Syria, really a “direct result” of Bush’s actions? In fact, are they even “reforms”? I know of the one you refer to in Libya; and I find it only moderately credible. I know of virtually no reforms going on (beyond the age old wink and nod cosmetics) in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or Syria, much less Iran, Yemen, Egypt or Lebanon. (I should also mention the lack of meaningful engagement, by the administration, in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Iraq has not reconfigured the terms of that conflict in any meaningfully positive way, that I am aware of.)

All the stirrings of what you refer to as “civil society,” breaking out in Iraq, are certainly a good thing. I only hope they are as real as you believe, and that they can withstand the inevitable onset of even greater violence, which is sure to accompany the coming transition to “sovereignty.” (For the record, I never used the word “quagmire,” though I see how you could have drawn this implication. Yet as the term arose in relation to Vietnam, clearly the scale and dynamics of this conflict pale in comparison.)

I don’t know what it will mean to you to say that I supported the end but not the means by which Bush took the country to war. I truly think war should be undertaken as a last resort, and with profound prudence. It is clearly the means by which Bush took us to war that have caused us most of our troubles: namely, Bush’s several failed (public) rationales for going to war; our difficulty establishing order in Iraq; the increased hostility toward the U.S. by the citizens of almost every country in the world. One might say that none of these issues is all that important; but then one might say that realpolitik always has to trump the truth.

I never thought I would ever be arguing against revolution, but I have found myself doing so for the past twenty months. Bush’s pre-emptive war, although full of high-sounding rhetoric, still feels too much like the old “liberation theology” that was the bane of the Reagan years. Nevertheless, given what has taken place on the ground in Iraq, I have to say I am glad to see the rise of political and social discourse among the native Shi’ites; as I am glad to see the impotence of the exiles. I do not know whether the three primary social groups can ever work out a power sharing arrangement in the new Iraq (I have my doubts), but if they do it seems it will have a shape all its own – and this could indeed be very positive.

Your closing comments on “sacrifice” are poignant. Thomas Friedman has issued similar sentiments in his NYT editorials. I have a sense of what “sacrifice” means. I respect our military for their brave work. Yet, I have to admit that I do not feel the president has ever convincingly spoken of “sacrifice.” I don’t know why this is; perhaps he is incapable. Evaluating the administration within the narrow confines of the Iraq war, or the wider confines of the WoT, one can make arguments either way. But, regardless of the verbal and emotional theatrics at play, our American life is still vastly more than the debits and credits of the WoT – and it is in this context that I especially do not sense any awakening to “sacrifice” out of this administration. Rumsfeld summed up administration policy quite effectively in last year’s run-up to the war: “might makes right.” This is not the philosophical kernel from which an alternative to “Islamo-fascism” is going to grow.

posted by: comenius on 02.21.04 at 03:27 PM [permalink]

Well spoken, sir.

You, I, and Friedman are in agreement that we wish this administration was more willing to engage the American people in terms of "sacrifices" that we all could make that would invest us in the conflict. In a sense, their fear (I assume) that such sacrifice might turn us away from the fight might be the opposite of the truth.

When I speak of courage and valor, it is difficult to spell it out with sounding either callous or cavalier about the lives and families of our soldiers. I do not serve, I have family who have, and I do not take their lives the slightest bit lightly.

But there is no other way to put it.... if we are not willing to sacrifice lives in this fight, our only other option is a radical isolationism, simply because we lack the... well, courage, fiber, valor, steel, fire, whatever you want to call it. We are either in the "game" of defending liberty, or we are not. And if we are not, it is dangerous to imply to anyone that we are. The worst thing we can do here, rather than taking this fight to the enemy... or sealing up the walls of Fortress America... is some weaselly in-between policy, a policy driven not by our interests but by keeping people from being "upset". Our enemies can smell craven-ness like sharks can smell blood, and their reaction is the same. And it seems that all too many of Bush's opponents are saying "well, we can do THIS... but not THAT... and everyone has to be happy... and if the Belgians don't like it, I guess we're out of luck.... etc etc. This craven middle-ism is every bit as dangerous, and attractive to the sharks, as ANYTHING Mr. Bush has done.

Conversely, I genuinely believe that a primary reason we have not been attacked as we expected do is because our enemies, countries and groups, are saying "Holy S**t, this Bush is nuts! We don't know WHAT the hell he's gonna do next! Lie low, man. Chill." That's called, as General Grant said, "making your enemy less worried about what he'll do to you, and more about what you'll do to him." It's called, "taking the initiative, and forcing the enemy to fight on your terms, not his." It's called... waging war, successfully.

And the Left simply does not want to do it. 9/11 was categorically worse than Pearl Harbor. More people died. Those deaths were civilian, not military. They took place not in a far-flung (then) territory, they took place in New York and Arlington.

And for the Left, and Bush's opponents, it's not enough. Again, Iraq is related to 9/11 as much as Morocco was to Pearl. The reasons for going into Iraq were not 9/11, they were not WMD, they were not human rights and Saddams 300,000 plus victims, they were not Saddams's rapacious personality, they were not oil (our enemy using it's wealth against us as much as us having it), they were not Saddams' proclivity to rape his neighbors for plunder and joy, they were not the relevance of the UN, and they were not the credibility of the US in the eyes of those who would like to kill us, and they were not an opportunity to change the political culture in the area to make it less hostile to the entire world. They were ALL these things together, adding up to a situation that simply could not be allowed to continue indefinitely. There was simply too much on that side of the balance, and it WAS 9/11 that radically changed the way that balance tipped.

So I guess in the end, one thing that frustrates a great many Americans, and one that, if addressed, could seriously set back Mr. Bush re-election, is if the Democratic party were to reject it's appalling post-1972 refusal to see fascism, red or otherwise, for the ETERNAL threat that it represents. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said of pornography, I say of fascism... "I may not be able to specifically define it, but I damn sure know it when I see it". For millions of Euro-Lefties to be unable to see it for what it is is an international disgrace, and their inability to do so is certainly no reason in my book to offer them any veto power over our actions in a war waged upon us by Arab/Islamic fascists, of which Saddam was one.... as responsible for 9/11 as Hitler was for Pearl Harbor, or Japan was for the rape of Poland. They were responsible..... indirectly and ideologically. They walked the walk and danced the dance. And it is time for free men and women to realize that.

posted by: Andrew X on 02.21.04 at 03:27 PM [permalink]

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