Muslims For Nader/Camejo

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Sunday, August 22, 2004

Now in Dem-o-vision

Why Nader won't stop speaking his mind
DAVID OLIVE - Toronto Star - August, 22, 2004

Maybe it's time for Democrats to get over their obsession with Ralph Nader.

A while ago, Nader recalled his efforts at the dawn of the airliner-hijacking era in the early 1970s to push for hardened cockpit doors. The airlines balked at the extra cost and for three decades the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration accepted their argument.

"When I turned on the TV on Sept. 11, I almost threw up," Nader said. Even now, almost three years after the tragedy, the hardened doors have been installed only on certain planes.

You can see why such a disturber of the peace is not fit to be president. Or maybe you can't.

Nader is currently the presidential choice of 2 per cent of U.S. voters, not far shy of the 2.7 per cent of the vote he captured in 2000, when, as every Democrat knows, he cost Al Gore the presidency.

That Gore ran such a desultory campaign he managed to lose his home state — that the contest was lost in Tennessee, not Florida — is seldom mentioned.

The nightmare of 2000 could be repeated this year, with perhaps 2 million votes for Nader making a difference in some of the 16 states that are too close to call. That's why GOP-affiliated groups are trying to get Nader on the ballot in many states, and the Dems, in a profoundly undemocratic gesture, are mounting court challenges to have him disqualified.

Democrats routinely attack Naderites as "spoilers," "idiots" and "egomaniacs." The misdirected vitriol helps keep them from dwelling on how easily their own standard-bearer was snookered on Iraq. And how, like George W. Bush, he lacks a convincing exit strategy from that quagmire.

Craving "electablity," Democrats have provided Nader his opening. They have embraced a candidate who opposes same-sex marriage, has doubted the merit of affirmative action, once tried to outlaw teacher tenure, and supported NAFTA over union opposition and welfare-to-work "reform" despite the objections of social-policy progressives.

John Kerry voted for the Patriot Act, a brazen assault on civil liberties not far removed from the odious Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798.

Kerry panders to the National Rifle Association with gun-toting photo-ops. Awash in corporate donations since the mid-point of his long Senate career, he is zealous in catering to big business.

"Kenny Boy" Lay, the disgraced former CEO of Enron Corp., who was feted at the Kerry manse almost a year after Enron's epic collapse, would not be among those surprised that Kerry has abandoned his "Benedict Arnold CEOs" label of the primary season for tycoons who ship American jobs abroad.

Kerry now tells that "I am going to bring Corporate America to the table — not to lecture but to say: How do we make you competitive? How do we get out of your way? Research and development tax credits? I'd make them permanent and larger. Manufacturing tax credits? That's a smart way to help."

In the aftermath of unprecedented corporate chicanery, abetted by regulators asleep at the wheel — when "Enron," and "Halliburton" should be fighting words — Kerry wants to keep Corporate America on the dole and get out of its way .

When Kerry said on Aug. 9 that he would have supported the Iraq-war resolution even knowing what we now do about phantom weapons of mass destruction and phony ties between Saddam and Al Qaeda, he tossed away the Democrats' high card — the Bush administration's craven mendacity.

A slack-jawed New York Times asked last Sunday what, if any, threshold of proof Kerry needs before letting slip the dogs of war.

Liberal media critic Eric Alterman, who has been relentless in demonizing Nader, complained that "Kerry's position (on Iraq) is pretty close to inexplicable, impossible to understand, and worst of all, contributes to Republican attacks that this is a man who cannot take a consistent stand and stick to it."

In contrast to the "mealy-mouthed" or "namby-pamby" campaign that Kerry vowed in April not to run but is now conducting, Nader is a fount of clarity.

He would drive corporate money out of politics, skew America's priorities from tax cuts and the military buildup to repairing the social safety net. And he'd quit Iraq immediately.

"There's a reason why the unions have the slogan, `Which side are you on?'" Nader said in a recent Harper's round-table on the future of U.S. liberalism. (There's a reason why Bush does, too.)

"We should list the major goals of our country," says Nader, "and ask, who is saying no. Health insurance for everyone: who is saying no? A living wage: who is saying no? It's the corporations."

The party's Plan A is to hope that enough Americans dislike Bush to defeat him without much prodding from the Democrats. There is no Plan B.

The Anybody-But-Bush tent is getting bigger by the day but will never welcome Nader.

Oh, but the Dems have found someone to openly hate. A walking, talking indictment of the Democrats' estrangement from their progressive instincts, Nader is worse than a nuisance. He's a reminder that, if the Democrats lose on Nov. 2, they will deserve to.

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