DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL consultant James Carville once described Ross Perot's presidential campaign as the greatest act of public masturbation in American history. With his decision to run for president again in 2004, serial wanker Ralph Nader is taking a run at Perot's title.
While I agree with Nader on many points, including the corporate takeover of Washington, D.C. (and Washington state, for that matter), he continues to offer nothing but warped rationales for his candidacy, which, increasingly, seems to be about Ralph.
After the election of 2000, Nader traveled the country trying to restore his reputation among progressives, insisting that he hadn't cost Al Gore the election. Which was a weird defense because (1) he was demonstrably partly responsible for Gore's defeat, and (2) he pushed a big lie: that there was no difference between the Democratic and Republican parties.
Anyone who didn't believe there was a difference between the parties in 2000 should believe it now.
But weirdly, Nader has worked hardest to restore his reputation by insisting that, in fact, his run in 2000 had actually helped the Democrats—and that somehow the D's were unjustly ungrateful. He cited Maria Cantwell's win over Republican Sen. Slade Gorton, saying his voters made the difference in that race. He groused that he was still waiting for a thank-you call.
But as I wondered in a KUOW-FM commentary at the time, if there truly is no difference between Democrats and the GOP, why would he take pride in Cantwell's election, a senator who personifies how slim the differences can be? And was it really the Nader voters who made the difference, or was it the $11 million that Cantwell spent to win a Senate seat? Nader supports public funding of elections and decries big money in campaigns: Shouldn't he be condemning Cantwell's win as an example of the very kind of politics he purports to revile?
IF YOU HAVE any doubt that Nader is delusional, go to his Web site, www.votenader.org, and read his letter to anybody-but-Bush liberals. In this document, he justifies his just-announced run for the presidency in 2004 by saying, again, that it will help Democrats.
How's that? Well, here are the political physics in Ralph's universe:
*His candidacy will press the Democrats (who, remember, are no better than Republicans) to "appeal more forcefully to the interests of the people." He claims credit for the populist tone that Gore adopted late in the 2000 campaign.
*The Democratic candidate can pick up his effective "modes and critiques" and improve the prospects of defeating Bush. Ralph, in effect, will be a kind of pollster, testing themes with voters.
*"An exciting campaign" will bring out Democratic voters, so his being on the stump won't steal votes and will increase Democratic turnout.
*Nader continues to insist that even if votes for him hurt the Democratic nominee, his voters will still help in congressional races.
IN SHORT, RALPH is the only one who can save the Democrats, by campaigning against them, because they'll get more votes because people will turn out and vote for them over him anyway, despite the fact that there's no difference between the two big parties. Oh, and at the same time, he's running for all third parties everywhere. Got it? Good.
I used to think Nader was just a hypocritical liar—the Jerry Falwell of the left, I've called him. But no longer. Falwell is more sane. Nader suffers from some kind of messianic narcissistic disorder. Only he can save democracy. He is the Democrats' worst critic and best friend all at the same time. He is the only one who will bring choice to the people. He contains multitudes, none of them with a firm grip on reality.
He has no sense of shame, no humility, no sense of responsibility.
Which is almost funny. Because here is the guy who has lectured and hectored us for years on the subject of corporate accountability—how those big auto manufacturers needed to protect consumers from their death traps, for example. This is the guy who has made his career demanding that everyone else be accountable.
BUT LIKE MOST politicians based in Washington, D.C., Nader has succumbed to the disease he went there to fight.
He didn't accept responsibility for his actions in 2000; he won't take the blame if there's a repeat in 2004, because, you see, he's doing us a favor.
Just like the last four years were a favor. He knows better than we do.
Hey, why don't you let me be your campaign driver? We can use my mom's old Corvair.