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John Nichols discusses Nader’s comments about Obama and Obama’s response.
Obama may be “the first liberal evangelist in a long time,” says Nader, but the senator’s “better instincts and knowledge have been censored” since he hit the nation stage.
“(Obama’s) leaned, if anything, toward the pro-corporate side of policy-making,” Nader said of the senator from Illinois. The consumer activist also scored Obama on on foreign policy, noting that, “He was pro-Palestinian when he was in Illinois… Now he’s supporting (right-wing Israeli policies that thwart progress toward peace in the Middle East).”
Such blunt statements may not win Nader many friends among Obama’s enthusiastic backers, and Obama did not exactly welcome his new rival to the race. “Ralph Nader deserves enormous credit for the work he did as a consumer advocate,” Mr. Obama said while campaigning in Ohio “But his function as a perennial candidate is not putting food on the table of workers.”
But Nader’s not looking for Valentines from the Democrats.
Frankly, he’s not even all that interested in popular approval.
The DNC folk may be panicking, but Obama doesn’t appear to be.
Nader’s greatest value in any race is — like Socialist Norman Thomas in his races against Democratic Franklin Roosevelt — as a source of pressure on the Democratic nominee to address fundamental questions and perhaps to take more progressive stands on a few issues. As in 2000 and 2004, Nader’s appeal will be determined in large part by the extent to which the Democratic candidate is willing to be bold.
Obama seems to understands this. Unlike Gore or Kerry, who never quite “got” the point of Nader’s runs in 2000 and 2004, the Illinois senator appears to recognize that it is pointless to grumble about Ralph Nader as a “spoiler.” Rather, the point is to be more appealing to progressive voters who might consider voting Green or independent.
“I think the job of the Democratic Party is to be so compelling that a few percentage [points] of the vote going to another candidate is not going to make any difference,” says Obama.
I keep looking for reasons not to like Obama, but they’re far and few.
Meanwhile, Nader didn’t take kindly to the “perennial candidate” comment.