Nader Threatens to Run Yet Again

Ralph Nader, who lost all credibility in my mind after he continued to claim there was no difference between Democrats and Republicans after seeing Bush in office, is threatening to run yet again. He also blasts Hillary Clinton and, while there is some truth to his charges, there is no benefit to be seen from him challenging her in the general election should she win the Democratic nomination. Reuters reports:

Former presidential candidate Ralph Nader on Sunday left the door open for another possible White House bid in 2008 and criticized Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton as “a panderer and a flatterer.”

Asked on CNN’s Late Edition news program if he would run in 2008, the lawyer and consumer activist said, “It’s really too early to say. … I’ll consider it later in the year.”

Nader, 72, said he did not plan to vote for Clinton, a Democratic senator from New York and former first lady.

“I don’t think she has the fortitude. Actually she’s really a panderer and a flatterer. As she goes around the country, you’ll see more of that,” Nader said.

On whether he would be encouraged to run if Clinton gets the Democratic nomination, Nader said, “It would make it more important that that be the case.”

He added that Clinton may face a challenge in her own state from wealthy Republican New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“I think her main problem may well be right in New York City, Michael Bloomberg. They’re talking in the Bloomberg camp of a possible run. I’m saying he’ll give more diversity, for sure, and he’ll focus on urban problems. But I might say, he’s got the money to do it,” Nader said.

Matthew Yglesias notes that some see some good in Nader’s previous campaigns as it moved the Democratic Party further to the left. I agree with Matthew in rejecting this argument: “Now, was that a price worth paying for the dead in Iraq, the torture, etc.? I don’t really think so.” Kevin Drum questions if the Democratic Party is even more liberal now than in 2000. The Plank argues that areas where Democrats have moved to the left happed despite Nader running due to changing events such as loss of manufacturing jobs and increased income inequality. Steve Benen is “terribly uncomfortable with the very idea of Nader having been right about any of the political choices he’s made over the last seven years” and also questions whether, even if Nader’s strategy was successful, is was “worth the incredibly high costs.”

Update: Transcript of CNN interview with Ralph Nader

Now Is The Time For Democrats To Discuss Their Plans

The New York Times, along with the Washington Post, summarizes the statements of the Democratic candidates on the war before the Democratic National Committee. I’ve already posted on this based upon earlier media reports, but there was one more general quotation which caught my eye from Barack Obama:

Mr. Obama spent little time on Iraq, instead arguing that the biggest opponent candidates face this year is not one another but cynicism.

“It’s a cynicism that asks us to believe that our opponents are never just wrong, that they’re bad; that our motives in politics can never be pure, that they’re only driven by power and by greed; that the challenges that we face today aren’t just daunting, but they’re impossible,” he said. “And if this is true, then politics is not a noble calling, it’s a game; it’s a blood sport with folks keeping score about who’s up and who’s down.”

Mr. Obama suggested that in this environment, people should not look to campaigns for dry lists of programs. “There are those who don’t believe in talking about hope. They say, ‘Well, we want specifics; we want details; we want white papers; we want plans.’ We’ve had a lot of plans, Democrats. What we’ve had is a shortage of hope.”

I hope that Obama is not following the course Edwards also started of running a feel-good campaign while avoiding specifics on the issues when it is specifics that we need to hear from the two candidates who have the least experience in government. Concentration on general principles but lacking specific answers has also been my major criticism of Obama. I fear they have learned well how to fight the last battle but are not ready for the current one. This also raises questions as to whether they are ready to govern.

In past years Republicans did win based upon the general feeling they created about the parties rather than on specific issues. In 2004 Democrats should have won in a landslide based upon polling results on the issues rather than the personalities. However it is no longer 2004. Since 2004 the country has seen the failings from Katrina and Iraq. Voters are ready for people who actually have plans that work, even if they weren’t willing to listen to Democratic plans in the past.

I already commented on this weeks column from David Brooks where he labels the Republicans the “impractical, ideological party.” He reaches this conclusion based upon papers written by Duke students on their political philosophy: (more…)

Republicans: The Impractical, Ideological Party

A New York Times columnist has labeled the Republicans the “impractical, ideological party.” No, its not one of those liberal writers. It’s David Brooks! Brooks writes that he taught a course in political philosophy at Duke “as part of my lifelong quest to teach at every college I never could have gotten into out of high school.” He had the students write a paper on their political philosophy and found a strong centrist trend. He concluded that this is not good for the Republicans:

If my Duke students are representative, then the U.S. is about to see a generation that is practical, anti-ideological, modest and centrist (maybe to a fault).

That’s probably good news for presidential candidates like Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton, whose main selling point is their nuts-and-bolts ability to get things done.

But over all it’s bad news for Republicans. While the G.O.P. was once thought of as the practical, businesslike party, now most of my students see the Republicans as the impractical, ideological party — on social and science issues as well as foreign and domestic policy.

That’s not the way to win the children of polarization.

Update: This column is discussed further in the subsequent post.