[sixties-l] Fwd: Nader Lashes Back

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: 01/01/01

  • Next message: Ted Morgan: "Re: [sixties-l] Coup and Protests"

    >Published December 20 - 26, 2000
    >Village Voice
    >'The New York Times,' Todd Gitlin, Katha Pollitt, Gloria Steinem, Jack
    >Newfield, Frightened Liberals All
    >Ralph Nader Lashes Back
    >by Lenora Todaro
    >Scoundrel. Spoiler. Narcissist. This fall the left warred over
    >whether a vote for Nader was a vote for progress, a vote in protest,
    >or worse, a vote for Bush. As Gore lost Florida, Nader's critics
    >charged that his 97,000 or so votes in that state had cost the
    >Democrats the election. Never mind Katherine Harris, Jeb Bush and
    >his cousin at Fox news, uncounted African American votes, the
    >Florida courts, and finally, the U.S. Supreme Court.  And never
    >mind Gore himself. No, it all comes back to Ralph Nader. The Voice
    >asked him to respond.
    >A few days before the election a group of Nader's Raiders came out
    >against you and encouraged voters to pull the lever for Gore. Were
    >you betrayed by your own disciples?
    >These were people who worked
    >with me more than 25 years ago so they weren't exactly recent. Once
    >they emerged, they were supported by the Democratic PR operation
    >to get them on national media. They were 12 out of thousands of
    >former Nader Raiders. I think they have lower expectations and are
    >therefore willing to settle for a stagnant, indentured corporate
    >Democratic Party that can't even save our legislature from control
    >by the extreme wing of the Republican Party, by Tom DeLay, Newt
    >Gingrich, and Trent Lott. From what I know, none of them are
    >enthralled by the Democratic Party.
    >In the days just before and after the election it seemed that
    >everyone in the press had something negative to say about you. Todd
    >Gitlin and Sean Wilentz circulated an open letter that excoriated
    >you for running a "wrecking ball campaign, one that betrays the very
    >liberal and progressive values it claims to uphold." Can you respond
    >to that?
    >We embodied the progressive agenda, so what they're talking
    >about is tactics. And the question is whether the Democratic Party
    >should be legitimized further in its downward slide into looking
    >like Republicans or should there be an outside campaign to jolt it
    >back to its historical roots as a party of working families. I
    >advise Todd Gitlin to read some of his earlier books and refresh
    >his perspective on the concentration of power in this country.
    >Jack Newfield wrote in the New York Post that you should be "shunned
    >and shamed."
    >I would have appreciated if he had picked up the phone
    >and asked for my views. I moderately took him to task [in New York's
    >'98 senate campaign] for abandoning Mark Green and supporting Chuck
    >Schumer, and he never responded. He always renews himself, and now
    >he's a neoliberal.
    >Jacob Weisberg wrote in Slate that you had a "Leninist strategy of
    >heightening the contradictions" and that you adopted a
    >it-has-to-get-worse-to-get-better policy. Anything to that?
    >We were adopting a policy that says American people deserve significant
    >choices between two major parties and third parties. As far as
    >Leninist strategy, Tony Coehlo and the corporate Democratic National
    >Committee,which spawned Clinton, Gore, and Lieberman,have for 20
    >years destroyed the progressive agenda and excluded citizen's groups
    >from being able to affect policy in Washington, D.C., as they lunge
    >into protective imitation mode with Republicans. That means the
    >Democrats' strategy was to defeat the Republicans by taking Republican
    >issues away from them and becoming more like them.
    >Whenever you called Bush and Gore Tweedledum and Tweedledee, someone
    >would say, "What about the Supreme Court?" Now that the Supreme
    >Court appears to have decided the election for us, what about the
    >Supreme Court? Will it matter that Bush will nominate future justices
    >rather than Gore?
    >It matters that the Democratic Party sent Scalia
    >and Thomas to the Court while I was up there fighting their
    >nominations day after day. I even managed to persuade Joseph
    >Lieberman to vote against Thomas, something he pointed out to me
    >a year later. I couldn't get one Democratic senator to vote against
    >Scalia. He was confirmed 98-0, and the two absentees were Republican.
    >Every Democrat voted him in, including Al Gore. Thomas was confirmed
    >52-48, with 11 Democratic senators supporting him, and with a Senate
    >ruled by George Mitchell and the Democrats.
    >In an interview you did with In These Times, you spoke about the
    >Green Party strategy to "go after Congress district by district."
    >Some critics fear this means going after progressive Democrats. Do
    >the Greens want to unseat Paul Wellstone, Tom Hayden, and the like?
    >The aim of any party is to win, but it's not likely that any Green
    >could win against Wellstone or even Russ Feingold, for example.
    >Greens are more likely to win at the local level. It's sort of
    >foolish to indicate that Democrats are entitled to particular
    >voters, but Wellstone is not likely to have trouble in terms of
    >the Green platform.
    >By the way, not one of these critics called me to interview me or
    >to get my views. And they're reporters? They don't want to have
    >their fixed mindset challenged. Maybe Jacob [Weisberg] interviewed
    >me, but he never said, "Look, I think this and this. What's your
    >And Katha Pollitt, I called her. In my view, she was making incorrect
    >assumptions. I mean, I've fought for women's rights since the '50s.
    >I've been a leader in documenting marketplace discrimination against
    >women that jeopardizes their health, safety, and economic rights.
    >Women pay more, whether for dry cleaning or unnecessary operations.
    >This is something we could never get Ms. magazine and Gloria Steinem
    >to take an interest in. She never called me either, and she said
    >false things about me,that I only called her about platform shoes
    >(which, by the way, broke a lot of women's ankles). But we've talked
    >about the WTO, about the plight of African women when they come
    >down with malaria. Bobby Kennedy Jr. never called me. When they
    >don't call, you realize there's something less than authentic at
    >What about Harry Evans? He said he wanted to kill you. Have you
    >heard from him?
    >I called him. He said it was 2:30 in the morning
    >and people were boisterously drinking and [Bill] Clinton was listing
    >states that he thought the Greens would cost Gore. When someone
    >said Florida was in play, Evans made the remark. He unreservedly
    >apologized to me.
    >Supposedly the word went out that you shouldn't show your face on
    >the Hill, that Democrats might not receive your phone calls. Do
    >you have any sense that you'll be ostracized?
    >Gore beat Gore. His own Democrats in three Florida counties wouldn't 
    >support him, one
    >took a holiday so the counting didn't get finished; another said
    >they just wouldn't count. The Democrats must also be angry at Bush,
    >who got 10 times more Democratic votes then I did in Florida. And
    >at Gore, who couldn't carry his home state and wouldn't send Clinton
    >to campaign in Arkansas. By the same logic, they will gleefully
    >return Pat Buchanan's calls. Why wouldn't they call us if they need
    >support on a certain issue?
    >Teddy Kennedy told a friend that he thought the progressive Democratic
    >hand will be strengthened because of the Greens. In Washington,
    >Maria Cantwell won by 2229 votes and there was no Green Party
    >candidate running.
    >If they're going to blame me for [Gore losing], they have to credit
    >me for helping them get a 50-50 Senate rather than losing it again.
    >Credit me for helping reform election machinery that probably in
    >the past kept out more Democratic votes than Republican.
    >Not only were you kept out of the debates, you were more or less
    >kept out of The New York Times. Has the paper of record thwarted
    >your effort to build a third party?
    >The Times believes there should
    >just be two parties, and a party like the Green Party, in that
    >memorable phrase, "clutters" the playing field. A remarkable position
    >for a newspaper that believes in the First Amendment and has
    >excoriated politicians for corrupt campaign funding that the Green
    >Party wanted to eliminate. That will go down as the most indefensible
    >intellectual exercise that ever appeared on New York Times editorial
    >columns, which were basically rantings. The Washington Post invited
    >me to speak at their editorial office, and The Wall Street Journal
    >invited two op-eds. The Times never did either.
    >Tom Friedman is a source of humor. He's so off the edge that he
    >bellows in his column, he rages, it really makes our day. Here's
    >a man who fancies himself an expert on global trade and has never
    >read global trade agreements. I would give him the nomination as
    >the columnist who has traveled more extensively and regularly around
    >the world and has learned the least.
    >Anything you would have done differently in your campaign?
    >I would have started earlier and called up these so-called critics had I
    >had the clairvoyance to realize they were getting cold feet. The
    >only true aging is the erosion of one's ideals. They're people of
    >increasingly low expectations. That's the definition of a frightened

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