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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Wednesday, July 23, 2003


Gang Green

posted by Aziz P. at Wednesday, July 23, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Michael Tomasky takes on Ralph Nader and those Greens who are, as he puts it, "left-wing lions of ideological chastity." In addition to making the best summarized case of why it's self-interest defeating for Green party members to actually vote Green in 2004, he makes a suggestion that's audacious beyond words - that to counter the threat of Nader and a Green candidate for President in 2004, the Democrats need to attack Nader - ferociously, and immediately:

Attack Nader right now, and with lupine ferocity. Say he's a madman for thinking of running again. Blast him especially hard on foreign policy, saying that if it were up to the Greens, America would give no aid to Israel and it would cease to exist, and if it were up to the Greens, America would not have even defended itself against a barbarous attack by going into Afghanistan. Have at him, and hard, from the right. Then nail him from the left on certain social issues, on abortion rights and other things that he's often pooh-poohed and dismissed as irrelevant. Cause an uproar. Be dramatic. Don't balance it with praise about what he's done for consumers. To the contrary, talk about how much he's damaging consumers today by not caring who's in charge of the Food and Drug Administration or the Federal Communications Commission.

This would be, for some clever Democrat, the defining Sister Souljah moment of this campaign. Except times 50, because Sister Souljah was a second-tier rapper no one had heard of and Ralph Nader is one of the most famous Americans of the last half-century. Anyone who did this would automatically look tough. The candidates are running around now saying things like, "I'll be as tough as Bush." Well, you can say that 7,000 times and it doesn't matter. You have to do something to show people you're tough. That's the only way a message like that is delivered in a campaign. Then, people will look at what you've done and say, "Hey, that guy's pretty tough."

Who should do it? That's up to them. It wouldn't have much impact coming from Joe Lieberman, because he's not hunting for any votes over there in anything close to Nader territory. It has to be someone with at least one leg in the liberal soil -- John Kerry, Dick Gephardt or Howard Dean. Yes, Dean. If Dean does this, he doesn't lose his base -- his base is pissed-off Democrats who hate Nader for 2000, so if anything, he augments his standing among them. And, of course, he sends a reassuring signal to the centrist wing of the party that fears his success; it would give them something about him to admire. He can't lose.

I'm always bemused by controversial advice to Dean on how to win by people who still haven't endorsed him or are hedging their bets. If Tomasky came out and said "I support Howard Dean, he has my personal endorsement, and this is my advice" then I might be a little less skeptical.

But I can't really find any factual fault with Tomasky's analysis either. I mean, what exactly has Ralph Nader done in recent years that lets him keep his Saint Ralph halo? and certtainly Nader hasn't shown any restraint in his ferocious attacks on Democrats, notably Gore. And I'm still firmly convinced that we do need to thread that delicate line between wooing Green voters on the issues whil repudiating all things Nader. Might this be the answer?


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.