Friday, April 02, 2004

The Ralph problem
Transcript via Kos poster ckerr:
Audio Clip
President Carter: [speaking to an audience]: I have a friend named Ralph Nader. He was trusted enough by my family to have been permitted in Plains, Georgia to umpire a softball game where I pitched on one side and my brother pitched on the other side. That's a lot of confidence. When I was president he gave me a lot of advice. And tonight I want to return the favor by giving him some advice.

[Audience applauds]

President Carter: Ralph, go back to umpiring softball games or examining the rear end of automobiles, and don't risk costing the Democrats the White House this year as you did four years ago.

[Audience applauds louder]

I love Jimmy Carter. But I don't think this is the tone we need right now.

The more we liberals pitch bricks at Ralph, the more likely he is to dig in and start shooting back. The longer Ralph holds out, the uglier this gets. The primaries came close enough to turning into the usual election year circular firing squad on the left. We avoided that only because the primary voters and caucus participants had an unusual moment of clarity and focused on the goal of getting rid of Bush. Now we have the Ralph problem.

I hear some Democrats saying we should destroy Nader and be done with him. It's nice to feel the pure fire of righteous rage at Ralph for being a spoiler, but we cannot afford that emotion this year. It's a luxury. Beating Ralph isn't going to get rid of Bush. A fight on the left will only end up making voters stay home. We need Ralph's voters. We need Ralph's issues. We need Ralph.

This has to stop being a confrontation and start being a negotiation. Any deal that gets Ralph to withdraw and endorse Kerry must be embraced (providing the deal isn't so sleazy it drives voters away). I'm not sure who can broker that deal. Maybe Dean. Establishment Democrats, Deaniacs, Greens, and liberal independents need to act like grown-ups for a change. Too much is at stake this year.

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