Opinion: Ralph Nader talks trash about Barack Obama


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Ralph Nader irrevocably earned a spot on Democratic ‘don’t invite him’ lists when, in the view of virtually everyone except himself, his 2000 presidential bid cost Al Gore the White House and delivered it to George Bush.

Nader will go to his grave scoffing at such complaints; whenever asked, he insists that Gore has no one but himself to blame for the loss and presses his case that there’s virtually no difference between the two major parties because both are beholden to corporate interests.

He’s running for the umpteenth time again and, as he made clear in an interview this week with Denver’s Rocky Mountain News, there’s little worthwhile he sees in the latest Democratic pick for president.


Summarizing the interview, reporter M.E. Sprengelmeyer writes that Nader accused Barack Obama of ‘downplaying poverty issues, trying to ‘talk white’ and appealing to ‘white guilt’ during his run for the White House.’

The ‘talk white’ and ‘white guilt’ comments, of course, ensure Nader a burst of attention that his latest candidacy has been lacking up to now.

Here’s one of the Nader quotes from the article:

There’s only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comes to being a Democratic presidential candidate. He’s half African-American. Whether that will make any difference, I don’t know. I haven’t heard him have a strong crackdown on economic exploitation in the ghettos. Payday loans, predatory lending, asbestos, lead. What’s keeping him from doing that? Is it because he wants to talk white? He doesn’t want to appear like Jesse Jackson? We’ll see all that play out in the next few months and if he gets elected afterwards.

The full story and a video of the interview can be perused here.

Appearing on MSNBC a few minutes ago, Obama aide Robert Gibbs called Nader’s comments ‘reprehensible and basically delusional.’

They also are an interesting contrast to remarks Nader made about Ron Paul when pitching himself to Paul’s supporters earlier this month.

[UPDATE: At an afternoon news conference in Chicago, Obama was asked about Nader’s remarks and he responded cooly and without anger. ‘What’s clear is that Ralph Nader hasn’t been paying attention to my speeches’ because, he said, he frequently has addressed the issues Nader charged he had been ignoring. He dismissed the inflammatory language Nader used as a bid to try to get attention for a candidacy that has been mostly under the radar. ‘It’s a shame,’ he said, given Nader’s ‘extraordinary’ legacy as a crusader for consumer causes.]


[UPDATE II: In a stroke of good timing, the Washington Post today published this lengthy feature piece that covers his struggles to stir up interest in his campaign, the grief he still takes about the 2000 election and, in general, where he’s coming from.)

-- Don Frederick