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Sanity

Brad D describes Barbara Ehrenreich's latest, an anti-Nader piece, as a return to sanity. If this is sanity, I'm a famous consumer advocate:

So, Ralph, sit down. Pour yourself a Diet Pepsi and rejoice in the fact that -- post-Enron and post-Iraq war -- millions have absorbed your message. You're entitled to a little time out now, a few weeks on the beach catching up on back issues of The Congressional Record. Meanwhile, I've thrown my mighty weight behind Dennis Kucinich, who, unnoticed by the media, is still soldiering along on the campaign trail. In the event that he fails to get the Democratic nomination, I'll have to consider my options.
I'm detecting no signs of sanity here. Millions have absorbed Ralph's message that it fundamentally doesn't matter whether the donkeys are the elephants are in power? The reverse seems to have happened; isn't that why Ehrenreich doesn't want him to run? And speaking of elephants -- there's a huge, whopping, insane element in this room named "Dennis Kucinich." Her return to political sanity is to throw her "mighty weight behind Dennis Kucinich" and if "he fails to get the Democratic nomination, [she]'ll have to consider [her] options." That's not sanity, and unlike the 2000 Nader endorsement it's not even radicalism. That's madness.   

July 18, 2004 | Permalink

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» Evolution of a Nader supporter from Ken Sain
Now comes 2004, and Bush has been much worse than anyone could imagine. There were three progressive candidates running in the Democratic primaries (Al Sharpton, Carol Moseley-Braun and Dennis Kucinich). Howard Dean's anti-war positions made him a po... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 18, 2004 7:44:47 AM

» Whenfore Art Thou, Barbara? from Pandagon
Has Barbara Ehrenreich lost her mind?Meanwhile, I've thrown my mighty weight behind Dennis Kucinich, who, unnoticed by the media, is still soldiering along on the campaign trail. In the event that he fails to get the Democratic nomination, I'll have... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 18, 2004 11:42:36 AM

» Bizarre Op-Ed of the Day from MonkeyFilter
Note: the date this op-ed was published is July 18, 2004. Barbara Ehrenreich tells Ralph Nader that it's over (when did it ever begin) and then writes this: [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 18, 2004 7:46:05 PM

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» Barbara Ehrenreich and Liberal Bloggers from hiphopmusic.com
Barbara Ehrenreich recently started filling in for Tom Friedman in the NY Times op-ed pages, and some liberal bloggers are not taking it very well. Most of the A-List lefty bloggers are not really all that far to the left,... [Read More]

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» Barbara Ehrenreich and Liberal Bloggers from hiphopmusic.com
Barbara Ehrenreich recently started filling in for Tom Friedman in the NY Times op-ed pages, and some liberal bloggers are not taking it very well. Most of the A-List lefty bloggers are not really all that far to the left,... [Read More]

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Comments

Think of it as a 12 step program, with the first step to admit that Ralph is the wrong idea this time. 'We admit that following Ralph's pre & proscriptions makes our political life unmanageable'. One only hopes that she will reach step 8 before November...

Posted by: liberal japonicus | Jul 18, 2004 6:11:22 AM

I see it as having to sound crazy in order to be understood by a crazy person. Reason doesn't work on the guy, so you have to resort to weird, flattering falsehoods to get through ("Millions of people have absorbed your message, Ralph! Kucinich is your torchbearer!")

Think of world-weary orderlies in an asylum, telling an inmate that yes, he is the rightful Emperor of Earth, just so he'll climb down off the ceiling and take his meds.

Posted by: FMguru | Jul 18, 2004 6:26:58 AM

i should go read th article, but my reading of the paragraph was quite different from yours. First, I understood Barabra's allusion to ralph's message to mean his message of government regulation of corporations. That interpretation is certainly more pertinent to the examples given. Secondly, Barbar's "support" of Kucinich seemed to be blatantly tongue-and-cheek.

Posted by: Michael | Jul 18, 2004 7:43:48 AM

And my favorite part is, "Who could have imagined" how awful Bush would be? Gee, Babs -- how about MILLIONS OF US pre-November 2000? A Texas Republican says he's a "moderate" and a "compasionate cobnservative"? Yeah, and I date Nicole Kidman. Take a hike, Ehrenreich.

Posted by: Nick | Jul 18, 2004 7:54:30 AM

Matt, I haven't been paying too much attention to the guy, but I think that Ralph may have more than one message. I seem to recall something about corporations having too much power in America. And it looks like Ehrenreich makes a passing reference to Democrats taking up Ralphie's "vision of peace and social justice." Now, maybe this is just a subtle, indirect way of saying that Democrats are realizing that their party must be just like the Republicans. Or, perhaps Ehrenreich is referring to one of Ralph's other messages as part of her delicate attempt to tiptoe around the blatant contradiction of citing the equal worthlessness of the two parties in her argument against a third party candidate.

Posted by: Dan | Jul 18, 2004 8:55:03 AM

Well, it seems pretty silly and misguided. But tossing around the word "insanity" so casually makes you sound like a troll on a comment line.

Posted by: Levi | Jul 18, 2004 8:56:07 AM

As a commenter pointed upthread, Barbara's Kucinich comment was tongue-in-cheek.
Matt didn't get it.

Posted by: ecoast | Jul 18, 2004 9:20:03 AM

To be honest, I'm not sure if I got it.

I think what is meant, is that various progressive ideals are way more popular now than they were. More in the meainstream, more commonly talked about, etc.

But is that because of Nader? No. I don't think so. I think that's because of the increased amount of information that's out there now, that the word is getting out faster.

In 2000, Nader did absolutly nothing in order to get the word out. A bunch of fund-raising "Super Rallies", is only preaching to the choir. His campaign in 2000 was that Bush equals Gore. So of course she was blindsided by Bush. But it was by HER choice. Nobody elses.

Posted by: Karmakin | Jul 18, 2004 10:22:55 AM

Why can't the left EVER understand that the alternative to the good is bad, not the perfect? California Republicans voted in droves for the abortion-loving, gay-loving Arnold so they could win. The left doesn't seem to understand that winning is more important than ideology.

Posted by: Tom R | Jul 18, 2004 10:56:53 AM

Do all the nouveau anti-Naderites here believe that Nader was a reasonable, honest force for progress right up until 2000 when he turned into a rabble rousing charlatan or have any of you spotted that the consumer advocacy on which he built his reputation, was also the work of a hysterical, ignorant, demagogue? Because if you supported him when he was smearing and destroying good businesses you have little right to complain when he turns on the left.

Posted by: Pob | Jul 18, 2004 10:56:59 AM

Matt, look in the dictionary, under the word "irony".

I love ya, man, but you missed this one.

Posted by: pfc | Jul 18, 2004 11:11:27 AM

I've known people who support hopeless causes like Nader and Kucinich before, and I think they actually prefer the freedom from responsibility that comes with being out of power.

I believe that they think if they support someone who actually wins, they become partly responsible for the problems they see surrounding them.

Posted by: Fred Arnold | Jul 18, 2004 11:17:21 AM

Unquestionably tongue-in-cheek. I get the sense Matt's a bit stuck in his contrarian stance on Ehrenreich. She ain't perfect, but she ain't all bad either.

Posted by: Judy | Jul 18, 2004 12:00:45 PM

My father used to tell me that what Matt tells me about Barbara tells me more about Matt than it does about Barbara.

Of course, we already know a little about Matt. Too young to have experienced much beyond a private school education, university courses in philosophy, and the Spiderman movies in which this philosophy finds a practical application, he's clearly no Barbara.

This latest post seems to be a sort of Roschach inkblot blog, into which each reader can read their own meaning. At least we can confidently state that no actual leftists have been harmed in the making of this comment.

I agree with Tom R that the left doesn't think winning is more important than beliefs. Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Saddam- all began by telling us what great leftists they were (how about a big serving of National SOCIALISM?) and came to a bad end. So now it's a bad thing if leftists don't fall for that gag? I don't think so.

At the end of the day I'm inclined to think that MY basically likes the right-wing aspects of Kerry, and possibly wishes they were even more right-wing.

It would be interesting, though, to see how MY called the 2000 elections before the vote. Did he really realize Bush would produce the largest deficit, the most useless war, and the biggest crackdown on the Bill of Rights in our history?

Even I, lil ol' blogless me, got some comments on the public record in local newspapers before the last election. So how about it, Matt- post some examples about how you tried to warn us?

Or is that even funnier than the idea of you taking a job as a janitor so you can see how the rest of us live?

Posted by: serial catowner | Jul 18, 2004 12:07:42 PM


I actually am quite aware that I am not really welcome in the Democratic Party, but I'm supporting Kerry anyway. However, I think that it would be wise and prudent for environment-hating, civil-liberties-indifferent Democratic hawks not to let it become excessively clear how much contempt they have the accursed Naderites, and how little influence they plan to let us ever have. Some of us are probably not as humble and sweet-tempered as me.

Clinton and the business Democrats had some great successes, but they enormously damaged the Democratic Party, in practical and not merely idealistic terms. If the Democrats had listened to Nader while he was working with Democrats, they would be much better off now. Things like corporate governance (Enron), voting rights and access, media equal time, and others.

The people who didn't listen to Nader before 2000 now believe they have a retroactive excuse to forget everything he ever tried to say. In Matt's case that's easy, since he never knew any of that stuff to begin with.

So anyway, Brad and Matt, chill until Nov. 3, when you will be able tontake your revenge with impunity.

Posted by: Zizka | Jul 18, 2004 12:33:03 PM

I'm really starting to get pissed off by Ralph Nader. Sure, the Democrats have a lot of problems. Bill Maher might have said it best when he stated that the difference between the Republicans and Democrats is that the Democrats are "bought out by a slightly less scary group of special interests." (Or perhaps Lewis Black had it best when he said that one sucks and the other blows.) But for him to fail to realize, or possibly deny, that there's going to be no difference between a Bush and Kerry presidency is just idiotic and strange. And if his damn ego is so huge that he simply can't bow out, I have lost a lot of respect for him.

As for Kucinich, why is he still on the campaign trail? He can't believe that he has a shot at getting on the ticket. I can only imagine that he's simply trying to prove a point or spread a message, both of which are fine, I guess. Yet I wonder if he could be doing some damage. He's so far to the left that he would actually meet someone like Pat Buchanan from the right, if we go by that political circle idea. I don't want this guy to scare away any independent voters.

Posted by: Brian | Jul 18, 2004 12:43:43 PM

"Yeah, and I date Nicole Kidman. Take a hike, Ehrenreich."

Ooooo, burn.

Posted by: Brian | Jul 18, 2004 12:45:38 PM

I don't care for Ms. Ehrenreich's opinions (although I am deeply ashamed to say that when I was 16, I was a card-carrying member of the organization she then co-chaired, the Democratic Socialists of America) but today's column is interesting. Although I voted for Mr. Gore, I was never angry at Mr. Nader. He had a right to run, after all. I never felt "betrayed" by Mr. Nader, either because I simply didn't share his left-wing views. But Mr. Nader's repeated insistence that his candidacy had nothing to do with Mr. Bush's election as U.S. President was and is dishonest. Barbara Ehrenreich is more honest. She admits that she knew her support for Mr. Nader would help Mr. Bush defeat Mr. Gore, and that she didn't much care.

I appreciate Ms. Ehrenreich's honesty in this particular.

Posted by: Arjun | Jul 18, 2004 12:46:31 PM

"The left doesn't seem to understand that winning is more important than ideology."

Well, to take your example of California, if the damn Republicans cared so much about winning, why would they nominate a conservative like Bill Simon instead of a moderate or liberal Republican like Richard Riordan? It goes both ways.

Anyway, I see your point. Sometimes, you have to be a grown up to win. But if we go too far, we can end up like the Bush administration, which seems to place winning above all else.

Posted by: Brian | Jul 18, 2004 12:53:11 PM

I posted this same comment at Pandagon, but I'll share it here as well:

I think it's a joke, and I also think it's a subtle reminder to the Naderites that they should seriously consider working within the system this time. Yes, I know the nomination's a done deal, but Ohio's important enough (and Kucinich is a big enough player in Democratic enclaves in Northeastern Ohio) that Dennis will get heard. After all, why do you think Northeast Ohio's other Democratic congressperson, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, got the DNC co-chair? Stephanie can deliver oodles of Cleveland east side votes. Dennis, however, has the machine on the west side and can bring in the white working-class vote (his traditional base) in ways that Stephanie can't. Sad, ironic, but true. Kerry won't totally dis him -- not if he has any sense.

Posted by: nolo (in lovely Cleveland, Ohio) | Jul 18, 2004 12:57:19 PM

Seems to be a little confusion here.

AFTER the convention, the party faithful will support the candidate and the platform. That's their WYSIWYG proposal to the voters.

BEFORE the convention, party members have other obligations. If your precinct elected you as a Dean delegate, you have a responsibility to the precinct caucus to stay a Dean delegate until something changes. If you asked the members of a group to support you because you would fight for a party plank, you should probably try to keep that promise. Candidates with no hope of winning may show up at the convention- in fact, I believe that was the case with Woodrow Wilson.

Naturally there are books, movies, and magazine articles about this vast subject, but the best way to learn is to become a delegate. If you show up at one precinct meeting you can probably be a delegate to the county, and if you go to the county convention you can probably become a delegate to the state, almost definitely if you go twice.

So don't get your knickers in a knot because some delegates are still supporting their candidates. It's part of the process.

Posted by: serial catowner | Jul 18, 2004 1:07:18 PM

Yeah, I know, ya gotme- Wilson didn't LITERALLY show up at the convention, but cannily stayed out of sight, or so the movie says. I'm an American, not an expert. So sue me.

But do see the movie, which will undoubtedly be on the tube again as the election nears. It wears pretty well.

Posted by: serial catowner | Jul 18, 2004 1:11:44 PM

Zizka: I'm surprised whenever you say that you don't feel welcome in the Democratic party. The party is not a single entity with a coherent view, but a bunch of bickering factions that share a couple of basic values (no government regulation of orgies; poor people should not be made into Soylent Green), but total disagreement over details and priorities. It's too bad that Thomas Nast made the Democrats the donkey: the joke about the blind men and the elephant would work pretty well.

Liberal hawks of Matt's type are a minority faction in the Democratic party. Anti-environmentalists are a minority faction in the Democratic party.

The Clintonites are probably a minority faction in the Democratic party. The reason the Clinton faction is successful within the party is because Clinton was successful at the ballot box. Success is the currency of politics. If Jerry Brown had won the Presidency in '92, a completely different set of people would feel excluded.

Posted by: Walt Pohl | Jul 18, 2004 1:12:14 PM

Walt Pohl,

You can make that argument for pretty much anything. If Pataki wins the nomination some day, the social conservatives will feel left out.

I'm not trying to sound combative when I say this, so please don't take it that way. I'm just wondering what your point is, because I feel like you have one that I'm not getting.

Posted by: Brian | Jul 18, 2004 1:34:55 PM

That, of course, would be the irony here. Matt's blog has recently told us that environmentalism is largely silly, that the US has an obligation to provide 'security' for the world, and that free trade, like castor oil, is 'good for us'.

Now he's taking time out of his busy schedule to lecture us on being Good Democrats.

Yep, it takes all kinds.

Posted by: serial catowner | Jul 18, 2004 1:48:04 PM

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