Okay, full disclosure here. First of all, I voted for Nader in 2000, which I will elaborate on. Second, I am "Tek Jansen" in the comments of LaSalle's post, if you can't already tell by the overgrown hedges of angry clauses there.
Now, as to LaSalle's comments about how he "knew" that Bush would be "this bad" because he "paid attention". Well, I paid attention as well. I saw and read up on all the rotten shit Bush pulled on McCain in the South Carolina primary. The portion of history that was on the record was problematic enough; the parts that were only hinted at bespoke even worse character flaws. It was pretty obvious, as LaSalle says, that Bush was intellectually and temperamentally unsuitable for the job. No shit -- he was unsuitable to be even a nominee of an ostensibly serious political party. And yet, there he was, in full stammering glory, as dumb as the day is long.
But can you extrapolate from that that he would subsequently: enable a catastrophic energy crisis forced on the nation's largest state by a bunch of Texas bunco artists; ignore detailed warnings of imminent terrorist attacks; leave incomplete a necessary military action to initiate an unnecessary invasion and occupation; squander hundreds of thousands of lives, hundreds of billions of dollars, and the heretofore sacrosanct civil rights of American citizens and the principles of the Geneva Convention; and so many other, endlessly enumerated atrocities? No, I honestly don't think you can.
Speaking for myself, I rather naïvely assumed that enough people would have enough goddamned sense to see a fool when he was staring them in the face, and not vote for him. Stupid me; I had briefly forgotten my Mencken and presumed that at least enough of my fella 'merkins had their wits about them. I have certainly not made that mistake since. I did not, however, instantly ascribe some sort of transcendent level of malice or indifference to the guy because he was a demonstrably stupid legacy thug. The world is full of such people; 99% of them do not do the things George W. Bush does and did. Usually they just snicker when they take up that second parking space or cut you off in traffic. So it's a fallacious assumption.
I find this particularly galling. Nader -- and in turn, the people who voted for him -- may be indirectly responsible for 9/11 and the Iraq War, not to mention the recent untimely passing of America's Rose, Anna Nicole Smith. I do agree with LaSalle's assertion, a rather common one over the past several years, that a Gore presidency and NSA would have taken the "Bin Laden Plans To Strike With Hijacked Planes In The U.S." reports quite seriously, vacation or no.
But I went through all this in the chat fora back in 2000. I heard time and fucking again how I owed my vote to Gore. I never heard them say any of this to their fellow Democrats who had defected in much larger numbers to vote for Bush, mind you. That was apparently just fucking jake. After all, Bush, simpleton or no, was the standard-bearer for one of the accepted Parties; therefore, he had been vetted by the hallowed process. The people had spoken, God damn them.
But after all is said and done, Nader's original point for running was and is still essentially correct -- corporate underwriting of the legislative process has taken governance further away from the interests of an already-dwindling middle class. And corporate underwriting of both the campaign finance process and the endless media campaign-industrial complex has perverted and corrupted the very essence of the system itself, to where even basic points of dialogue and debate are incontrovertibly altered.
In 2000, that translated into the effervescent media Heathers cooing and grunting at utterly meaningless things -- Gore's chick advisor told him to wear earth tones; Gore sighed at the debate; Gore moved awkwardly at another debate; Gore thinks he's soooo fucking smart -- smarter than you, Joe Lunchpail, who let yourself be bamboozled by "family values" nonsense not once, but twice, to vote directly against your own self-interest.
I ask again -- how is this all Nader's fault? The only reason someone like George W. Bush gets anywhere near the White House in the first place is because of the systematic dumbassification of Americans. A country with a lick of common sense would know better than to give him any more responsibility than a junior-varsity towel-boy.
We can go round and round on the 583-votes-in-Florida issue all damned day; bottom line is that thousands of Floridians who had voted for Clinton went for Bush, and thousands more were "accidentally" disenfranchised by Jeb!s political ChoicePoint allies. And when the Republican rent-a-mobs harassed the recounts (which probably would have ended in Gore's favor, had they been allowed to complete), and when Jim Baker slithered over there to "help", did Gore's team step up and counter any of these overly provocative actions? Fuck no. They took the high road straight home.
And fuck Florida anyway. Gore didn't need Florida. All he had to do was carry his own goddamned home state. Jesus H. Christ, he couldn't even pull that off. Once again, why is this Nader's fault? Why is this my fucking problem? Why are a candidate's manifest shortcomings projected onto a "spoiler" who refused to recognize his diminished place in a supposedly free political system, and thence to that spoiler candidate's principled, if disaffected constituency?
It is always a political candidate's job to convince the voter why he or she is a good choice. I listened to Gore's sales pitch. I came very close to voting for him. And he has absolutely acquitted himself extremely well since then. But I was also pissed at the needlessly squandered brilliance of Clinton, countless possibilities splashed across that intern's tonsils. And Gore seemed woefully unprepared for dealing with the slime machine he was up against. These people are sore winners; they couldn't even resist making up the "Clenis' team stole all the w's" story. What kind of losers do you think they'd have been, especially with an intact Republican congress?
Having said all that, I will also say this about Nader, that both as a person and as a politician, he is too dogmatically rigid to ever be truly effective in an arena that requires daily compromise. He would be a terrible president, and his appearance in 2004 was little more than a cruel joke. His time in the political spotlight is done, and his recent Daily Show appearance did nothing to sway me on that opinion. At this point, he seems to take pride in being a jerk; he has to know that he could be far more effective and meaningful finding subsets of Democratic groups he could help empower and enfranchise in the debate, instead of increasingly coming off like a lone crank.
But 2000 was a different time; we had eight years of relative peace and prosperity; economic indicators were high; foreign policy looked strong and just; and the opportunity to refocus one small part of the debate on something other than a smooth corporate agenda seemed apt. We forget that in our presumptions about Nader and the people who voted for him; it barely merits saying that had we known then what we know now, that not only was Bush a retard, but an irretrievably dangerous one, we would have played it safe, stuck our idealism back up our asses and voted for Gore.
My question to the people who can't seem to give up the Nader hate is this -- have they ever gotten (or even tried to get) any similar concession out of the people who voted for Bush/Cheney, not once, but twice and were proud of that shit? No? Well then, climb out of our asses already, because you have about 10-12 times as many people who "owed" their sacred vote to Gore and gave it to Bush. And until you resolve that little conundrum, this other shit's a waste of time.
Can't wait till next year, when the Democrats carefully try to calibrate their outflanking measures, as always dependent on what the opposition's tack is, and we have to listen once again to the godawful notion that their pathetic overtures to people that would just as soon gut them as vote for them is something for us to fucking rally behind.