The Rap on Ralph

Angry Democrats Eat Their Greens

Let's not forget the Bush brigade. As Katha Pollitt wrote in The Nation, "It's not Nader's fault that huge numbers of voters don't care if Bush is a reactionary moron and find his Christian frat boy act appealing." But Pollitt says Gore could have galvanized voters by taking a risk—any risk. He could have come out in favor of a moratorium on the death penalty, or against Plan Colombia. At the very least, he could have agreed to debate Nader's issues.

Dream on. By last Friday, the Democrats had adopted a new strategy: Stop talking about Nader altogether. Under the headline "Ignore Nader," a posting on the DLC Web site says it "makes no sense" to give Nader credit for deciding the election, given his "extremist views" and "pulp-novel conspiracy theories." The unsigned missive complains that Nader is getting undeserved media attention, even after the election. Clearly, he's been sent to Siberia.

But censoring dissidents has a downside, as the Times has learned. Katha Pollitt put it this way: "Clinton triangulated against the left, but Gore acted as if the left didn't exist. You can't blame the left if it came back to bite him on the behind."

Bush Comes to Shove

On November 13, both The Washington Post and The New Yorker identified the man who first called Florida for Bush: John Ellis, who heads the election desk at Fox News—and just happens to be W.'s cousin. Ellis says he was interpreting numbers from the Voter News Service; after his 2 a.m. call prompted Fox to declare Bush the winner, everyone else followed suit. The New York Times' Richard Berke quoted Ellis at length on the 13th, without ever mentioning his role in the phantom victory.

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