Ralph Nader Lashes Back

‘The New York Times,’ Todd Gitlin, Katha Pollitt, Gloria Steinem, Jack Newfield—Frightened Liberals All

What about Harry Evans? He said he wanted to kill you. Have you heard from him?
I called him. He said it was 2:30 in the morning and people were boisterously drinking and [Bill] Clinton was listing states that he thought the Greens would cost Gore. When someone said Florida was in play, Evans made the remark. He unreservedly apologized to me.

Supposedly the word went out that you shouldn't show your face on the Hill, that Democrats might not receive your phone calls. Do you have any sense that you'll be ostracized?
Gore beat Gore. His own Democrats in three Florida counties wouldn't support him—one took a holiday so the counting didn't get finished; another said they just wouldn't count. The Democrats must also be angry at Bush, who got 10 times more Democratic votes then I did in Florida. And at Gore, who couldn't carry his home state and wouldn't send Clinton to campaign in Arkansas. By the same logic, they will gleefully return Pat Buchanan's calls. Why wouldn't they call us if they need support on a certain issue?

Teddy Kennedy told a friend that he thought the progressive Democratic hand will be strengthened because of the Greens. In Washington, Maria Cantwell won by 2229 votes and there was no Green Party candidate running.

My critics are "willing to settle for a stagnant, indentured corporate Democratic Party."
photo: Andrew Lichtenstein
My critics are "willing to settle for a stagnant, indentured corporate Democratic Party."

If they're going to blame me for [Gore losing], they have to credit me for helping them get a 50-50 Senate rather than losing it again. Credit me for helping reform election machinery that probably in the past kept out more Democratic votes than Republican.

Not only were you kept out of the debates, you were more or less kept out of The New York Times. Has the paper of record thwarted your effort to build a third party?
The Times believes there should just be two parties, and a party like the Green Party, in that memorable phrase, "clutters" the playing field. A remarkable position for a newspaper that believes in the First Amendment and has excoriated politicians for corrupt campaign funding that the Green Party wanted to eliminate. That will go down as the most indefensible intellectual exercise that ever appeared on New York Times editorial columns, which were basically rantings. The Washington Post invited me to speak at their editorial office, and The Wall Street Journal invited two op-eds. The Times never did either.

Tom Friedman is a source of humor. He's so off the edge that he bellows in his column, he rages, it really makes our day. Here's a man who fancies himself an expert on global trade and has never read global trade agreements. I would give him the nomination as the columnist who has traveled more extensively and regularly around the world and has learned the least.

Anything you would have done differently in your campaign?
I would have started earlier and called up these so-called critics had I had the clairvoyance to realize they were getting cold feet. The only true aging is the erosion of one's ideals. They're people of increasingly low expectations. That's the definition of a frightened liberal.

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