Ralph Nader ready to run a whole slate of far-left candidates against Obama or something

It’s a fine line between stupid and clever. Which side of that line is this on?

Nader proposes to assemble a large group of Democratic candidates to take Obama to task on a variety of issues.

The press would ignore one lesser-known candidate, Nader told The Daily Caller, but an unorthodox “slate” of candidates would attract more attention.

“So you have to have several people of distinguished backgrounds — different distinguished backgrounds — run as a slate in various primaries so that he can’t ignore someone who has a military-foreign policy background, environmental background, poverty-labor background. See what I mean?” Nader explained.

Multiple candidates would also be more powerful, he declared.

Gut reaction: It’s stupid because instead of one protest candidate pulling five or 10 percent of the vote against O, you’ll have five protest candidates pulling just one or two percent. How’s that for shaping a “base revolts!” narrative? But is there really a zero-sum number of anti-Obama votes to be split among a slate of candidates? If you’re a liberal who’s really into environmentalism, for instance, a primary challenger running exclusively on your issue might get you to turn out and vote whereas a more generic progressive challenger, like Russ Feingold, might not. Nader might actually succeed in drumming up more total votes against The One this way, thereby reducing his overall percentage in the primaries, than he would if a single all-purpose protest candidate was running. Obviously that depends on how high-profile that hypothetical all-purpose candidate was: If a big name like Feingold or Howard Dean ran, the promise of serious media attention to his candidacy would excite the lefty base in a way that no slate of “people with distinguished backgrounds” could. So maybe that would produce higher net turnout. Problem is, none of those big names is running, so Nader’s making the best of a bleak situation. He knows Obama will be the nominee; all he can hope to do is reduce his overall take of the vote and in the process maybe provide a little media juice for some of the far left’s pet causes. If one of the protest candidates is running on a “we should have Mirandized Bin Laden” platform or whatever and he ends up pulling 10 percent of the Democratic vote, well, there’s your headline. It wouldn’t be a surprising headline, but oh well. So maybe this is kinda sorta clever.

Exit question: Er, isn’t this good news for The One? All Nader will succeed in doing is reminding independents that even Obama is considerably further towards the center than the fringier elements of his base, which is precisely what O wants ahead of the general election. Let that be our verdict. “Stupid” it is!