No good progressive rebellion would be complete without hearing from Ralph Nader, and the two-time presidential candidate and notorious spoiler finally weighed in on the tax deal Barack Obama cut with the GOP. Needless to say, Nader is less than impressed with the President, and demanded a primary challenge from the left to defeat the “con man” currently in the White House. And if one doesn’t step forward, well, Nader might pull his campaign out of mothballs and give it one more go himself:
“He has no fixed principles,” Nader said, of Mr. Obama. “He’s opportunistic — he goes for expedience, like Clinton. Some call him temperamentally conflict-averse. If you want to be harsher, you say he has no principles and he’s opportunistic.”
“He’s a con man,” Nader continued. “I have no use for him.”
Nader urged a progressive candidate to challenge Mr. Obama for the presidency in 2012, and said that while he wasn’t altogether disallowing the possibility of running himself, it was time for a new progressive leader to step forward.
“Obama’s position has been that the liberal, progressive wing has nowhere to go, therefore they can’t turn their back on the administration. But a challenge will hold his feet to the fire and signal that we do have somewhere to go,” Nader said.
“I’m not foreclosing the possibility [of running]… There are just other things to do,” he continued. “And it’s time for someone else to continue. I’ve done it so many times. When I go around the country, I’m telling people they need to find somebody.”
Could Republicans get this lucky? Yes, we can! Seriously, though, the progressive wing of the Democratic Party isn’t likely to back yet another step along the Harold Stassen road for Nader, and Nader himself seems to realize it. If Nader ran, he’d be the Maytag Repairman of presidential candidates with very little chance of impacting the results.
As an activist, though, Nader could have plenty of impact. He’s likely to serve as a rallying point for angry progressives at the moment, and the era of Republican control of the House will provide plenty of opportunities for even more anger. Instead of being king, Nader could easily play kingmaker for someone on the inside of the party to step up against Obama. Nader thinks that a primary is a given, “[j]ust a question of how prominent” the challenger will be. Can he recruit someone with enough credibility to run against a sitting President? Russ Feingold’s looking for work, but Obama did a lot of campaigning for Feingold in a desperate attempt to rescue his job. Howard Dean has insisted he’s not interested. Who’s left? Wes Clark?