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St. Ralph Speaks!

[ 254 ] June 25, 2013 |

The man who made Iraq, massive upper-class tax cuts and Sam Alito possible, while reassuring us all the while that a man who governed to the right of the Texas legislature was a harmless moderate indistinguishable from Al Gore, would like to share some insights into American politics:

Nader will always be linked with the close 2000 election, in which some accused Nader of siphoning crucial votes away from then-Vice President Al Gore in his campaign against George W. Bush. Nader’s been a bit surprised to see the 43rd president enjoy a bit of a resurgence in public approval ratings.

“What happens when presidents leave office is the succeeding presidents do not attack them because they don’t want to be attacked by who succeeds them. So you don’t get the public reminders of the devastating economic policies against working families, and the working poor in this country by George W. Bush or the devastating foreign military quagmire that he got us in or the devastating tax cuts for the wealthy, which started huge deficits.”

[...]

Nader is out with a new collection of columns called “I Told You So,” and he expressed a bit of disappointment that Washington, D.C. rewards those who get things wrong over those like, well, himself.

No, fuck you!

UPDATE: No, seriously, fuck you!

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  1. Dana Houle says:

    Yeah, Reagan and Dubya never said anything negative about Jimmy Carter.

  2. joe from Lowell says:

    Wait a sec: the Obama White House doesn’t talk about the Bush administration’s terrible economic policies and failed foreign policy?

    Oh, wait, he means that the Obama White House doesn’t call George W. Bush mean names.

    It’s a shame Nader wasn’t born fifty years later. He would have made a great internet asshole.

  3. Halloween Jack says:

    In before the Nader apologists come in to start barking about how Gore lost his native state: hey, I lived in Tennessee in 2K, and not picking it up in an election is hardly a bad sign.

    • Steve LaBonne says:

      Gore really was a terrible candidate, though. With the Clinton economy humming along, it should never have been anywhere near close enough for either Nader or the Supreme Court to make a difference. Even then, he would still have won if his campaign had had the wit to immediately call for a statewide recount in Florida.

      • joe from Lowell says:

        With the Clinton economy humming along, it should never have been anywhere near close enough for either Nader or the Supreme Court to make a difference.

        I don’t buy this theory that the incumbency advantage a President enjoys while seeking reelection during good times devolves onto the Vice President in year 8.

        Eisenhower’s VP lost. Johnson’s VP lost. Yes, Reagan’s VP won, but that still leaves us with more sitting VPs losing than winning since WW2.

        The American public gets sick of having the same party hold the White House for too long. The sins of the incumbent party/administration have been in front of their faces for years, while the sins of the out party are distant enough to be largely forgotten. If anything, I think a sitting VP whose party has controlled the White House for eight years faced a disadvantage.

        • Just a Rube says:

          Worth noting:

          Bush the Elder the only VP to ascend immediately to the Presidency w/o a death/resignation intervening since Martin Van Buren. Other than Van Buren, you have John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, and that’s it.

          So no, being the VP of a popular president is far from a shoo-in.

        • Carol says:

          Nixon’s VP lost too, although he got to be President by default for a while

          • actor212 says:

            That wasn’t the guy who was elected with Nixon, however. Also, Eisenhower’s VP lost but then he won, so Joe? Your calculations are off: 50% of sitting VPs who ran ended up President.

            • joe from Lowell says:

              I didn’t mention Mondale, Ford, LBJ, or Truman, either. My calculation refers not to “anyone who served as Vice President,” but to sitting Vice Presidents.

              This isn’t just a minor distinction: the core of my point is The American public gets sick of having the same party hold the White House for too long. The sins of the incumbent party/administration have been in front of their faces for years, while the sins of the out party are distant enough to be largely forgotten.

              Yes, Ike’s VP won – eight years later, after the public had two terms to be reminded of the sins of the Democrats, and forget about those of the Republicans.

            • Bitter Scribe says:

              Except that Nixon wasn’t a “sitting VP” in 1968.

              I think one of the reasons Nixon lost in ’60 is that he had spent the previous eight years as Ike’s designated asshole—the guy who savaged opponents, buttered up Joe McCarthy, etc. Eight years was enough time to reinvent himself as the “new Nixon” (seriously—that was a thing).

      • Uncle Kvetch says:

        With the Clinton economy humming along, it should never have been anywhere near close enough for either Nader or the Supreme Court to make a difference.

        This.

        [bowing out now...my money's on 500+ comments for this one]

      • brad says:

        Gore’s mistakes do not excuse Nader’s, especially since in this case Gore’s biggest “mistake” was not fluffing Ralph’s ego and meeting with him personally to beg Ralph’s permission to be president.

      • BigHank53 says:

        Who hung Joe Lieberman around Gore’s neck?

        • zombie rotten mcdonald says:

          Although Lieberman was an unforced error, the only constituency that though Gore was a bad candidate was the Village Stenography Pool. They managed to convince enough other people with the Love Story, Internet, Earth Tones bullshit….

          • Steve LaBonne says:

            The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Once again, that election should not have been close. As we just saw last year, the bleating of the Village media counts for a lot less than people give it credit for.

            • zombie rotten mcdonald says:

              I think in 2000, voters were willing to give them a lot more trust. A decade later, not so much.

              • Moreover, while I don’t think Gore was a supremely bad candidate, he was a worse candidate than Obama, and Romney a worse candidate than Dubya. Plus, we actually knew what the Bush administration looked like in 2012. Something tells me the outcome of the 2000 election might have been different if we all knew that then, even with St. Ralph and Frank Rich swearing that Dubya was no different than Gore.

            • Jesse Levine says:

              The zombie is right. The Village media’s savage attacks on Gore clearly influenced the public perception of the candidates, to the point where public polling on the debates changed from believing Gore won the debates to believing he lost after the “analysis” was over. For the gory (no pun intended) details,go to Bob Somerby’s “the Daily Howler”, and link to “How he got there”.

              And Nader sucks and I held my nose and voted for Obama last year in spite of my anger over many of his actions and positions. (I was an avid supporter in ’08).

            • As J.L. says, the famous debate issue from 2000 would seem to suggest against this, at least for that cycle.

            • joe from Lowell says:

              Once again, that election should not have been close.

              Every election this century has been close. The 2000 electorate had already undergone the polarization that has shrunk the poor of persuadable voters so dramatically.

        • Steve LaBonne says:

          And who told him to keep his popular predecessor at arm’s length? And who told him to dither for weeks before calling for a selective recount when, as later shown by the Miami Herald investigation, a quick, straightforward call for a statewide recount would have put him over the top?

          • brad says:

            So Gore was asking for it?
            In excusing Nader do you ever realize you’re actually holding him to a lower standard?

            • DocAmazing says:

              Calling out Gore as less competent is not excusing Nader.

              • brad says:

                As a response to Nader’s mistakes, yeah, it is, actually.

                It doesn’t matter what kind of candidate Gore was or what kind of campaign he ran. It wasn’t on Gore to make it safe for Ralph to run a vanity protest campaign.

                FWIW I voted for Nader in 96, first vote I ever cast. In 2000 by the late summer the situation was pretty clear, though, and as a public advocate who claimed to have everyone’s best interest in mind I held him to a higher standard, which he utterly failed to meet. He refused to endorse vote sharing programs or remove himself from the ballot in battleground states. It made a difference, and that is on him, no matter what Gore did or didn’t do.

                • brad says:

                  *vote trading programs, I mean

                • This. The only REAL defense of Nader’s actions would be to claim that he really did believe there was no difference between Bush and Gore. Oddly, not too many people seem to want to acknowledge they thought that, so it all becomes about how Gore was a bad candidate and this somehow just forced them not to vote for him, or something.

                • BlueLoom says:

                  But vote trading still went on (tho some in govt were grumbling that it wasn’t legal). I live in then-solidly-red Virginia and traded with someone in Dem-winnable New Mexico.

          • zombie rotten mcdonald says:

            The village, on the first count. Clinton’s Penis was going to fuck him in the ass, was their chorus.

            The second part was dumb as hell. But as pointed out, it shouldn’t have been close enough to steal.

            It is, however, easy as hell to Monday morning quarterback.

            • Yeah, anybody who tries to use anything about the recount process to defend Nader really needs to rethink their strategy.

              • Steve LaBonne says:

                Saying that the dumb egotistical asshole Nader should have been irrelevant is not the same thing at all as defending him. I think some of you need a little refresher course in logic.

                • But left out of this theory is the effect that people like Nader screaming that Bush and Gore were no different than one another had on the closeness of the race. It’s entirely possible that without Nader and the Mediots doing just that, Gore would have enjoyed a much more comfortable margin in the race!

                • Steve LaBonne says:

                  Why are you arguing with me? I yield to few people in my disdain for the egotistical gasbag Nader. He represents the worst of the useless, yakking-and-preening segment of the American left. That doesn’t change the facts that Gore ran a shit campaign and totally bungled its aftermath. We shouldn’t have to be still talking about Nader (which really, is all that asshole wants out of life.)

                • Because your theory about how Gore ran a bad campaign seems to ignore the various outside factors that fed in to that, most notably that the media had it out for Gore like no other candidate in modern history. I mean, for fuck’s sake, when Gore tried to explain how his proposals were actually quite different than the ones Bush gave the same name to, the press responded by calling Gore a condescending smartypants (while Nader is screaming that thhey’re actually the same and promising to legalize pot) and his poll numbers dropped. The fuck was the guy supposed to do?

                • DocAmazing says:

                  Gore ran to the right, repeatedly, and tried to distance himself from even the mildly liberal things Clinton had done. Many of those who might have voted for him were unimpressed, and stayed home. All of those who wouldn’t have vote for him because he was a Democrat were unimpressed, and voted Bush.

                  Obama made a very good showing because he ran to the left. He didn’t waste time and resources courting those who weren’t going to vote for him anyway. (Unfortunately, he does waste time and resources courting those people now that he’s in office, but I digress.)

                  What was Gore supposed to do? Not wasting time on image consultants. like Naomi Wolf; emphasizing the differences between himself and Bush in starker, left/right, good for the rich/good for the non-rich terms might have helped. We’ll never know.

                • Scott Lemieux says:

                  Gore ran to the right, repeatedly

                  No, he didn’t. He ran a more liberal campaign than Clinton did, and was perceived by the public as much more to the left than Bush was to the right.

                • ^ This. At least try to maintain some line between reality and the things you really want to be true.

                • Auguste says:

                  I just want to join in the chorus of “Fuck you, I was there” to this suggestion that Gore ran to the right. The only reason I jumped ship on Nader after a few weeks of twitterpation was that I started to pay attention and realize just how incredibly wrong the “They’re both the same” message was.

                • joe from Lowell says:

                  We’ll never know.

                  We’ll also never know if running to please DocAmazing would have garnered him sub-Modale levels of support….but we have a whole hell of a lot more reason to suspect it.

            • Barry says:

              “It is, however, easy as hell to Monday morning quarterback.”

              We’re not. Plenty of people pointed out at the time, that the election was going to be close, and that Nader was going to pull votes away from Gore. Remember Molly Ivins proposing a vote trading scheme?

          • joe from Lowell says:

            as later shown by the Miami Herald investigation, a quick, straightforward call for a statewide recount would have put him over the top?

            Hold on: the Miami Herald did an investigation that showed that Al Gore calling for a statewide recount would have caused Katherine Harris, Jeb Bush, the Florida legislature, and the US Supreme Court from screwing him?

            That must have been quite the investigation.

            No, seriously, I get it: the key factor driving the allocation of Florida’s electoral votes was Al Gore’s response. Of course.

          • Immanuel Kant says:

            His treatment of Clinton was a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          Some evidence that Lieberman had the slightest net negative impact on Gore’s electoral prospects would be relevant here.

          • DocAmazing says:

            He sure did rally the left!

            • Daniel Nexon says:

              He’s likely the reason why Gore won Florida (absent the butterfly ballot). He really brought out the Jewish vote in the Miami area.

            • LeeEsq says:

              How are you defining the Left? If its at your level there is nobody that Gore could have picked that would have rallied them.

            • joe from Lowell says:

              He sure did rally the left!

              The DocAmazing left, aka, the Deciders, who control election outcomes in America.

              • DocAmazing says:

                Apparently, we’re all accepting that Nader decided the election. Neutralizing his support through co-optation would seem a logical strategy, neh?

                • joe from Lowell says:

                  No, we’re accepting that the Supreme Court decided the election. Nader just made it possible for them to do so.

                  Neutralizing his support through co-optation would seem a logical strategy, neh?

                  Only if you know so little about American politics that you think it will gain you more votes than you lose in 2000-era Florida by running a campaign that appeals to DocAmazing.

                • Ed says:

                  Apparently, we’re all accepting that Nader decided the election.

                  No, we’re not all accepting it. Some of us don’t care to engage in the beating of this particular dead horse. I think commenters’ time would be better spent analyzing Edward Snowden’s personality flaws.

                • Prodigal says:

                  The difference by which the Florida election was awarded to Bush was less than 1% of the number of Nader voters, so arguing that his choice to run decided the election the wrong way is basic math.

          • Chatham says:

            It would only have had to make a rounding error’s worth of difference to have an impact. If Bradley was the VP and a handful of basketball fans turned out to him that could have pushed Gore over.

            And as I said in the other thread, if even a small fraction of the people who sat at home complaining about Nader had gone to Florida and canvased for a week, Gore would have won. But people like to avoid personal responsibility and default to “That’s not true because Nader sucks.”

            • brad says:

              Honest question, have you ever actually gone door to door?
              I have. I think you’re giving the power of a tshirt and a clipboard at your door Saturday morning while you’re getting your kids ready for soccer way too much credit.

              Gore ran a bad campaign, Bush ran a good one. The media was complicit. The Dems were complacent.
              None of this excuses Nader from personal responsibility on his own part.

              Or from the basic fact that at that particular moment in history the electorate really was starkly divided nearly 50/50, and that was neither candidate’s doing.

              • Chatham says:

                Yes. The last time I did it was two months ago (and phone banking and working the polls). I’ll probably do it again in a few months as we get closer to the election season. Our candidate managed to overtake others who were better funded and had more media support, mostly because of volunteers. You’re right, it’s not the kind of thing were you get 20 people enthusiastically supporting your candidate in an hour. On a bad day, you might not get anyone.

                But it does have an impact, and a few thousand volunteers doing a week of it would have been enough to bring out more than 900 votes, based on my experience.

                • brad says:

                  In my more limited experience GOT canvassing is more about gathering info than changing minds, making sure your people on the ground have the best info possible.
                  Florida was fairly well networked in 2000, afaik. Obviously there could have been better prep in advance of things like the butterfly ballot, but I’m not sure how a flood of new out of state volunteers would have really improved that.

                • GOT efforts have absolutely nothing to do with persuading voters. In fact, you’re told to do everything you can to avoid wasting time trying to win over a new voter. It’s ALL about rounding up and reinforcing existing supporters.

                • Chatham says:

                  Can’t speak for the Florida operation, but I can’t imagine that they were so swamped that they wouldn’t have welcomed volunteers (it’s not something I’ve seen happen before). Canvassing efforts usually vary based on the campaign (and when in the campaign they take place). Not all efforts are GOTV; I’ve seen/been part of a number that have targeted undecided voters. But that’s tangential, because either way it has an impact. A few hundred votes was definitely attainable.

                • brad says:

                  What in your experience do you base this on? Were you part of an effort in a battleground state pre-2008?
                  It seems like you’re kind of pulling this out of your ass, tbh. People were supposed to fly in, drive there? Where, specifically, in Florida? Where were they supposed to sleep? Was it on the local campaign offices to work out these logistics, the national? Putting untrained people out on the street and on phones trying to… actually change people’s minds in the final days of a closely contested election in a state full of crazy people whuch the world’s media was already keeping a close watch on due to the EC math?

                • brad says:

                  I mean, an election two months ago and again in a few months sounds like local stuff.
                  That’s not a presidential campaign, I have to question the comparability.

                • Chatham says:

                  What in your experience do you base this on? Were you part of an effort in a battleground state pre-2008?
                  It seems like you’re kind of pulling this out of your ass, tbh.

                  Huh. So it seems your earlier “honest question” about my experience wasn’t so honest. I suppose I should stop now, but I’ll answer a few questions first.

                  When I’ve gone to other states to do political volunteer work (not often), I’ve arranged for my own lodging. Others I’ve known have done the same. I remember a few years back when the DNC was flying people out to South Dakota to do canvassing (I was waitlisted for that), and they arranged for their lodging. That’s not terribly common from what I’ve seen.

                  And again, I’ve never seen campaigns turn down volunteers. That doesn’t mean there aren’t logistics and organizing issues involved – that’s part of a campaign. But the claim that the Gore campaign couldn’t have handled more volunteers in Florida seems like a rationalization that’s as likely as the Greens’ “Nader took votes from both Gore and Bush” rationalization.

                • Chatham says:

                  I mean, an election two months ago and again in a few months sounds like local stuff.

                  No, you just missed the 2013 mid-mid-terms.

                • brad says:

                  My mistake. But my doubts stem from the idea that in late October 2000 there were that many people in Florida who hadn’t been approached by both campaigns multiple times, at least on the public registered voter rolls. It’s not a local campaign for even the House where there are people who just won’t know either candidate or the outreach has been limited enough for real swings to happen. But also, what 2013 mid-midterms? State level?

                • brad says:

                  I can have honest questions and doubts, both. It’s not hard to do at all.
                  You have more experience personally than I do, and I cannot and would not challenge that. Well done, unsarcastically.
                  But I am dubious to the idea that it was as simple an idea as you describe for people to just appear in the right place in Florida with the right skills to help, especially with an earlier internet.
                  And what you’re talking about with the DNC wasn’t a last minute thing, I assume, but a planned centralized coordinated effort making use of people who made themselves available as skilled moveable assets?

                • Chatham says:

                  A joke.

                  Anyway, my point wasn’t to excoriate people for not going down. It was merely to say that if people did want to focus on Gore losing Florida, there are plenty of things to look at (things we actually have control over) other than the Green Party, which at this point is irrelevant. My personal belief is that inaction by Democrats hurts the party much, much more than anything Ralph Nader could do at this point.

                • brad says:

                  That we can certainly agree on.
                  I suppose my interest in arguing for my interpretation of Ralph’s doings is that he be seen as a cautionary tale, if anything.

            • Alright, can’t argue with that. From now on, instead of blaming lefties who voted for Nader in Florida I’ll instead blame Gore’s low income voters in New York for not getting off of their asss and going to Florida to volunteer for the campaign. Thanks for clearing that up.

              • Chatham says:

                Naturally the ones that couldn’t have afforded it shouldn’t have gone. I’m not sure how that excuses those who could, just like I’m not sure why the existence of someone physically unable to vote in 2000 would be an excuse for an able bodied person to not vote. It seems like a dodge, and a poor one at that.

            • Scott Lemieux says:

              It would only have had to make a rounding error’s worth of difference to have an impact

              But it’s a classic pundit’s fallacy to assume that this rounding error impact was negative. For one thing, picking Lieberman got Gore pretty much the only positive media coverage he got during the entire campaign. What state does Gore win if he doesn’t pick Lieberman? In the closest major state it’s more plausible that he was a positive than a negative.

              Lieberman is an asshole and a bad VP pick, but he’s not why Gore lost.

              • But if he had picked anyone else, The Mighty Left finally would have been roused into existence action and delivered a crushing defeat to the Republicans who were no worse than the Democrats!

                • DocAmazing says:

                  Apparently, the Mighty Left is mighty enough to bring down Gore, but not mighty enough to be worked with.

                • You’re right: the idea that ~1,000 or so Nader voters in Florida cost Gore the election is far more fantastical than the idea the Gore picking someone other than Lieberman or otherwise running a campaign more amenable to the always successful internet lefty consultants would have flipped Ohio or Virginia or something.

                • DocAmazing says:

                  Might well have eliminated the ~1000 votes; might well have increased the spread so that ~1000 votes wouldn’t have been the deciding factor.

                • So now we’re back to the “no one knows anything!” standard, I see.

                  I thought you had work to do?

              • IM says:

                Lieberman an 2000 didn’t have the reputation he had later.

                • PSP says:

                  The media applauded the Lieberman choice. Even if few outside the beltway were enthusiastic about him, Lieberman hadn’t managed to alienate 2/3s of the Democratic party at the time of his nomination.

              • Halloween Jack says:

                Right. The commentariat here forgets that Lieberman, and specifically his right-wing tendencies, were largely unknown (at least to the general public) back in 2K; most of the buzz was around the bare fact of Gore having a Jewish running mate.

        • joe from Lowell says:

          Who hung Joe Lieberman around Gore’s neck?

          Our personal feelings aside, is there any evidence that Lieberman was a liability for Gore in 2000? State-level polls, national polls?

          • I don’t remember any. If anything I think the Village approved of the choice (can’t be arsed to check).

            For me (at the time) Tipper was a way bigger liability than Lieberman. I was still pissed at her for the PMRC bullshit.

      • Halloween Jack says:

        Wrong. The voters will turf an incumbent (or his designated successor) out of office if the economy is bad, but the reverse isn’t necessarily true. And, yes, the Village was stronger back then, and Clinton’s personal popularity didn’t simply rub off on his veep. (Bush the Elder’s victory in ’88 was a product both of Lee Atwater’s shameless race-baiting and his having an opponent that was even less charismatic than him.)

    • Major Kong says:

      Gore losing Tennessee says a lot more about the South trending Republican than anything about Al Gore.

  4. To bad with global warming, this old MFer can’t crawl onto an ice-flow, and float the f*ck away.

    Thanks again, Ralph. Fer nothin’.

  5. Todd says:

    NBC News ‏@NBCNews 3m
    JUST IN: The #SCOTUS has struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act -

  6. brad says:

    Is this book published by a right wing vanity press, too?

    • brad says:

      Also, one of you apologizing for him, please explain to me how Ralph “got it right”.
      Seems to me there kind of, maybe, possibly, might have been a difference between Bush and Gore, after all.

      • N__B says:

        I disliked Bush in 1999 from what I knew about him then, which wasn’t much. Then during the campaign, maybe late spring 2000, I saw the recording of him mocking Carla Faye Tucker’s appeal for clemency and I knew he was a sociopath.

        I could have actively hated Gore – which I didn’t and don’t – and I still would have happily voted for him to keep Bush out.

        • zombie rotten mcdonald says:

          Unfortunately, he was the Head Frat Boy that the Village wanted to have a beer with….

        • brewmn says:

          Yeah, but overall, Bush ran as a moderate. I was having an argument over beers with a friend during election season 2000, and something I said caused her to say “If you like Bush so much, why don’t you vote for him?” My reply was “If I thought he would govern like he’s campaigning, I would.”

      • Seriously, this. There’s really no positive defense of Nader and his supporters now, the best you can say for them is that, rather than being mendacious in wanting to throw an election, they were merely idiots who didn’t appreciate the real differences between Bush and Gore. It’s weird that no one actually wants to own up to that while defending Nader, huh?

  7. Tom Hilton says:

    I can hardly wait for Nader to die so I can piss on his grave.

    That is all.

    • brad says:

      But what about all the genuinely good things the people he’s worked with have done that he’s taken credit for?
      People he employed did truly great work decades ago, and he helped found the PIRGs before everyone associated with them got sick as fuck of his useless egotism.
      You’re really willing to ignore all the good things he didn’t really do?

      • Tom Hilton says:

        He did some good decades ago. He’s done much more bad (with catastrophic results for America) since then. IMO, the latter so overwhelmingly outweighs the former that the former is hardly a consideration.

  8. janastas359 says:

    So apparently Nader holds both of the following views:

    1. It didn’t matter if he ran in 2000, because the candidates were essentially identical.

    2. George Bush, by pushing Republican policies, has been awful for the country.

    Even if you were to grant Nader the notion that his running had nothing to do with the outcome in 2000, I don’t understand how he can simultaneously hold both premises in his mind at the same time. At the very least, why can’t you say “I was wrong, they weren’t identical, and it was a mistake running based on that assumption.

  9. Ronan says:

    Ah yeah if only Gore had won, everything would be great

    • Well, as close to it as you could reasonably expect, methinks.

    • zombie rotten mcdonald says:

      well, we’d have at least one more tower in New York right now.

    • Dave S. says:

      I’d settle for “better,” which isn’t much of a stretch to imagine.

    • Ronan says:

      Everything would have happened, more or less, as it did, except everyone would be windbagging about how much worse it could all have been

      • brad says:

        Impossibly certain troll is certain.

        • Ronan says:

          No more or less certain than everyone else

          • brad says:

            Not A, therefore purple.

          • Scott Lemieux says:

            Yeah, Gore totally would have put Alito and Roberts on the Supreme Court. Just like Romney would have selected zombie Earl Warren.

            • Ronan says:

              I wouldn’t dispute there would have been some differences, which would be consequential to a number of people, but the big things, (like Iraq etc), would have happened regardless. So I don’t buy the framing is all

              • Scott Lemieux says:

                but the big things, (like Iraq etc), would have happened regardless.

                No, they wouldn’t have.

              • Duvall says:

                Voting rights aren’t a big thing? Mighty white of you.

              • Ronan says:

                Not as big as a war, no. Mighty privileged of you if you think so

              • Lyanna says:

                No. This lets the cabal of neocons pulling the strings in the Bush administration completely off the hook. The Iraq war was not the inevitable result of US foreign policy habits. It would never have happened if not for two things: (1) the 9/11 attacks (which Gore could have prevented–he was part of an administration that took terrorism seriously pre-9/11), and (2) the overwhelming determination of the Project for a New American Century types to tie 9/11 and “weapons of mass destruction” to Saddam.

                I remember the first time I heard the war in Iraq suggested. My reaction was “WTF? What does Iraq have to do with anything?” And I suspect that was the reaction of many. But the desire for post-9/11 vengeance, combined with the neocons’ lying that made people think Iraq was an appropriate target of such vengeance, is what made the war possible.

                • Ronan says:

                  I don’t want to understate the role of the neocons, or imply it had to happen like it did, but I don’t see where ‘the out’ was on Iraq. Clinton didn’t exactly develop a humane, coherent policy towards Iraq, and a number of the main Dem foreign policy players (advisers, Congress people, Gore himself, Lieberman) were quite hawkish over it. I don’t see how the invasion could have been avoided post 9/11 (I personally don’t buy the idea that Gore could have prevented 9/11)
                  He would have don’t it in a less obnoxious manner, I would guess, but imo he would have done it.

                • Ronan says:

                  And it wouldn’t have worked out any better

                • Lyanna says:

                  Clinton’s bombing and sanctions against Iraq were nowhere near as involved or destructive as the actual war.

                  And the Democratic “hawks,” for the most part, were me-tooing Bush’s posturing because they didn’t want to look disloyal or soft on terror. They didn’t actively want war in Iraq. They just saw no political benefit in opposing it. Without people like Cheney, Norquist, Baker and Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld behind the scenes of the White House, the entire landscape would have been different.

                  We didn’t need an ‘out’ on Iraq. Iraq was the result of an active, concerted effort by Bush cronies to push us ‘in.’ And they were only in a position to do so because Bush was in the Oval.

                  Why couldn’t Gore have prevented 9/11? It wasn’t some magical, mystical occurrence.

                • Plus, the idea that 9/11 wouldn’t have served as an excuse to stop focusing on Iraq if we didn’t have a White House obsessed with falsely tying Iraq to 9/11 is rather bizarre. Seems like a pretty damn good “out” to me!

                • joe from Lowell says:

                  The difference between invading Iraq and not invading Iraq is meaningless, because Clinton didn’t develop a “very humane” Iraq policy.

                  Just wanted to highlight that part.

                • Ronan says:

                  No Joe, Im saying there was no potential policy u turn that was going to be able to deal with Iraq without resorting to war, imo.

                  Lyanna
                  I think sanctions were much more destructive than we remember, and I don’t (personally) buy the idea that the Dem Hawks were just going along with the Bush admin (I think they seriously supported it)
                  There’s definitely an argument that the war itself was so much the product of people within/close to the Bush admin that it couldn’t have happened otherwise, I just don’t fully but that (Also PNAC had across party appeal)
                  re 9/11 I think its been overdone the extent to which Bush is to blame. I don’t see why Gore would have been more urgent (and the info wasn’t precise in regards to how the attack would happen)

                • sibusisodan says:

                  I don’t want to understate the role of the neocons, or imply it had to happen like it did, but…

                  …that’s just what you’re doing?

                • joe from Lowell says:

                  there was no potential policy u turn that was going to be able to deal with Iraq without resorting to war, imo.

                  Invading Iraq was the U-turn. You keep insisting on how hawkish Clinton and Gore were on Iraq, but they didn’t invade, and Gore stridently opposed the war. They didn’t invade, even when the Iraq hawks were publishing the famous PNAC letter, years before Clinton’s term ended. Instead, the Clinton administration focused on al Qaeda.

                  The passion with which the Bush administration rushed to make that war happen, and the scope of the campaign they waged to sell it, is not consistent with a theory that the invasion was inevitable.

                • Ronan says:

                  sibusisodan

                  In the way the war actually developed, I don’t want to understate the neocons (although afaik a lot of the research is moving away from a neo con centric explanation)
                  That doesn’t mean that same endpoint couldn’t be reached with different faces

                • I assume you meant “would”, instead of “could?” Or are you going to go ahead and pick up the goalposts?

                • Ronan says:

                  Joe, the reality was an isolated and destroyed Iraq led by a regime that neither party would deal with, which both parties were hostile towards, in a post 9/11 world where both partys were more hawkish and had greater leeway. I don’t see what alternative there was with a relatively consistent (across admins)institutionalised policy of isolating and containing Iraq

                  Brien. Can I expect even a little generosity from you? Yes I don’t know, so could id better than would

                • sibusisodan says:

                  the reality was an isolated and destroyed Iraq led by a regime that neither party would deal with, which both parties were hostile towards, in a post 9/11 world

                  Assumes conclusion.

                  If you don’t want to imply that it had to happen like it did, stop implying that it had to happen like it did.

                • No, you’re not going to get generosity from me here because:

                  1. If you’re just going to prattle on about how you don’t know things, then the right thing for you to do is shut up and stop trolling the rest of us.

                  2. You asserted outright that Gore WOULD have invaded Iraq all the same as Bush.

                • He’s not implying anything: he explicitly dismissed the idea that a Gore administration could have prevented 9/11.

                • Ronan says:

                  I’m not trolling you Brien, im saying the certainty of the OP is imo misjudged. Sure I might have engaged in hyperbole by implying that I can actually run 100% accurate counterfactuals, Im sorry if that threw you

                • joe from Lowell says:

                  I don’t see what alternative there was with a relatively consistent (across admins)institutionalised policy of isolating and containing Iraq

                  Once again, it was the invasion that was the alternative to the consistent, institutionalized policy of containment. You can’t cite the existence of a longstanding policy as evidence that a dramatic change of policy was inevitable!

                  the reality was an isolated and destroyed Iraq led by a regime that neither party would deal with, which both parties were hostile towards

                  The reality was that even George W. Bush’s Republican Secretary of State was trying to reform the sanctions, before the Rumsfeld-Cheney factions successfully sidelined him. The impossibility of a policy other than invasion is belied by the existence, during the first few months of that presidency, of another policy being pursued.

                • Ronan says:

                  Sorry Joe I missed this. My point is more that there was no real difference in policy between previous admins, regardless of whether Rep/Dem. In 2002 onwards you have a sanctions regime that’s no longer politically feasible, a regime in Iraq that neither party will (or possibly can, due to alliances in the region) deal with..you have a containment policy which was a humanitarian disaster and is also no longer sustainable..so where do you go from here?

                  The rhetoric and perspective from some in the Bush admin (primarily the neo cons) had a lot in common with the rhetoric and perspective within the Dems liberal hawks wing. (A genuine commitment to using force to’democratice Iraq’ etc) I just think you’re understating the extent to which certain rationales for the Iraq War had pretty strong support in the Dems, and overstating the alternative options that were realistic on Iraq (for institutional, historical, regional etc reasons)

                • The problem is that none of that even begins to outweigh a President who is a strong opponent of invading Iraq in 2002.

                • Ronan says:

                  I take his positions/rhetoric in office more seriously than what he says when a travelling statesman with no political/institutional commitments

                • You take his position when he was a subordinate figure in someone else’s administration more seriously than when he’s free to say whatever the fuck he wants about something? Or you still just fail to see what a massive escalation the full scale invasion of Iraq was?

                • Ronan says:

                  I take it on the basis that he was one of the leading Dem figures pushing for Iraq 1, which probably was one of the reasons Clinton picked him, that his rhetoric consistently stressed that he believed Iraq had WMDs (even when objecting to the war) that he was hawkish throughout the 90s, that even his opposition to the war in 2003 was more ‘complicated’ than people now claim,(he opposed, most of all, how Bush would fight/was selling the war and could see circumstances where it was justified) that when in power he would have had to actually deal with Iraq, respond to 9/11 (taking for granted he didn’t prevent it) and do this in the context of the constraints imposed by the FP establishment, public opinion, Republican opposition, Iraq War lobbyists etc

      • rea says:

        “Bin Laden determined to strike at US”
        “Okay, you’ve covered your ass.”

        Clue: that exchange did not involve Al Gore.

      • I’d say I’m interested in hearing your theory of how President Gore invades Iraq, but honestly I’d much rather prefer you just go away. This day has been bad enough already.

        • Ronan says:

          Jeez fine, people are allowed have different opinions Brien

          • Yes, you are allowed to have an opinion. And when your opinion is that the guy who became the most prominent critic of the Iraq war in 2002 would have invaded the country had he been President, without providing any sort of credible argument to that effect, I’m allowed to be of the opinion that you’re a juvenile, idiotic, troll.

            • Ronan says:

              “most prominent critic of the Iraq war in 2002 would have invaded the country had he been President”

              Here’s his rhetoric when actually in power

              http://www.snopes.com/politics/war/wmdquotes.asp

              Also, read his speeches. It was more against the war as it was being sold, there were caveats allowing circumstances when he would support it

              • joe from Lowell says:

                …and if there are circumstances when he would have supported it, then we know it would have happened. We know those circumstances, which didn’t exist, would have come to pass.

                At the same time, he opposed the war even he had concerns about WMDs, therefore demonstrating that he was itching to invade Iraq.

                OK.

                • Ronan says:

                  Joe I just don’t agree with the certainty that he wouldn’t have waged it. Obviously I don’t know

                • djw says:

                  Joe I just don’t agree with the certainty that he wouldn’t have waged it. Obviously I don’t know

                  This newfound epistemic modesty is hard to square with your “Gore’s War” rhetoric, but it’s certainly an improvement so I won’t complain.

          • rea says:

            Were you even paying attention to US politics back in 2001, Ronan? Maybe I misunderstood soemthing you said a while back, but I was under the impression that you were Irish, and touring in support of your first solo album back then.

            • Ronan says:

              Yeah the rest of the world was aware of the war . I kept up to date from the tour bus

                • Ronan says:

                  Yeah Afghan..anyway why are you saying this to me? I didn’t mention 2001

                • rea says:

                  Scrolling back up, Ronan, you’ll see this subthread started with the famous August 2001 briefing “Bin Laden determined to strike at US”

                • Ronan says:

                  Fair enough, though Im not sure why I would have had to be living in the US and paying close attention to Clinton/Bush policy on Al Qaeda in 2001 to have an opinion on something 12 years later
                  Sure Gore might have prevented 9/11, I just doubt it

                • rea says:

                  And part of the point is this: back in ’00-’01, one of the major differences between the two US parties on foriegn policy was that the Democrats, particularly Clinton and Gore, recognized that al Qaeda was a threat. The Republicans, on the other hand, particularly the neocons, thought that terrorism was a paper tiger unless state sponsored. Thus Bush had no interest in being briefed on al Qaeda before 9/11. And later, the conclusion was that Iraq must have been behind 9/11, according to the Rs, because no one not sponsored by a state could possibly pull off such an attack.

                • Ronan says:

                  I think you’re overdoing the extent to which Clinton was focussed on Al Qaeda, but I wouldnt argue against the fact that the Clinton admin was more concerned than Bush (or that ideologically the Bush admin were more likely to be concerned with ‘conventional’ threats)
                  I just don’t see how this plays out..Gore receives a briefing of an upcoming threat from Al Qaeda, takes it more seriously than Bush, and then..? There are a lot of steps in between

                • rea says:

                  And I do appreciate tht you know far more about US politics than I do about Irish politics, but frankly you would be extraordinary if you understood these nuances as well as an American who lived through the politics of that time as a participant.

                • Well, just going from the inauguration to 9/11 and ignoring the difference in the transition period you’ve got just under 8 months worth of time. You really think it wouldn’t have been any more likely that something went drastically wrong for the hijackers in over 7.5 months if the federal law enforcement apparatus was actually focused on al Qaeda, instead of being run by people who didn’t believe they weren’t capable of being a real threat?

                  Frankly, I think this undersells how bad the Bush administration was, and misses the extent to which the point of so much of their finger pointing at Clinton for the intelligence community’s failures were really a result of the administration being more concerned with killing the ABM treaty than preventing al Qaeda attacks.

                • Ronan says:

                  “And I do appreciate tht you know far more about US politics than I do about Irish politics, but frankly you would be extraordinary if you understood these nuances as well as an American who lived through the politics of that time as a participant.”

                  Yeah that’s fair. I accept its different for an outsider and someone who lives through it. I try not to preach on this stuff to people as I know I can miss the nuance, and it’s obnoxious on my part, but I sometimes get carried away! (It’s all US politics online though, all the Irish blogs are full of lunatics, there aren’t really that many choices)

                • Ronan says:

                  “You really think it wouldn’t have been any more likely that something went drastically wrong for the hijackers in over 7.5 months if the federal law enforcement apparatus was actually focused on al Qaeda, instead of being run by people who didn’t believe they weren’t capable of being a real threat?”

                  Perhaps, Im sceptical though

                • rea says:

                  Read about Richard Clarke, for example, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_A._Clarke

                • Why, exactly, do you think it was easier for these more or less random nobodies to pull off an event like 9/11 than it would have been for law enforcement to catch them…keeping in mind how close they came even with the administration’s indifference?

                • Ronan says:

                  rea, I read Clarkes book when it came out and, afaicr, although it was pretty devastating against the Bush admin, I cant remember anything in it that convinced me the attack could have been prevented by a more serious administration (written, as well, by someone directly involved) although tbh I’d have to re read it

                  rea and Brien, because I don’t see what the process is in that 8 months where the plot goes uncovered. If Gore takes it more seriously how does this make any major difference on the FBI’s ability to uncover the plot? The intelligence makes sense after the fact, but I don’t see how presidential seriousness works itself onto the ‘street’ level where the plot itself is uncovered

                • You don’t think that prioritization has any impact on how bureaucracies process information?

                • rea says:

                  If Gore takes it more seriously how does this make any major difference on the FBI’s ability to uncover the plot?

                  In early 2001, Bush shifted considerable resources at the FBI from investigating terrorism to . . . investigating porn.

                • joe from Lowell says:

                  While we don’t have the public data, it is very likely that a similar shift happened within the CIA, but towards China, not pRawn.

                  The episode with the electronic aircraft, for instance, demonstrates a high level of attention.

                • sibusisodan says:

                  I don’t see how presidential seriousness works itself onto the ‘street’ level where the plot itself is uncovered

                  There’s serious scepticism, and sensible uncertainty, where we admit we don’t know even enough to give a balance of probabilities assessment, and then there’s this statement.

                  If you’re genuinely advancing an argument that Presidential preferences and directives cannot change anything – which is what the statement boils down to – you’re not inhabiting the same political reality as your conversation partners.

                  I don’t see how you’re open to being convinced here. Which makes this discussion rather pointless.

                • Ronan says:

                  “If you’re genuinely advancing an argument that Presidential preferences and directives cannot change anything”

                  No,Im saying I am very sceptical that in this instance it would have

                  “I don’t see how you’re open to being convinced here. Which makes this discussion rather pointless.”

                  I don’t think Im open to being convinced on this. I don’t think it’s an insane perspective, but I just don’t buy it

                • Ronan says:

                  “You don’t think that prioritization has any impact on how bureaucracies process information?”

                  But it’s a huge leap from how ‘prioritization has any impact on how bureaucracies process information’ to 9/11 could have been prevented with a more serious President

                • So you don’t see how something that had a very small chance of succeeding in the first place would have been even less likely to succeed with the U.S. security apparatus exponentially more focused on al Qaeda for 2/3 of 2001?

                • Ronan says:

                  But that’s relying on too many assumptions..that a Gore admin would *immediately* have focussed resources on Al Qaeda,and that this would then have led to an urgency and efficiency within the US security apparatus that could have uncovered that attack.. I don’t think 8months in a pre 9/11 environment could have created this urgency, and I don’t think the US security apparatus is that efficient

                • No, I’m only assuming that Gore would have continued existing Clinton administration policy on AQ.

                • sibusisodan says:

                  No,Im saying I am very sceptical that in this instance it would have

                  What’s special about this instance such that your scepticism is warranted?

                • Ronan says:

                  Because ‘this instance’ seems to be the norm

                • sibusisodan says:

                  Because ‘this instance’ seems to be the norm

                  Now you’re going round in circles.

                  What makes ‘this instance’ different, and thus worthy of scepticism?

                • Ronan says:

                  What do you mean ‘different’? Different to what? When was the last time a Presidential election had such an impact on the competence of federal law enforcement ? Why is the burden of proof on me here?

                • sibusisodan says:

                  Why is the burden of proof on me here?

                  Because you’re trying to simultaneously hold that (i) you think Presidential decisions as to priorities aren’t generally ineffectual (you rejected that summary by saying that in this instance you don’t think it would have made a difference) and (ii) in this case, you think this a President’s decision wouldn’t have made much difference.

                  So, what makes this instance different?

                • Ronan says:

                  Oh FFS, you claimed initially my position was presidential directives and preferences *cannot* make a difference, I rejected that saying that ‘they *cannot*’ was too extreme.
                  But Presidential directives come in various shapes and sizes, and context is important, so in instances like this I think it’s unlikely they would make a difference.
                  I think you’re completely overstating the extent to which a change of President would have had an affect throughout the various security agencies, either from Clinton to Bush, or Gore instead of Bush.
                  I don’t think the urgency was there. I mean wasn’t there a situation where Clinton had good intel on Osama but wouldn’t strike Afghan for fear of collateral damage?
                  There were plenty of other things that Gore had to be ‘serious’ about. Plenty more topics near the top of his agenda. The idea that a change of Presidents could have such consequential result in an area so removed from his ability to *directly* affect strikes me as pure Green Lanternism

      • joe from Lowell says:

        Everything would have happened, more or less, as it did, except everyone would be windbagging about how much worse it could all have been

        Putting someone like George W. Bush in the White House is without consequence.

        Got it.

        • Ronan says:

          Green Lanterism is it?

          • joe from Lowell says:

            Ah, yes – the observation that Presidents can be consequential is the very soul of the Green Lantern Theory.

            • Ronan says:

              Im not the one saying that Pres Gore would have stopped 9/11 and completed a u turn on US policy vis a vis Iraq, read above
              Also, I dint say there would be *no* consequences, once again read above

              • joe from Lowell says:

                Im not the one saying that Pres Gore would have stopped 9/11 and completed a u turn on US policy vis a vis Iraq,

                No, you’re the one who thinks that it’s “Green Lantern Theory” to say that the President can alter foreign policy.

              • Ah yes, U.S. policy on Iraq was such an unstoppable train that it took a year’s worth of high profile campaigning by the President and the entire administration to make it happen. Obviously having a President who didn’t want to invade Iraq would have been unlikely to have changed anything.

                And seriously: the notion that a Gore administration that merely continued the anti-terrorism policies already in effect under Clinton would have prevented 9/11 isn’t really that big of a stretch. There were a number of opportunities to stop 9/11 out of sheer dumb luck, and the only reason they weren’t realized is because the Bush administration chose to wholly ignore al Qaeda prior to 9/11, largely because there was no money in that for the MIC yet.

                • Anonymous says:

                  Yeah, “Intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy.”, how could Gore possibly find an “out” under those circumstances?

              • brad says:

                There’s a difference between asserting we would have been some degree less fucked and that everything would have been perfect. I cannot say whether 9/11 would have happened. Its chances before becoming a tragic part of history would have been lowered, the record seems to make fairly clear.
                There would not have been an invasion of Iraq, that I feel confident in saying. Gore did not represent the same interests as Bush, and without top down agreement the lies and misinfo campaign would not have been able to gain traction even if it had been undertaken in any comparable way.
                FEMA would have been better prepared for Katrina. I firmly assert that.
                And… look at the makeup of the SCOTUS.

                Other bad things probably would have happened, I’m not confident overall economic policy would have been much different, it’s not that simple, but again, yes, we’d be some significant degree less fucked.

                • janastas359 says:

                  I’m sorry if this sounds like I’m making light of it, but remember also that the Republicans rode the sympathy of 9/11 to a clear majority in the Senate, and to extra padding in the house. It’s not hard to imagine the Democrats under President Gore taking advantage of that wave instead if 9/11 had happened.

                  Moreover, the Bush tax cuts of 2001/03 would almost certainly not have happened under Gore.

                • Hogan says:

                  Well, in 2002 Bush was just starting the process of crapping on the “Republicans strong on national security” meme, setting it on fire and burying the ashes in the woods. It’s not clear that a Democrat would have gotten the same kind of boost a Republican would.

  10. somethingblue says:

    I’m trying to decide who’s having more fun here: Nader trolling Scott or Scott trolling his commenters.

    But I can’t, so I’m going to go have lunch.

    (“I say the name 100 times every morning. Nader, Nader, Nader, Nader, Nader, Nader. Makes my teeth white.”)

  11. Martin Wisse says:

    As I say every time it comes up, Democrats should not be angry with Nader for using his democratic right to run for president, but rather with Bush and co for stealing the 2000 election. Gore didn’t lose, Bush stole.

    • rea says:

      Most events have mroe than one cause. Forgive me if I’m not just angry with the thief, but also with the guy who unlocked the door for the thief to enter.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      Nader, Bush and Scalia were all on the same side and they all needed each other. The GOP can’t steal the election if Gore wins the initial count in Florida, and if Nader doesn’t run he does.

  12. Domino says:

    As someone who recently had to read a (rather boring) 30 page report about the 2000 election, I blame Gore for the loss. He did not run on Clinton’s economic success enough, and did a poor job of linking himself to the Democratic party’s previous success.

    Why can’t you blame Gore for running a not-so-great campaign, and instead portray Nader as the sole reason Bush won? Why not blame the 100,000+ people who switched from Clinton to Bush in Florida?

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      Why not blame the 100,000+ people who switched from Clinton to Bush in Florida?

      Christ, this is still the dumbest argument ever. “Gore should have appealed to left-wing Nader voters by appealing to conservative Southern Democrats!”

      • Domino says:

        Would you care to address the fact that Gore failed to tie his campaign to the economic success of the Clinton administration, all because of the Lewinski affair?

        I actually admire Gore’s campaign retoric of 2000, in which most of his main points (education, health care) were more identifiable to women than men, while Bush (economy and taxes) ran a campaign that resonated more with men than women.

        If Gore had tied himself to the Democratic party, and tied that to the past economic success of the previous years (granted the last year and a half was being propped up by the tech bubble, but it hadn’t collapsed yet) then Gore should have won. Instead, he ran on a vision of the future, which made it more of a toss-up.

        By the by, I never said Gore should have moved to the left to appeal to Nader voters who may or may not even have voted for him. You put words in my mouth.

        • So your theory of the 2000 election is that voters didn’t realize Al Gore was Bill Clinton’s Vice-President, and that he would have won if only he’d devoted more time to reminding them of that?

          • Domino says:

            My theory is that Gore made the election be about competing visions of the future between him and Bush, rather than making the campaign being about continuing past success.

            Gore rarely mentioned the Democratic party during the campaign, let alone Clinton.

            Is it so hard to think that people were well aware that Gore was Clinton’s VP but ended up thinking about which “future America” they wanted because both candidates were pushing that line of thinking?

            • And…so what? To the extent voters were worried about continuing the current administration, they were almost certainly going to vote for Gore anyway unless a) they were in fact too stupid to realize that Gore was Clinton’s VP without being reminded of the fact every 30 seconds, b) bought into the line that there was no difference between Bush and Gore being promoted by Nader and his supporters.

              I also don’t see why I should expect the results of your strategy to be any different than Gore’s, given that Gore couldn’t even rightly point out the differences between, say, his patients’ bill of rights and Bush’s without the media attacking him for it and his poll numbers declining.

              In all seriousness: any attempt to explain the outcome in 2000 that involves attacking Gore’s strategy without putting 99% of the blame on Nader and the media simply doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously…and the person making it should probably never have their opinion about campaign politics taken seriously ever again.

              • Domino says:

                So Al Gore bears no responsibility for losing the 2000 presidential election? I was in my low teens in 2000, so I wasn’t paying attention to media, let alone political campaigns, so I won’t comment on those parts of your post.

                Why can’t you fault Gore for not running on

                “I will continue the economic success into the future,” instead of running on

                “Here’s my vision for the future, and I’ll just not mention the recent past economic success and instead ask people whether they prefer my vision of the future or Bush’s”

                From what I’ve read about Reagan’s 84 win, it wasn’t that the economy was doing great, but that in the previous it year it had been (slowly) but steadily improving, which greatly impacted how people viewed his economic polices. And no, I’m not saying “if only Gore was Reagan!”

                Even with the media and Nader against him, Gore nearly won (and should of demanded a recount.) If Gore ran on the (most obvious) campaign platform, he should have won.

                • No, I don’t think that Gore bears any major amount of responsibility for losing the 2000 election by any reasonable standard. The campaign he ran, on its own terms, was perfectly fine by modern standards, and certainly better than the campaign Bush ran. And counterfactuals such as yours that involve pretending the media didn’t bash Gore no matter what he did simply don’t work because…they ignore that the media bashed Gore no matter what he did.

              • brad says:

                As much as I loathe Nader these days, that’s a bit much of the blame. Rove and Cheney and Bush and their henchmen did tend to play a few parts.
                Nader is one of many moving parts that were necessary to create that clusterfuck and give the SCOTUS the chance to install Bush. He bears less responsibility than Kathleen Harris and Jeb.
                Bu he was also the only one, even in many ways including most of the DLC dominated central power holding Dems, in that whole mess who might have been expected to act out of something other than pure personal egotism mixed with self-interest. It wasn’t about the Green Party, it was about Ralph, and especially how Prince Albert refused to come and kiss his ass a bit.

                • Well, I’m not going to “blame” the other candidate for a loss, because that’s just weird. As far as the recount saga, I’d say it’s pretty inarguable that things don’t even get that far if Nader doesn’t run and/or the media doesn’t savage Gore so viciously.

                • brad says:

                  I don’t mean the recount or legitimate opposition campaign activities. I mean purging black voters from the rolls and other illegal and/or shouldn’t be legal tactics used up to and including election day.
                  Takes many elements to create the “perfect” storm, and fucked as Nader and the media were, what they did wasn’t criminal.

    • jim, some guy in iowa says:

      but that was the thing Nader did that hurt Gore, as opposed to the things Gore did to himself ( for example, Lieberman) – “Gush = Bore” fed into the underlying sense that Bush was a moderate Republican – people could vote for some change, but not a lot of change. Little did they know

      • Domino says:

        For the record, I think Nader is a terrible person for whom I have little respect. I was too young to vote in 2000, and given where I lived it wouldn’t have mattered.

        I’m not trying to defend Nader here, unlike some of the commentators on these threads. I just blame Gore for not running his campaign in what should have been the most obvious of platforms.

        • Everythings Jake says:

          Really? Do you like how seat belts and airbags as well as numerous other safety standards auto manufacturers were forced to adopt save lives. How about clean air, clean water, safety standards on the job (i.e., OSHA)? Cause pretty much all of that and much more is due in no small part to the work of Ralph and his “Raiders.” We are talking about substantive policy that has improved the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans.

          But somehow you and Lemieux who have accomplished what exactly, are tearing down a man, who is responsible for the decision of five supreme court justices and the relentless onslaught of a vicious long term campaign by right wing Republicans, the Chamber of Commerce as outlined in the Powell Memorandum how?

          Also too, since Gore, y’know, won Florida and thus the Presidency, what was Ralph’s role in stealing the election?

          This attack is just bunk. It was bunk when Lemieux first took on this campaign of defamation, it’s bunk today, and it’ll be bunk 30 years from now when 10 humans who can survive 140 degree days are left (if Ralph “failed”, it might have been win sensible energy policy, but he won’t be the first that complex rolled over on humanity’s way to self-annihilation).

  13. Joe says:

    Note “ralph” means “vomit.”

  14. Dave Creswell says:

    I have never, and will never, apologize for voting for Ralph Nader. If his candidacy did, indeed, usher in the administration of George W. Bush he did the country a signal service in one regard: he proved the dire need to break the stranglehold of the two party system. He did that by providing the first element in a comparison/contrast (Bush/Obama) that has demonstrated, and continues to demonstrate, that as long as our only electoral choices are the Demopublicans and the Republicrats the working and middle classes will lack a significant representation in American politics. Until we have more and better Naders challenging and eventually disrupting the two-party status quo the whims of the rich few (aggressively advanced by the D/R politicians they own) will continue to outweigh the urgent needs of the unrepresented many.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      “If his candidacy did, indeed, usher in the administration of George W. Bush he did the country a signal service in one regard: he proved the dire need to break the stranglehold of the two party system.”

      No it didn’t.

    • joe from Lowell says:

      There are those who would look at St. Ralph’s vote numbers, look at their own history of voting for him, and conclude that their own impressions are not actually a reliable indicator of broader public opinion.

      Please tell us more about what the middle class has learned regarding the two parties, while you have your finger on their pulse.

    • Nader’s candidacy, of course, proved exactly none of those things, and voting for him did nothing to make anything better.

      Go. To. Hell.

    • sharculese says:

      Yeah, I mean sure he was incompetent and almost certainly made things worse, but he appeals to my vanity in a way that Obamney doesn’t!

    • Anonymous says:

      In defense of Nader’s “not a dime’s worth of difference” comment, I give you:

      NAFTA
      Repeal of Glass/Steagall
      Welfare reform
      Lieberman
      DOMA

      Sure, in hindsight, “Oops!”, but Clinton and Co. tacked right pretty hard, Nader seemed like our only hope to pull to the left. And Bush did a great job of selling himself as a moderate “compassionate conservative”. Keep in mind that Bob Dole was the previous Republican candidate, was he really that much more to the right than Clinton on most issues?

      • joe from Lowell says:

        I can actually respect someone making that argument in 2000. It’s not right, but someone could make that case in 2000 without being insane, dishonest, or malicious.

        On the other hand, people who, in 2013, refuse to say Sure, in hindsight, “Oops!”

      • sibusisodan says:

        Repeal of Glass/Steagall

        That bill was passed with a veto-proof majority. Even President Perfect McDemocrat would have had no other option but to sign the thing.

      • brad says:

        Also, climate change was already a thing. One of the candidates was one of the very first public officials to acknowledge and start trying to tackle the issue.
        The other was a (failed) oil man.

        I can’t agree there was legitimate confusion as to the relative differences and merits. Supreme Court appointments matter, racial dog whistles mattered, the readily apparent true nature of a Cheney/Bush Admin despite the thin veneer of compassionate conservatism mattered. Qualifying the Green Party for matching funds simply wasn’t a goal worth putting the nation and world at risk of what happened.

  15. wengler says:

    No fuck you.

    Al Gore won the election in 2000.

  16. The Frito Pundito says:

    No fuck you if you don’t believe in the democratic process. I voted for Gore, but I am really sick of this assumption that Nader somehow stole votes that belonged to Gore. Nader had every fucking right to run and the people who voted for him had every fucking right to vote for him and for you to treat those people who did vote for him instead of Gore as misguided sheep is condescending and bullshit. It really makes me wonder how much you actually respect the whole voting thing – I mean if people can vote for the wrong guy, it must be faulty!

    • Obviously everyone who thinks Nader and his supporters total fuckwits who unleashed the Bush administration on the world really thinks they don’t have the right to vote however they want.

      So, no, fuck you, you juvenile twit.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      This is the second dumbest argument ever — it’s like Sarah Palin’s theory that the 1st Amendment makes criticism illegal. I’m not arguing that voting for Nader should be illegal. I’m arguing that using vanity campaigns to throw elections as a means of progressive change makes you an idiot.

    • rea says:

      And of course, Nadir was quite open about wanting to swing the election from Gore to Bush.

  17. The Frito Pundito says:

    What the results of Nader’s actions may or may not have been are utterly irrelevant. You are the juvenile twit (I bet I’m older than you) who believes that Gore “deserved” those votes and Nader prevented all these stupid people from voting for the person they really should have voted for. Nobody rightfully owns anyone else’s vote and you obviously don’t believe in the democratic process, since you think those votes should have been Gore’s. All the other issues about Nader’s intentions, etc. are just obfuscations.

    Oh and by the way, Gore actually did win the election. And didn’t contest the Supreme Court ruling that stole it from him. But you forget that.

  18. [...] Guns and Money’s Scott Lemieux is appropriately polite to Ralph [...]

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