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Flat Ralph

Will Nader run? Does anyone want him to? Would it matter in the 2004 election?

4:00 PM, Feb 20, 2004 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
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Nader has been dismissive toward his critics. "I really don't deal with the web," he told the New York Times, when asked about RalphDontRun.net. "There isn't enough time in the day to go into virtual reality." Nader can also be hostile. For example, he has said that his civil rights are being violated. He told Fox News Channel's Andrew Napolitano recently, that "singling out the Green candidacy of Nader-LaDuke among these other what-ifs that are under the control of the Democratic party reveals a bigotry, a civil liberties offense, against the right of all candidates to run for political office in this country and not be considered second-class citizens."

Nader's supporters share his testiness. After George F. Will wrote a column in the Washington Post blaming Nader for Gore's defeat in 2000, Kevin B. Zeese wrote a letter to the editor in which he accused Will of repeating a "liberal myth." "Gore lost his home state of Tennessee, Bill Clinton's Arkansas and traditionally Democratic West Virginia; with any one of these, Gore would have won," Zeese wrote.

Does Zeese's letter show there is support for a Nader candidacy? Not quite. You see, Zeese is more than a Nader supporter. He's a Nader employee--one of about eight who work at the Nader exploratory committee. Before Nader can become a potent force in the presidential race, he's going to have reach beyond his own flacks. And that's unlikely to happen, says Tom Schaller, the University of Maryland political scientist. "Nader runs this year at his own peril, because there's really a lot of animosity toward him other than his core supporters among mainstream Democrats--including Democrats who would normally be sympathetic to Ralph Nader and his positions." Schaller also had this to say: "Nader does long term damage to his very credible reputation as an activist by running again." Maybe the Democrats shouldn't be worried after all.

Matthew Continetti is an editorial assistant at The Weekly Standard.