Ralph Nader: tragedy to farce

I have liked and admired Ralph Nader so much. I first worked for him when I was in my teens (and he was in his 30s). Under his auspices, encouragement, and relentless pressure, I'd written two books for his organization by the time I was 23 -- if only I'd been able to keep up that pace! Or that sales success, since one of them -- Who Runs Congress, turned out in eight weeks, with Mark Green and David Zwick --- eventually sold in the millions.

Nader was funny, warm, brilliant-seeming, and, yes, caring. He visited my wife in the hospital after our first child was born. For years after that, he never failed to ask about both of our kids (or my wife) whenever I talked with him. I say all this as an indication of why Ralph Nader has so many people who actually are loyal to him -- and who wish they didn't have to face the reality about the choices he has made over the last eight years.

That he stayed in the race in 2000 was tragedy. (See: Invasion of Iraq, 2003, and subsequent occupation.) That he came back in 2004 was unfortunate; his entry in 2008 is farce. Farce because it suggests detachment from political reality (the differences between the Republican and Democratic nominees are so faint that we can say, What the hell!) and, worse, narcissism. The fact that it won't make any difference in the outcome actually is sad.

I will always like and respect Ralph Nader and will always admire the wonderful things he has done. But I wish to God that he had not made this decision, or will reverse it soon. (And, I am sorry that saying this will make me an enemy in his eyes.) He is a better man than his recent decisions indicate.