27 February 2008

He's coming to take them away!

I've said before that I don't think there's much utility to supporting a Ralph Nader candidacy this year and that the cause of serious electoral reform would be better off if he stayed away but, sweet lord, the throttled squeals of the liberal blogs and their obsession with laying all the blame for the Bush years at his feet (IOZ calls it Thanksralphery, which I'm adopting as well) is reaching the point where concern for their health is in order.

Perhaps, as Stump Lane says, they're being tied up on an logical paradox.

The Pavlovian attack-dog reaction of The Partisans to Ralf [sic] Nader’s latest presidential run is— though entirely predictable —nonetheless astounding.

Most befuddling to me are the dual sentiments:

* Gore won.
* It’s Nader’s fault Gore lost.
It does seem difficult to reconcile the Donkey excuses that Bush stole the election and Nader also spoiled it for them. Of course, they say, if Nader hadn't run at all the election would not have been close enough to steal, an assertion both nakedly anti-democratic and wrong on the merits. It makes the common Democratic assumption that all left-leaning voters would owe their vote to the Dems if all other options were taken away, and that they wouldn't join the tens of millions of their fellow citizens who cast their ballot for "Stayed Home and Masturbated"--as an anonymous commenter eloquently put it--a group which curiously skates away scot-free from the liberal inferno.

Thanksralphery is a many-splendored thing, and its dogged persistence is a testament to its utility. Chiefly, though, it's a way to absolve the Democrats in Congress and elsewhere for habitually rolling over for the Bush Administration. It's not their fault, poor dears, if President Gore had been atop the chamber they never would have succumbed to the jingoes crying out for Muslim blood and planting the Stars'n'Stripes in every orifice on the planet. And all the netroots would currently be lining up to elect Joe Lieberman president; the same Joe Lieberman they valiantly tried to unseat from the Senate in the real world two years ago.

I won't suggest that Gore would not have been a better President than Bush; a moist paper bag of goat dung would have been a more useful presence in the Oval Office than the Current Occupant. But Gore was taking the imperial scepter from the man who invented the concept of Cruise Missile Liberalism, launching a few of them off into the wilderness every few months to prove what a Manly, Humanitarian Hero he was. The idea that Gore would have responded in the wake of 9/11 with a markedly different approach to the use of military force is wishful thinking. He might have been a more preferable outcome for the Liberal Hawks Do It Better crowd, but he was no antiwar champion. Even on Gore's trump card, the environment, his record during the Clinton Administration is mixed.

That brings us to an important point. Many people believe they would have been getting the Al Gore of 2006 as president, the man of "Inconvenient Truth" and "The Assault on Reason " rather than the Gore of 2000 who was tied up in the reactionary triangulating shadow of the Clinton years. Gore, to his credit, has effectively admitted this by refusing to run for office again and focusing on his other projects instead.