Sunday, July 11, 2004

The Dean-Nader Debate

I caught some of Howard Dean's debate with Ralph Nader (NPR has the audio here. When I first read that Dean was going to face off against Nader, I thought it would give the independent presidential candidate some trouble. As is so often in the case, I was wrong. Nader used the debate to talk about policy, which is one of his stronger points. He talked about public transportation, proportional representation, single payer healthcare, withdrawal from Iraq and all sorts of things that would please likely Nader voters. Dean would try to bring the discussion back to practical politics, but Nader would brush off these concerns with a glib remark or two and then return to his dessert menu for the doughfaced progressive. In retrospect, Nader had a natural advantage since he does not really have to take reality into consideration since he will never be within reach of higher office. Howard Dean played it safe and did not engage Ralph Nader, probably because he did not want to antagonize potential Nader supporters, but by doing so he forfeited a chance to drive up Nader's negatives and reduce the danger he poses.


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