Clinton is not a Nader

When I read this Op-Ed by Nicholas Kristof this morning, I actually scrolled back to the top to make sure I hadn't misread the name and was actually reading something by Bill Kristol. Okay, that's not exactly true--Kristof on his worst day doesn't bring the stupid like Kristol does, but this piece is really, really bad, and he doesn't take long to get right into it.

Yes, Hillary Rodham Clinton may still have a chance of winning the Democratic nomination. But it’s probably smaller than the chance that a continued slugfest will hand the White House to John McCain.
This is just sloppy thinking. Everyone who reads this blog knows I lean toward Obama now, that I was an Edwards supporter, and that Clinton was never higher than 4th on my list of Democratic favorites, but come on--there is no real evidence that Clinton's continued contesting of the nomination is going to hand John McCain the White House.

Consider this: it's March. That ought to be enough of an argument, but I'll flesh it out. The only people really paying attention to the Presidential race right now are 1) journalists who are covering it, 2) bloggers who are obsessed with politics, and 3) some of the people who live in the next primary states. The average voter won't start paying attention to this race until September or October, so to argue that what's happening now in the Democratic nomination process threatens to hand the White House to John McCain is a bit ludicrous. A month is a lifetime in presidential politics, and we still have more than 7 of those to go.

But more worrisome to me is this notion that Clinton will become the Nader of 2008. First of all, we already have a Nader in 2008--the same one we had in 2000 and 2004, and he's running for President again. But secondly, the comparison just doesn't work, unless you simplify both the Nader and Clinton candidacies to matters of vanity. There's also a sense of Democratic party entitlement just oozing out of Kristof's column.
But if the brawl continues, then she and her husband may be remembered by many people who long admired them as having the same effect on Mr. Obama this November that Ralph Nader had on Al Gore in 2000.
Let's make this clear--the Nader effect in 2000 is way overblown. Gore was done in by the media, by a voter-roll scrubbing in Florida that should have resulted in criminal charges for Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris, and a Supreme Court that put partisanship over the law, and which will be reviled in history books well into the future. Plus, he won the election.

But more importantly, there's the difference that Nader wasn't challenging Gore inside his party. Clinton is, and there's no indication that she's planning an insurgent, third party campaign, or that she'll campaign for John McCain if she doesn't get the nomination (like some former VP candidates I could name). So let's knock off the specious comparisons, please. You're better than this, Mr. Kristof.

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