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Ralph Nader Speaks On An Obama Presidency


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

 

Comments

I'm a longtime fan of Nader, I think he's done a tremendous amount of good for the American people...

...but how the hell does he go and invoke Uncle Tom on Obama's election night?

Jeez, Ralph, you're supposed to be gracious, not offensive. This may have really, really damaged his reputation. He was already an outsider, but at least most people respected him.

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I voted for Obama, but I also like Ralph Nader. Nader is correct that the middle class has been squeezed for decades, and the standard of living of Americans has gone down for so long. As far as the Uncle Tom comment, that's not a great comment. If he doesn't pay attention to African Americans much and many of people in poverty, then it would feel like a betrayal to some black activists.
Nader wants him to take on corporate power. Nader didn't say he is an Uncle Tom, but if he ignores the plight of black people, then it would be like a betrayal.

I'm sorry ... I couldn't watch this whole interview. Nader lost what little credibility he had left when he referred to Obama as an "Uncle Tom":

http://www.americablog.com/2008/11/when-fox-news-defends-obama-weve.html#disqus_thread

I thought Nader called Obama an Uncle Sam.

oh wait a second, he didn't.

He was speculating on whether or not Obama MIGHT BE an Uncle Sam.

My bad. I tend to only hear what I want to hear.

Well aside from his "Uncle Tom" comment, Nader has a point regarding the disadvantages of a two party system. The current parties have been in power for over 150 years. Prior to that, power shifted quite frequently compared to today.

I just wonder if at some point in my life time, either one of the current political parties will fall and give way to some 3rd party, or if a 3rd party will have equal power to the two we currently have.

As someone who aligns himself as a libertarian, I personally don't think it will happen.

Saying that obama has to decide to not be an "Uncle Tom" is akin to saying he has to choose, not to be a "ni##*r".

But Nader can't even admit he shouldn't have said that.

Nader's intellect may be sharp but I think his behavior here as well in general shows that his motivation is not idealism but Ego.

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I don't think it's ego at all, I think his motivations are completely genuine.

Rather I think his abrasive behavior stems from his frustration at not being able to motivate change when he feels it is so patently obvious it is necessary. He is getting older and I can imagine his exasperation can, at times, completely overwhelm him.

I think the reality is that Nader is a crusader, in the best sense of the word, and he can not bring himself to compromise on the issues he feels are so fundamentally important to our country. The problem is that this very quality makes him a horrible politician because he is completely unwilling to work with anyone that is outside his sphere of ideology.

I think that in a lot of ways he could probably be doing a great deal more good by continuing his advocacy rather than politics, it is just not his venue.

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On a related note, I am always amused when libertarians decry the two party system when it was the free markets that gave it to us.

Heh. The cool thing about Libertarianism is that it's like Communism -- if it fails in the real world, then it wasn't Real Libertarianism.

Saying that obama has to decide to not be an "Uncle Tom" is akin to saying he has to choose, not to be a "ni##*r".

I think that is an inaccurate characterization of his statement. It certainly was insensitive, inflammatory, and stupid to use that term given it's origins, but the pejorative is not one of race but rather of abandoning the group you are part of. I take it as saying that we will see if he is abandoning those that elected him in favor of corporate America. I'd have used the term corporate stooge.

But whatever you think of the racial aspects of the statement. The underlying issue is an important one, and shouldn't be dismissed simply because of how he framed it.

Problem, though, was that he was being called on it and was too damned pompous to be able to admit the inflammatory quality of the rhetoric he chose.

Given the racist backlash already on display after last night's election results, I cannot help but see Nadar's remarks as not only insensitive, but irresponsible and completely loaded.

I agree that Nadar has an important point to make about the difficult choices that Obama will make in office. I have little doubt that our president elect is aware of those choices--and the pressures he will face from various camps in making these choices. Maybe not, though--and I accept that. Nadar, however, could have made his same point without using such bigoted language.

A black man has just been elected our next president based on his intelligence, political savvy, and his respectful ability to address us like adults. And here comes Nadar with a demeaning and belittling caricature with which to reference him. I am not okay with that.

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All he had to do was admit that he didn't mean any of the racist connotations (i.e. that he was completely oblivious), but he didn't. He's either clueless, or has a George Bush level of refusal to admit mistakes.

PS -- Please approve this. I've tried a couple of times to sign up for an account here, but the cookie usually gets lost in my firewall, preventing me from commenting as a registered user.

I think Nader's characterization is generally poor, no matter the language he decided to use, racist or otherwise. It is a stupid tactic based on a flawed question. He more or less asked Obama:

Are you pure/honest or are you corrupt/deceitful?

Quite honestly, that's an idiotic approach. He might as well as given Obama a choice between good and evil, to go into full Bush dichotomy mode. If this were rhetorically effective, perhaps maybe I'd give Nader a pass. I'm big on framing arguments in a somewhat correct way, and that type of rhetoric makes me sick. But ultimately, I want a good outcome, so I'll compromise my "principles" if the take-home message is accurately conveyed through somewhat suspect means. Granted, Nader is aiming at the right target. However, he is using questionable means and can't even get near the damned gun to fire, let alone come near the target.

not on the topic, but Lwphd you really nailed it on your prediction of the outcome of the election, hopefully you had money on it somewhere.

Hey K! Thanks. I think I'll be off by one state: MO. I'll run off the forum thread to post there so I'm not off topic here.

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Nader is bitter as always, he's as bad as the two major political parties because all he does is polarize issues as much as them, but sits on some high horse.

But whatever you think of the racial aspects of the statement. The underlying issue is an important one, and shouldn't be dismissed simply because of how he framed it.

I didn't mean to dismiss the issue. As I said I think he is right at least when it comes to identifying the problem.

I think his comments only marginalize a legitimate point of view.

I would also say that Nader seems increasingly show the kind of Black and white thinking that we accused bush of. Obama will no doubt have to be a corporate stooge to some extent on some issues in order to make progress on others. The question is, will he push the limits of making change and for every favor he allows for Corps he takes a little freedom back for regular people and start us down a road of change that really puts some power back in peoples hands.

The suggestion that is just a with us or against us choice is as wrong or destructive idea as any.

It's an interesting juxtaposition that shows McCain Conceding after such a divisive and hateful campaign yet Nader can't even consider the possibility after seeing the election of our most progressive president in a generation.

And talking about poverty in a general election is bad strategy. Poor people don't vote. Working Class, middle Class and upper class people do and although many of those folks believe in Charity and opportunity, many do not what to see their tax dollars go to the poor before first going to their needs.

Joe the Plumber is the tip of that dipshit iceberg.

And Obama was trying to get elected and socialist party candidates rarely come close to winning.

Obama will no doubt have to be a corporate stooge to some extent on some issues in order to make progress on others.

Why, corporations don't have a vote?

I certainly agree with you that the comment was unfortunate. It will become the focus not the issue he raised.

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Corporations don't have a vote? We frown on out-and-out vote buying these days, but if you have at least a certain amount of money, you can exchange it for popular or legislative votes. See Duke Cunningham.

Hey I hate corporations and no they don't have a vote, but they employ a lot of people and much of our Capitol is invested in them. If Corporate America dis-invests in American production and the American stock market it would cause enormous damage to the American standard of living. They have power because of the suffering they can cause and are already on the verge of causing.

If we started passing anti-corporate laws in mass then we would quickly see the will of the investment class moving their money elsewhere.

In the long run we would recover and likely be better off, but I think the responsible course is to find a gradual way to reduce their power in a way that doesn't cause large scale suffering.

If Corporate America dis-invests in American production and the American stock market it would cause enormous damage to the American standard of living. They have power because of the suffering they can cause and are already on the verge of causing.

If we started passing anti-corporate laws in mass then we would quickly see the will of the investment class moving their money elsewhere.

So we continue to pay the blackmail. We've been doing it for decades and it continues to get worse not better. There are a number of ways to regain control. Obama has alluded to one, no tax breaks to those who export jobs. It will be interesting to see if he follows through. In fact there are a number of promises he's made. I'll be watching to see if he follows through, and if not why not.

I'll be watching too.

His uncle tom comment is over the line. Completely uncalled for no matter how passionate he is about his beliefs. Mr.Nader, how are you going to lead a country and convince the people that you have the right idea for justice and equality when you would dare make such a racist metaphor? I respect what Nader has done in the past as a consumer advocate. But it just seems he and the select few of his followers are too attached to an ideal instead of thinking what's right and pragmatic for this country at its current state. Sure I would love to see America become a multi-party system but how are you going to do that Mr.Nader when you can't even organize an official party/movement? (You've gone from Green party to Independent party to the Peace and Freedom party on my California ballot.) When I vote for change in this country, I want real change from the status quo and not just change an ideal change with a name thrown on it.

I think that is an inaccurate characterization of his statement. It certainly was insensitive, inflammatory, and stupid to use that term given it's origins, but the pejorative is not one of race but rather of abandoning the group you are part of.

I frankly find Nader tiresome, but in the interest of clarity, I agree with Red. Calling a black person an "Uncle Tom" is equivalent to calling them a "house n*r", and IS a specifically racial remark.

Uncle Tom is a pejorative for a black person who is perceived by others as behaving in a subservient manner to White American authority figures, or as seeking ingratiation with them by way of unnecessary accommodation.

Do I think Nader is racist? No, of course not, that's absurd. But I don't think anyone is saying that, just that the remark was extremely poorly chosen, especially as a resentful remark on the night of an historic election, and it's appalling, indeed shocking, that Nader actually chose to defend it, rather than back away from it as injudicious and ill-chosen.

Most importantly, Barack has not been President-Elect for 24 hours yet, and won't officially be President until Jan. 20th. And this interview was from last night. I am willing to criticize Obama if and when that strikes me as appropriate--as I have on his absurd FISA vote--but my attitude for now is to wait and see--and given the current circumstances in the U.S. economy and Afganhistan, not to expect too much too soon. But Obama has to actually do something as President first, and he hasn't had the chance.

On the other issues. That Obama has, in the past, been tremendously politically cautious, focusing on working for consensus on big issues where practical progress is more immediately attainable, rather than stirring controversy, I don't deny. And at some point, on some issue, he will have to bite the bullet. But Nader, as he makes clear in clip 1, has contempt for this "accomodation", but in my book, it's just called governing, which involves trade offs, compromise, and--to the extent necessary--working within the system. It is open to dispute whether such a cumulative approach is best, but to simply dismisses betrays a fundamental refusal to acknowledge the practical realities that stand in the way of genuine progress.

A lot what he's saying is just bat-shit crazy. This was one of the biggest turn outs in American voter history. "Apathy" is not just inapt, but delusional, description. There may be systematic flaws in the U.S. voting system -- I'd like to see the electoral college abolished for a straight up national vote -- but recognition of those flaws does not preclude genuine participation in whatever flawed but still apparently functional system we have. We just publicly and by an overwhelming majority rejected the nightmare that has been the last 8 years. "A landslide without a mandate" seems to me patently false.

Talking about stagnant and declining wages among rising costs (for health care, energy, etc.) for the middle class is a way of talking about members of the largest socio-economic class falling into poverty--and the idea of creating a strong middle class means bringing more people into it. That emphasis may not be what Nader wants, but it's not a denial of poverty. FISA, fair point. Off-shore drilling, half right: access to more land is granted under the Obama plan by satisfying the requirement of drilling on already owned, unused lands. It's half-right because it's a political concession that appeases voters and ultimately gives the oil companies nothing.

Much of this just struck me as a screed of ressentiment, mixed with extravagant overstate about serious issues (like calling the two-party system, which is deeply flawed, a "dictatorship").

On the other issues. That Obama has, in the past, been tremendously politically cautious, focusing on working for consensus on big issues where practical progress is more immediately attainable, rather than stirring controversy, I don't deny. And at some point, on some issue, he will have to bite the bullet. But Nader, as he makes clear in clip 1, has contempt for this "accomodation", but in my book, it's just called governing, which involves trade offs, compromise, and--to the extent necessary--working within the system. It is open to dispute whether such a cumulative approach is best, but to simply dismisses betrays a fundamental refusal to acknowledge the practical realities that stand in the way of genuine progress.

I agree with this. The United States is leaning so far right of the center at the moment that you cannot just make drastic changes (like the ones Nader proposes) immediately. Change has to come, but in small incremental steps.

I'm sorry but after watching that Fox News interview I have to say, Ralph Nader is an Egotistical Toad. Sure he makes some good points about what's so wrong with our Democracy, but by not showing some remorse or humility for his use of that statement shows what a ego driven mind-job this cat really is. If this was the first time Ralph had made a racist comment directed towards Obama this year and not appoligized for it, I might be able to let it slide, but it's not. He's done it several times this year. I guess he figures use of language like that towards Obama is the only way he's going to get media coverage for his ideas, but in the process he has lost my respect.

"Do I think Nader is racist? No, of course not, that's absurd."

I don't know if I'd agree with that anymore. He accused Obama of trying to take advantage of White man's Guilt for Slavery earlier this year, and made several other comments that surprised me towards Obama's Race, this is not a first for him by any means. If he's only doing it to get some media attention(which seems to be his only defense), it's really no better than if he actually means these things. I think like McCain, Nader is now just old and out of touch. It's a shame, he has a lot of great ideas.

Here, you can read about other Statements Nader has made this year about Obama's Race in this CNN article below.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/06/25/nader.obama/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

"There's only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comes to being a Democratic presidential candidate. He's half African-American."

-Ralph Nader

"I haven't heard him have a strong crackdown on economic exploitation in the ghettos. Payday loans, predatory lending, asbestos, lead. What's keeping him from doing that? Is it because he wants to talk white? He doesn't want to appear like Jesse Jackson?"

-Ralph Nader

"He wants to appeal to white guilt. You appeal to white guilt not by coming on as black is beautiful, black is powerful. Basically, he's coming on as someone who is not going to threaten the white power structure, whether it's corporate or whether it's simply oligarchic. And they love it. Whites just eat it up."

-Ralph Nader

This is why, in the end, I am now completely disenchanted with Nader. I wish him a speedy and complete retirement into obscurity. Sure, the "Uncle Tom" comment was incendiary, and sure its racial connotations are inescapable. And certainly, Nader should have manned up and apologized sincerely, but briefly, and got back to flogging the corporate malfeasance.

But what pisses me off the most about Nader is that his political incompetence is advancing the narrative that advocates of corporate regulation and watchdogs against corporate corruption are wild-eyed maniacs who are outside the mainstream. We now inhabit an American culture that worships at the alter of right-wing free-market ideology. All too frequently, those who disagree with its dogma are heretics. And when corporations really and truly do pose a danger to our democracy, people who believe as Nader does need a seat at the table.

Nader is effectively pushing us away from the table. The more Nader diverts attention away from the real issues of corporate control to distractions in the least graceful way possible, the less use I have for him. I voted for him from a safely red state in 2000 because I respected his message and wanted it amplified. And now he's mangling that message and discrediting those who agree with him. Nader is guilty of political malpractice and oughta be "disbarred" by his supporters and sympathizers.

From now on, I consider Nader part of the fringe and will seek out an advocate who is actually savvy and won't hurt the cause. There is a good chance Obama will underperform on this front. Does anyone else have other ideas?

What, you don't think it's fair for Nader to call out Obama on his corporate connections in the way he did? I don't understand the issues well enough to make some final judgment, on whether Obama is on the right side of the bailout issue, but it doesn't look like the president elect shies away from corporate money. I suppose he can make the same argument McCain makes that it doesn't influence his position.

It's hard to argue that he needed the 1.5 million plus for the campaign and so to me it looks like more of the same. On this issue it's hard to see much difference between the loser and the winer. I think Nader is right about one thing we've been hearing change is just around the corner not for the past two years but for decades. We have also been hearing apologists for the candidates say take it slow, take it easy, give them some time. Do we ever get to enough is enough.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/uselection2008/johnmccain/3023735/John-McCain-and-Barack-Obama-accept-millions-from-Wall-Street-bankers.html

Despite the US presidential hopefuls railing about the errors and excesses of the banking sector, its bosses are among the most important donors to both the Republican and Democrat fighting funds. Senior executives at Lehman Brothers, which went bust last week, have collected in excess of $1.5million for Mr Obama. Meanwhile, John Thain, the chief executive of Merrill Lynch, which merged with Bank of America to stave off financial collapse, has raised more than $500,000 including staff donations for Mr McCain, the Republican candidate's largest donation from any one institution.

In total, securities and investment firms gave $9.9million to Mr Obama and $6.9 million to Mr McCain, according to the Centre for Responsive Politics (CRP). By law, individuals are limited to donating no more than $2,300, but so-called "bundlers", who round up donations from others, have become immensely powerful. They can expect to meet regularly in private with the candidates, in effect buying access to the future president.

You don't like Nader's approach. Okay lets see yours. Write something up and I'll post it here. I'll give you the platform to make the case in a way that you feel is the correct way.

O.K. I will do that. Of course, I'm pretty inexperienced on these issues, so I'm not sure if it will be good. Maybe good just to get people out and criticizing my bad ideas. Like writing, revising even bad ideas can lead to an acceptable first draft.

My first thought is actually to crib from Nader's heyday as a consumer advocate and investigate the tactics he used to get seatbelt laws, etc. Also I think it is worth looking at netroots advocacy and Obama's organizing model as tools. Finally, what kind of things have people who have spearheaded major changes to national law done things? Like what kind of advocacy was required to get Constitutional amendments passed? Not necessarily because I think an amendment needs to be passed. But because I think actually curbing such an entrenched sickness like corporate controlled politicians, that it will take a full-blown movement and outcry before it has political traction.

To be honest, I think Nader would be the obvious candidate to do this sort of thing. After his increased public profile in 2000, he might have been able to succeed. Who knows? Maybe he tried and failed. All I know is that stubbornly sticking to "Uncle Tom" = "Corporate toady" or "Corporate Whore" is counterproductive.

I'm actually a bit psyched about thinking about this. However, it is really late right now in Taiwan, and I have to hit the hay. I've got a vacation planned with my GF this weekend (post election no internet getaway!) so I won't get around to it till next week. I promise this time I won't totally flake like last time.

Ralphie just hopped on the midnight train to irrelevancy.

Bon voyage.

Oh no! Ralph Nader said a bad word! Let's all ignore the substance of his remarks and bash him!

Please. Nader did not call Obama an Uncle Tom. He said Obama had the choice whether to be an uncle Tom or not. And I'm sorry but considering Obama's record, I don't find that the least bit racist. It may be unfortunately worded given the larger context, but racist? No.

When was the last time you heard Obama mention the poor and not the middle-class? When was the last time you heard him address the enormous difference between rich and poor? When was the last time you heard him address the living wage? Would doing either of these things have cost him votes? Would standing up to corporate power make him a socialist, as Adam seems to suggest?

Obama has been on the world stage throughout the year. However, rather than taking advantage of that in order to put focus on things like ghetto issues and poverty (which affect the daily lives of many black people), he has been spouting the typical political rhetoric. I saw great potential in Obama 4 years ago but ultimately he has done nothing but disappoint. He is no different than any other Washington politician. And he has caved on issue after issue. From FISA to the bailout.

Considering his roots, is it not possible to argue that he has sold them out to corporate America? Sure, it might be crass and offensive. But that doesn't necessarily make it any less true. Nor does it make the comment racist. Obviously, I may be wrong about Obama. I hope that I am. But the actions and record of Obama himself have made me pessimistic.

As for the apparent outrage that seems to simmer on this blog (with the exception of you Norm), please. I agree that "Uncle Tom" was an unfortunate choice of words, because--if nothing else--as Norm pointed out, people will simply focus on the use of that term (thinking "Oh no! Racist!") rather than the substance of his remarks, which are very relevant. If you really feel the need to get outraged, might I recommend expending that energy towards a more worthwhile endeavour. Such as outrage against the corporate America that threw us all into this financial crisis. Or using it to hold Obama's feet to the fire and prove Nader a fool.

I still hold a great deal of admiration for Ralph Nader. I agree with someone in another discussion though, who said that Ralph is a terrible politician. He is a crusader. And the very things that make him a great crusader make him a terrible politician (stubborness, unwillingness to compromise). I think the time has come, where Ralph should recognise that he belongs with grassroots organising rather than running for president. With the organisation of the November 5 movement, maybe it has.

In the meantime, kudos to Nader for helping to shed light on the hypocrisy that is American "democracy".

"Please. Nader did not call Obama an Uncle Tom. He said Obama had the choice whether to be an uncle Tom or not. And I'm sorry but considering Obama's record, I don't find that the least bit racist. It may be unfortunately worded given the larger context, but racist? No."

Give me a Break! What if Obama was gay and Ralph said Obama has to decide wether or not he wants to be a Fag for corporate America? Or if he was Jewish and Ralph said he has to decide wether or not he wants to be a Kike for Corporate America? Just admit that Ralph should apologize for the insensitive remark, so we can all move on and talk about the great point he had behind it. No one here is missing or dismissing the point he was trying to make, if anyone really thinks that here then THEY are missing the point.

Oh come on. You don't find comparing the term "Uncle Tom" to "Kike" or "Fag" a little out there? Sure "Uncle Tom" is a derogatory term, but not in the same sense as say "kike, "nigger", "gook" or the like. It's derogatory because it notes a betrayal of your roots. Calling someone an "Uncle Tom" is not the same as calling them a "nigger". It's saying that they have betrayed their roots--and in the case of it referring to black people, that they answer to the word of the White Man to the detriment of those roots. The White Man in this instance being corporate America. The two are completely different laden terms. It would be much like saying that me calling you a traitor is the same as calling you an asshole, bitch, what have you.

And again, Nader didn't call Obama an Uncle Tom. He said Obama had the choice whether to be one or not. Which is true.

Sure you aren't Fox News?

I would hate to see this site devolve back into the "What constitutes racist" discussion that created such divisive discussions last winter/spring, but all the same.

Uncle Tom does not mean betrayal of your roots It means Traitor to your Race and has a context similar to House n$##&r, and also implies a yessir attitude of weakness and inferiority.

Whether or not it is posed as a question is irrelevant. He, by asking and defending it, is saying it is a valid question and term.

But more to the point here that it hard to argue that it isn't a divisive and for many an offensive phrase, that's use only serves to discredit Nader and his ideas.

"Sure you aren't Fox News?"

Wow. Nice to know that it's possible to maintain a debate on this blog without descending into diatribes like that simply because one's opinion differs.

Yes, I'm a right-wing loon and apologist because I do not consider Ralph Nader's statement to be racist. Bravo. What a wonderful example of deductive reasoning. In the same line of reasoning, might I ask if you are Jesse Jackson?

Yes. Uncle Tom can very well mean traitor to your race. But it can also mean betrayal of your roots, which is the term, I have most often heard it employed as (ie. calling a poor man the "Uncle Tom" of the poor or any other given group of people). It's a broad term that is employed beyond racial conventions and my own dictionary carries definitions of both racist and non-racist nature.

Were Nader's comments highly offensive to a great many people? Undoubtedly. Obviously, he could (and should) have gone about it in a way that was more politically correct. If nothing else then to better serve his argument. "Corporate stooge" as Norm suggested, would undoubtedly have been a better choice of wording. But he didn't, instead employing his typically stubborn streak. Ralph has never really cared whether he offended anyone. He has always spoken his mind regardless of the consequences, which is one of the things that makes him a terrible politician. You may find that sort of inconsiderate behaviour offensive. I don't.

Does Ralph Nader consider Obama a lesser man because of his race? No. Does he criticise Obama's race? No. He criticises Obama's record in the light of his race and the historical nature of his election. Obama is the first black man ever to be elected president, which is inarguably a great achievement. That headline alone is racial. Employing the broader picture for what he will mean to black people in general is racial as well. You may call that racist if you like. I would disagree.

Admittedly, I find much of the apparent outrage somewhat humourous. The levels of political correctness in today's political discourse are absurd. In my country even terms such as "foreign worker" or "immigrant" have gained racial connotations, which often cause you to get accused of being racist for employing them. A single mis-step by any public persona or the like, will immediately lead to morning headlines and labels as a racist however misguided.

So Ralph Nader said something offensive. So what? It seems that you consider him irrelevant at this point. Why then waste all this energy railing against whatever words he chose to employ? Aren't you then lending him relevance?

"Sure you aren't Fox News?"

Wow. Nice to know that it's possible to maintain a debate on this blog without descending into diatribes like that simply because one's opinion differs.

How can you be offended? I worded it as a question.

It seems that you consider him irrelevant at this point. Why then waste all this energy railing against whatever words he chose to employ? Aren't you then lending him relevance?

I am not sure my rather limited comments in this string constitute "railing"

In fact I have mentioned in most of my comments that I agree with him on the essential statement of the problems and if anything I find his offensive language disappointing because it leaves a point of view with out a respected national voice.

But lets be clear, you were defending the use of the term Uncle Tom by explaining how different it is from other racial epitaphs.

I was and I still am. To me, calling someone an "Uncle Tom" is no more calling them a "Nigger" than calling someone a "Traitor" is calling them an "Asshole". I believe I have outlined why. To me, the term "Uncle Tom" needn't be a racial slur or even carry racial connotations (as I outlined above). It seems it does to you (and others), which is simply a matter of different interpretation.

And I was not offended (trust me, you won't be able to offend me) by the Fox News line. I was disappointed. The comparison with Nader's comment seems tenous as best. Nader's comment was more of a crossroads nature. There's this path (Uncle Sam) or there's this other path (Uncle Tom). A more correct approach would have been "It's up to you whether you want to behave like Fox News or MSNBC" inferring that my previous comments would have been akin to those found on Fox News.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncle_Tom

The terms history is very much racial and much more than about being a traitor.

And I don't ask this in an accusatory way at all because i don't have any great fear of words or cursing, but I at least, would be appreciative if we could refrain from spelling out racial epitaphs. They are always a little harsh on the eyes.

Could you please define what an "Uncle Tom" is?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncle_Tom

In the context Ralph Nader used it I believe he meant behaving in a subservient manner to Corporate America authority figures, or as seeking ingratiation with them by way of unnecessary accommodation.

Norm,

In context... okay.

If Nader wants to speak of Obama in terms of corporate America, fine. But "Uncle Tom"? Using this term is divisive and really irritates me more than I can explain at this moment. It's too difficult to explain. Uncle Tom? As though Obama is some silly negro bowing down to his master? In context?

I'm sorry, but this term has too much history behind it for so-called "context". If Nader wanted to speak of corporate America, so be it. But he went too far.. too damned far, damn it.

I don't disagree, he should have known that his message would be lost in the fallout from those who honestly take offense rightly or wrongly and those looking for a reason to dismiss anything he says. I think the reason he chose the term was because he liked the parallelism of Uncle Sam and then Uncle Tom, nothing more sinister than that. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, I don't know what he was thinking, or his motivation. I understand those who are not willing to cut him any slack.

There is one thing we can all agree on, the subject is too important to focus on Ralph and not the topic.

You're right Norm about the subject being more important than the topic. The same thing happened vis à vis John Edwards. Still, it is clear to me that neither Nader nor Edwards will be the men to deliver the much-needed messages, because they both have failed in areas beyond the topic.

Time for Nader to go away. Maybe there's a Nice cabin somewhere we can buy him.

There are many young progressives that are carrying the pro-consumer pro-worker banner and are doing it better and more effectively.

Ralph Nader is that crazy liberal Uncle that nobody listens to anymore. He gives anti-corporate crusaders a bad face more often than not. Let's let Naomi Wolf, Naomi Klein, Glenn Greenwald and similar jounalists/crusaders take over for poor old nader.

Hell, Bernie Sanders does a better job than Nader at describing what the problem is nowadays.

There are hundreds of new ways to address corporate welfare and control of government by corporations. However, the way Ralph is trying it, apparently isn't working. It's time to try something new. Obama's "Google for government" needs to be extended to show funding/gifts given to government. We can track every single credit card transaction all over the world, the same should be applied to government. Every donation can be tagged to bring up any conflict of interest on bills that might be affected. God, these programs exist already, just use them and change them to apply to government.

One consumer advocate running for president every 4 years being a racial epithet throwing, namecalling mediawhore is only hurting the cause.

that's unfortunate. nader has been such a paradox in of late. makes a lot of good points, and indeed, on many of the issues, i would prefer his policy ideas over the dem's. but "uncle tom"? what's he thinking about? that's the n-word only different. and his refusal to acknowledge that and apologize, well that's just special. and indeed, his candidacy did help the hate and war administration get elected. poor timing, grandstanding, putting ideals over practical reality. if there's a fire in the house you put it out before you talk about how to decorate it. anyway, here we are, finally, with an elected president. if people stay involved, and contact their representatives and indeed obama, who has a real interest in succeeding for the greater good, then we can make our government slightly less horrible! yes we can.

"But more to the point here that it hard to argue that it isn't a divisive and for many an offensive phrase, that's use only serves to discredit Nader and his ideas."

Exactly.

Am I dreaming? Someone pinch me. Ralph Nader appears on FOX News in order to trash Barack Obama and to help ruin Obama's chances of losing this election. But Shepard Smith is astonished by Nader's comments. Seems that Shepard Smith is more enlightened than Ralph Nader. Shepard Smith was shocked by the outrageous comments of both Joe the Plumber and Ralph Nader.

The times, they are a changin'...

I'm still shocked at this headline... Really?

Ralph Nader calls Obama "Uncle Tom" and Fox News calls him out.

As if Ralph Nader wasn't a big enough tool already, he went on Fox News on election night - the very night Barack Obama broke the racial barrier on the presidency - and uttered the words "Uncle Tom." Not only that, after being called out on the words (which he initially said in a radio interview) by Fox News anchor Shepard Smith - and given a point-blank chance to apologize and take them back, Nader said he wouldn't. It's a stunning bit of television and a lot of people missed it. (No doubt a good portion of the Bay Area, not exactly a bastion of Fox News watchers, did). Up until he spewed out the words, the biggest shocker in this scenario was A) That anybody still cared enough to talk to a washed-up political hack like Nader and B) That Nader could actually hear Smith call him on the offensive language. Nader rarely stops his mouth moving - he's always so caught up in his monotonous blather and meritless belief that he's making points people want to listen to.

Give Shep Smith a lot of credit here. "Really? Ralph Nader - what was that?" And then he just fried Nader. (I love the look on his face when Nader calls him a bully - it's that same look people should be giving Nader right about now for completely not getting it.)

So, let's go to the big board here for the tally: Nader helps the Democrats lose the election in 2000 and then slanders the Democratic winner in 2008? Well played, Ralph. At least this moment brings you (temporarily) back out of obscurity and irrelevance.

In fact I have mentioned in most of my comments that I agree with him on the essential statement of the problems and if anything I find his offensive language disappointing because it leaves a point of view with out a respected national voice.

But lets be clear, you were defending the use of the term Uncle Tom by explaining how different it is from other racial epitaphs.

Well stated Red Seven. Some of what Nader says I may agree with. Now much of what I agree with as far as Nader is concerned is precisely what others will disagree with.

I may disagree with Christopher Hitchens on some points and disagree with him on other points, and it will be the reverse for others.

And yet, both Christopher Hitchens and Ralph Nader have opinions that I find so out of the mainstream, that I no longer respect what they say. And when I am analyzing someone's opinion, I do judge the totality of their opinions. There is so much out there to read, and there are so many people out there who write. I have limited time to live, paint, read etc, and I end up being selective. I no longer select Ralph Nader nor Christopher Hitchens.. their downer negative views bum me out.

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