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Saturday, October 16, 2004  

Opinion: Nader deserves swift kick for Swift Vets tie

Thursday night I listened to longshot presidential candidate Ralph Nader lecture a television audience about principles. He said that adhering to your principles when choosing a candidate to support should be more important than whether the candidate can win the election. Friday, I learned that this advocate of principles has accepted money from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, people who epitomize absence of principles. The group of politically reactionary Vietnam veterans and fellow travelers has engaged in smear campaign of epic proportions in an effort to prevent Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) from being elected president. The evidence that their seedy allegations are false is convincing.

The Washingon Post became inquisitive about Nader's new bedfellows.

Swift Boat Veterans for Nader? A handful of donors to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, an organization that has run controversial ads attacking Democrat John F. Kerry, have also given money to independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader.

Five donors, who contributed a total of $13,500 to the anti-Kerry group, also gave $7,500 to the longtime consumer advocate. That has infuriated some Democrats, who complain that Nader is taking money from supporters of not only a Republican group, but also one he has repeatedly denounced. In August, at a speech at Tulane University, Nader called the group "proxies" for the Bush campaign, which, he said, was attempting to "smear" the Democratic nominee.

When confronted about his hypocrisy, Nader said there is nothing wrong with his campaign accepting the contributions. He asserted that the donations prove his appeal across the political spectrum. One is expected to believe the money changed hands because Right Wing zealots admire Nader's crusades for safer cars and appliances. But, there is a more likely reason for the Swift Boaters to encourage Nader -- he can act as a spoiler in this election. Though there is no prospect of a victory for Nader, he can damage or destroy John Kerry's ability to prevail if he achieves two or three percent of the vote in key states. That is the reason why Republicans have fought to add him to ballots in states where the GOP and the Democrats are neck and neck. It is also why conservatives, including the Swift Boat crew, are willing to donate money to someone they normally would not give the time of day.

Being principled means, at the very least, not bowing to expediency. Ralph Nader, in service to an ego that has become burdensome to himself and others, has not only bowed, but groveled, to persons he should be embarassed to be associated with. He may have tarnished his reputation, which relied on his integrity to an extent most politicians' stature doesn't, irrevocably.

10:30 PM