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January 3, 2004
Star Tribune Still Angry About 2000

In a typical editorial, this one "signed" by Commentary editor Eric Ringham, the Minneapolis Star Tribune castigates the Green Party and Ralph Nader for getting George Bush elected in 2000:

Look at what's happened since your champion confused and divided the left in 2000. Nader, the nominal head of your party, dismissed any suggestion that he was splitting the liberal vote, sneering that the difference between George W. Bush and Al Gore was the difference between Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

Later on, when the difference between Dum and Dee in deaths and deficits became all too plain, Nader and friends started arguing that if Al Gore couldn't put up a better fight, it wasn't Ralph Nader's fault. Well, no -- it wasn't Nader's fault that the race was close. It was just Nader's fault that Bush won.

Without Nader, Gore would have won Florida, recount or no recount. He would have won New Hampshire. He would have carried the election.

This is ludicrous. First, there was a lot of evidence that votes Nader received would have gone to neither Gore nor Bush in 2000. Even without that, Gore could have won the election outright if he had just carried his home state, but Tennessee rejected him for Bush. No candidate has ever become President after losing his home state, although Gore came closer than any other candidate before him.

Not to be melodramatic about it, but Nader's got blood on his hands.

Well, God, Eric, let's not get melodramatic! I won't go into detail about justification for the Iraq phase of the war on Islamofascism, but Eric's Commentary section was very supportive of war in Iraq when Gore's former boss waged it, half-assed as it turned out. Eric's department was also very supportive of Clinton's attacks on Serbia on behalf of Bosnians and Kosovars (rightly so) even though no American interests were directly threatened. The only difference between these events and present time is that Eric's party is out of power.

And now it's Nader's fault that Bush is President, and Eric argues that Nader has become the epitome of the tragic hero -- because:

We veterans of Arthur Ballet's introductory theater class at the University of Minnesota learned well the characteristics of tragedy: The protagonist, suffering from some tragic flaw, blindly pursues his own course, unwittingly causing the deaths of multitudes. ... Ralph Nader is the classic tragic hero, recast for the modern stage. He is born not of a royal line, but with a brilliant intellect. In his youth he defeated not a menacing Sphinx, but General Motors. And he has unconsciously permitted not the Plague of Thebes, but the invasion of Iraq. Plus a plague of deficits.

Yeah. Pardon those of us who never took Professor Ballet's Introduction to Theater class -- apparently a substitute for both Philosophy and Classic Lit at the University of Minnesota -- but tragic heroes achieve great power and the power is what destroys them through their tragic flaw in character. All Nader did was to run for President as the representative of a small, minority party that the Strib, under other circumstances, would have endorsed. Rather than a MacBeth or King Lear, Nader much more resembles a Don Quixote who never even seriously threatened a weather vane, let alone a windmill.

Al Gore is the true tragic hero and the author of his own defeat. Born into power and raised to be President, he entered the 2000 campaign as an unusually active Vice President to an administration that could reasonably claim eight years of peace and prosperity, although both were shown to be illusions after the election. Running against a relatively inexperienced politician who had much less public-speaking talent than Gore, the VP managed to lose what should have been a gimme election, through character flaws that became obvious during the campaign, including shocking hubris towards his opponent during the debates that Gore should have also won without breaking a sweat.

Even more to the point, perhaps the Strib's Commentary editor has better topics on which to write than a three-years-dead election and a minor candidate that should never have had any affect on it. Ringham's editorial demonstrates the extent to which the Star Tribune is more interested in licking its partisan wounds and focusing on imagined Deus ex Machina interventions for the failures of its political standardbearers than in facing the present and future -- and the facts -- to determine the best course for this nation and the Strib's community.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 3, 2004 11:32 PM

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