Sorry about this being long. I have to get out of that habit.

by Jeffrey Sachs(585)546-1018

With characteristic ignorance and unintelligibility, Rob Clemm has sinned once more against common sense. Last week’s installment of “Right Thinking” focused on the DNC’s supposed hypocrisy by pressuring Ralph Nader not to run as a third-party candidate and thereby endanger a Democratic victory. After all, Clemm argues, what right does any politician have to ask another to step out of the race? “How dare [Democrats] say, in this open society of ours, that someone doesn’t have the right to run. Nader has just as much right as anyone else to run.”

Gee, thanks for the civics lesson, Rob. It’s a good thing the Constitution has you on its side, keeping those fat cats in D.C. in line. Of course, I wasn’t aware that Terry McAuliffe or any other party leader had told Nader he didn’t have the right to run, just that it would be in the interest of the DNC and himself not to. Politicians pressure one another all the time, on all sides of the political spectrum. Sometimes they go too far; that’s when people start using words like “extortion.” The rest of the time it’s the natural grease that keeps the entire system in motion. It’s not like John Kerry took a baseball bat to Nader’s windshield or ran over his dog. Describing what McAuliffe did as a “hissy fit” is so ridiculous I want to crap myself.

But what really pisses me off is the frightening lack of research or detail that goes into every journalistic stillbirth Clemm manages to churn out. Before you wax idiotic for a hundred words about how the Republicans never pressured Ross Perot to end his third-party candidacy, maybe five minutes on the internet would be in order, ’cause that’s about how long it took me on LexisNexis to find a slew of articles all testifying to the contrary. In 1996, when another Perot candidacy seemed to threaten the country with four more years of Clinton, Republican candidate and Senate leader Bob Dole urged his opponent to “not get in the race and make it more difficult for the Republican.” In fact, Dole even sent his top campaign manager Scott Reed to Perot’s headquarters in October of that year specifically to ask him not to run. When reporters at Panama City, FL questioned Dole the next day about this somewhat dubious tactic, the senator ignored them, saying “I’ve got hearing problems.” Brilliant.

Look, I don’t begrudge any candidate the right to urge others to stay out of the race. And more to the point, I don’t begrudge Clemm his right to represent Republican ideology and conservative thinking. I’m no Democratic zealot who’s going to start cutting wrists anytime he sees something he don’t like, but what I can’t suffer anymore is the appalling lack of anything even approaching detail in Clemm’s articles. The man has the right to say whatever he wants, but for God’s sake, please try to say it well.

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