While political watchers spent last week looking ahead to primaries in Ohio and Texas, the candidates engaged in a serious debate — over a photo of Barack Obama wearing Somali clothing. (An Obama staffer claimed Hillary Clinton had leaked the shot to make him look Islamic; Clinton’s campaign manager said no one had claimed the photo was “divisive” until Obama and his new friend at the Post played it up.) Latecomer Ralph Nader, unsafe at any speed as far as most liberals are concerned, moseyed into the presidential race. Connecticut senator Christopher Dodd backed Obama; Jersey governor Jon Corzine rushed to aid the Clintons in Cleveland.
In 2000, Ralph Nader brought the Green Party its best presidential election ever — 2.7 percent of the nationwide vote. He also brought the Greens a lot of problems, after many Democrats alleged he cost Al Gore Florida and New Hampshire and thus the presidency. "For a couple of years after that, there were certainly a lot of negative feelings," says Gloria Mattera, co-chair of the New York Green Party. But now that Nader has announced yet another presidential run — so far, without any party affiliation — New York's top Greens are happy to see him back. "He's a great presidential candidate," Mattera says. "I say, 'More voices, more choices.'" Mattera and her co-chair, Peter LaVenia, don't buy the Nader-screwed-up-the-country argument. "I feel like in some ways the Democrats are the biggest obstacles to change in this country," he says. "The Republicans are honest in what they stand for." LaVenia still admires Nader. "A lot of people say he’s egotistical, but I think running for office at 74 is not something your ego would tell you to do," he says. "I think he’s doing it because he has a sense of commitment to American democracy and doesn’t believe the two main parties are upholding their end of the bargain." —Jennifer Chen
We'll admit it, we spent most of yesterday thinking about the Oscars. We tried to do our other normal Sunday things (hating the people in Page Six Magazine, hating the people in the New York Times wedding pages, hating Chris Matthews for having that voice so early in the morning), but most of the day was really devoted to looking forward to seeing George Clooney in a tux. And when Ralph Nader announced that he was running for president again, it was a small blip on our mental radar. (Come on, in competition with imagining what it would be like to be George's human cummerbund, it didn't stand much of a chance.) So this morning we decided to look online to see what other, less absurd members of the media, thought about the news. And it didn't take much digging to discover the general, um, sentiment. An assortment of news headlines:
• Nader, spoiling for a fight, says he'll run yet again. [LA Times]
• Spoilin' for a Prez Run, Says Nader [NYDN]
• Nader's back, spoiling for another White House fight [AFP
• Nader enters race, rejecting label of potential 'spoiler' [Boston Globe]
• Ron Paul: Spoiler? [U.S. News & World Report]
This is going to be fun, isn't it?
In this installment of our remarkably lax-on-ourselves annotated errata, we're not quite apologizing for a Nader flub, a Central Park slight, and another Brooklyn border gerrymander. But we do find it necessary to clarify a few things.
Ambulance-chasing in New York just turned into an obstacle course. Under new state rules, lawyers here can no longer freely advertise their awesome settlement-getting prowess ("Lead paint in your house? Over $100 million in damages awarded!") without providing a sober, diet-pill-like disclaimer that "prior results do not guarantee similar outcome." They're also barred from using words like "heavy hitters" or "we'll fight tooth and nail for you" or any of that macho trash talk beloved by personal-injury, medical-liability, and divorce mavens. Fair enough? Not really: The rule defines almost any private or public communication whose purpose is "the retention of the lawyer" as an ad. Thus, it forces firms to mark their mailings, including newsletters and law updates, as attorney advertising — and guess in which folder an e-mail with those words in the subject line is going to end up. Since the rule could be seen as impinging on First Amendment rights, its opponents have formed the weirdest bedfellowship in recent memory: Ralph Nader is getting involved on the lawyers' side, through his Public Citizen organization. That's right: Nader is now fighting on behalf of the shysters. We suspect this is about to get a little confusing but very, very good.
New York Law Firms Struggle With New Restrictions on Advertising [NYT]