05/01/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Gabriel Sherman, TNR and Nader's Traitors

In February, Gabriel Sherman from The New Republic (TNR) called me up to talk about Ralph Nader running for president. In the May 7 issue of TNR, an article I'm sure will be of interest to few appeared with the title, "Nader's Traitors," quoting me and a handful of others.

I worked directly for Ralph Nader for about 17 years, and have known him much longer. I'm quoted as saying "I wish he didn't run," accurately, but also presented in a misleading context.

In my long interview with TNR, I told Gabriel that everyone who wrote about this topic seemed to be doing a hatchet job on Ralph, and that I expected that from him. One point I made, which was I believe the source of my quote, was that some activists who worked with Ralph and didn't want him to run, wished instead that he would use his considerable communication and advocacy skills and well-known name to advance various reform campaigns. They knew that his running for president made a lot of people mad, and distracted him.

Ralph, however, has his own ideas about how to spend his time. One thing he wants to do is make the democrats work harder to get votes from the left. That's what he's doing, at this stage of his life.

Is Ralph right or wrong to run? In 2000? 2004 or 2008? In the short run, it always seems like a mistake, and as the 2000 election showed us, a lot can happen in the short run. It is not difficult to make the argument that 2004 wasn't a good year to run, or than 2008 isn't a good year to run either. Everyone makes those arguments all the time, and they have plenty of weight. But there are also real reasons for him, or some other third party candidates to present an alternative. It's not as if the Democrats have earned some type of super loyalty given their track record (on you name the issue).

Ralph has done more in his lifetime than any other living U.S. politician to improve the life of Americans. In my opinion, he has earned the right to do what he wants.

That's what I told Gabriel. But he got the quote he wanted.