At 74, this might be Ralph Nader's last bid for the presidency, so he's not holding anything back. And he's not just focusing on his big issues like energy conservation and "corporate welfare." Today, he took on Sen.Barack Obama and race, and slammed the White House press corps for being timid and cynical.
On Obama, Nader, who once hit the Democrat for trying to "talk white" to win their votes, said the presidential candidate is a disappointment to civil rights advocates. He noted that during the civil rights fights, activists dreamed of a day when an African-American president and congressional committee chairs would focus on the unforgotten poor. "People who have fought the civil rights battle economically, politically, legally, as we have since the '50s, would often talk about, 'Look what would happen if we have an African-American president or chairmens or chairpersons of major congressional committees.' It doesn't look like it's going to be what we all thought it was going to be," he says. The old vision, he says, was that a black would understand the plight of minorities. "There would be a real crackdown on economic exploitation in the ghettos and poor rural areas. The poor pay more, they die more earlier, healthcare, et cetera, and African-Americans with seniority or in positions of power we thought would really pay attention to that," he says. But he could only cite hearings by white Rep. Dennis Kucinich who delved into those areas. "Where's the Black Caucus?" he asked. "It's very disappointing." He also said that Obama's move to the middle or even toward McCain on issues such as offshore oil drilling is "blurring" who the Democrat is.
And on the press, he charged that reporters are too cynical and filter too much out of stories. "The media is in a cultural rut," he says. "I'm talking about the questions they don't ask, the questions they ask. Give me a bunch of 10-year-olds instead of the White House press corps, and the president would be far, far more upset and anxious than [he is] now." He also slammed the press as "incredibly cynical" and urged a change. "Don't be so cynical about small starts. If nature was like you, seeds would never have a chance to sprout," Nader says, offering his candidacy as an example. "I wasn't dropped here by a UFO and yet NBC, ABC, CBS have devoted 10 seconds to this campaign."