Updating the previous post -- it's a little long already and Matt in the comments wants to steer it off topic, as usual -- here is Ralph Nader on Lawrence O'Donnell's The Last Word last night explaining his reasons for holding what I will call a 'topics primary challenge' to Obama.
I agree with everything Nader says here. If this is the exclusive premise for his tack (no agenda to turn it into another Quixotic bid for the White House), then I can get firmly behind it. Nader and I would still disagree about working within the Republican-Democratic duopoly for progressive change as opposed to without, but there's certainly no reason why both couldn't happen at the same time.
Here's the letter (.pdf) his group has written to the "slate of potential primary challengers", and here's a sample from the announcement:
The letter points to numerous decisions that have drawn criticism from Obama’s own Democratic Party including his decision to bail out Wall Street’s most profitable firms while failing to push for effective prosecution of the criminal behavior that triggered the recession, escalating the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan while simultaneously engaging in a unilateral war in Libya, his decision to extend the Bush era tax cuts, and his acquiescence to Republican extortion during the recent debt ceiling negotiations.
“Robust debate on the crucial issues facing our nation, including global environmental devastation, should characterize all races for national public office and the Democratic presidential primaries are no exception,” said Brent Blackwelder, President Emeritus of Friends of the Earth. “The public needs to hear whether a second term Obama will be like the first term Obama, or perhaps more like the 2008 presidential candidate Obama or something else altogether.”
I'm in. Let's have that conversation with the president and not just at him. Compel his attendance and participation, and make him listen. That's a very worthwhile objective in our republican democracy.
Otherwise, the 2012 campaign -- the next thirteen and one-half months -- is going to be the same old weekly Republican freak right debate, where TeaBaggers cheer death and corporate takeovers, and the Congress bogs down in another squabble with repetitive conservative talking points and FOX-News-buzzworthy phrases ("class warfare" is this week's poll-tested one).
Otherwise, Obama is reduced to what's he been doing ever since he was elected: forced to defensively respond to some right-wing lunacy. Birth certificates, death panels, job creators, Ponzi scheme, blah blah blah. In other words, losing.
And I'm not in on that.
But hey, don't feel bad if you don't get it; Russ Feingold apparently doesn't either.