Ralph Nader: Obama Needs to Stand With Progressives; ‘He’s Got to Learn How to Fight’

Sep 21, 2009 2:40pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: As President Obama takes fire from his left on health care, Ralph Nader said today that the president’s push is foundering because Obama hasn’t learned to stand strong with his progressive allies. “The minute either the Blue Dog Democrats or people like Senator [Max] Baucus — a Republican in Democratic clothing — see any kind of ambiguity, any kind of weakness . . . anytime they see that, they eat him alive,” Nader, the veteran consumer advocate and four-time presidential candidate, told us today on ABCNews.com’s “Top Line.” “And he’s got to learn how to fight, how to draw clear lines, and how to go to his progressive base,” Nader said. “He’s never invited progressive leaders to the White House, and they represent a huge constituency that elected him. But he invites CEOs to the White House, of health insurance companies and drug companies. You don’t win that way.” Nader, who has long advocated for a single-payer health care system, said Obama is suffering because of the complexity of his proposals. “No matter what the medium is — you can have massive TV coverage, if your message is too complex, it’s too abstract and you’re not standing with a veto threat you know, to really shape the Congress the way LBJ would, it’s not going to get across,” Nader said. Single-payer health care is one theme of Nader’s new book, his first work of fiction: “Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!” The book, which Nader is calling a work of “political science fiction,” publishes tomorrow. The book imagines 17 ultra-rich, liberal-leaning individuals — George Soros, Warren Buffett, Ted Turner, Yoko Ono, Bill Cosby, and William Gates Sr. among them — gathering in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to launch a new political movement. “Although it’s a big book, every step of the way the reader can say, ‘You know, this could happen.’ Why? Because 17 super-rich older and enlightened Americans decide that they’re going to make it happen,” Nader told us. “And they meet in Maui in a hotel on top of a mountain in January 2006, and they plan the strategy. It’s a smart strategy, it’s . . . bottom up. It mobilizes people in their various roles as consumers, taxpayers, workers, and voters. And they really pour the money in.” Click HERE to see the full interview with Ralph Nader. We also checked in with Time’s Karen Tumulty, who talked about some changes that are likely to be made to the Baucus health care bill, and summed up negotiations with Republicans: “I think that from here on out, whatever Olympia wants, Olympia gets,” Tumulty said, referring to Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine. Watch the discussion with Karen Tumulty HERE.

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