Friday, June 25, 2004

Those Oregon Conservatives Aren't Stupid

You have to hand it to the conservatives in Oregon. They may have come up with a gameplan to help get President Bush re-elected. And unfortunately, it's perfectly legal.

SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- Two conservative groups have been phoning people around Oregon this week, urging them to attend Ralph Nader’s convention Saturday in hopes of putting Nader’s name on Oregon’s presidential ballot.

The groups make no bones about their goal — to draw votes away from Democrat John Kerry and help President Bush win this battleground state in November.

“We disagree with Ralph Nader’s politics, but we’d love to see him make the ballot,” said Russ Walker of Citizens for a Sound Economy, a group best known for its opposition to tax increases.

The Oregon Family Council also has been working the phones to boost attendance at Nader’s event — with the idea that it could help Bush this fall.“We aren’t bashful about doing it,” said Mike White, the group’s director. “We are a conservative, pro-family organization, and Bush is our guy on virtually every issue.”

Even if it comes from an unusual source, Nader can probably use the help, given that this will be his second attempt to win a spot on Oregon’s ballot.In April, Nader held an evening rally in Portland that was intended to attract 1,000 people needed to sign petitions to put him on the ballot. Only 741 showed up.

Should Nader publicly rebuke the conservatives? Should he risk not appearing on the Oregon ballot to avoid tainting his claim that his candidacy "hurts Bush as much as it hurts Kerry"? The AP story says Nader's Oregon chairman, Greg Kafoury "isn't bothered by (the conservatives) actions." That might say volumes about Nader's campaign -- if in fact it represents Nader's views.

The story does not quote the Kerry or Bush campaigns.

This is a presidential election we're taling about, and perhaps the story the media should be discussing is the GOP's continued efforts to undermine the Democratic Party by cutting corners on the democratic process. The Oregon effort isn't far removed from the GOP-led effort to redistrict Texas to increase the chances of GOP congressional victories, or the fact that the electronic ballot boxes to be used in Florida -- the ones with no paper trail -- are made by a company headed by the Ohio chairman of Bush-Cheney 2004. And if the Oregon conservatives are successful, can we expect similar efforts in other states?

Remember the conservative mantra: "The ends justify the means." If that means Republican dirty tricks, so be it.

Let's see Tim Russert ask Ralph Nader where he will disavow the Oregon effort. Heck, let's see Chris Matthews ask Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie whether he will disavow the effort. Something tells me the major media will look the other way.



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