Run Ralph, Run!

Okay, the more I think about Nader getting in the race, the more sense it actually makes to me. Yes, you read that right.
The first thing to understand is that Nader deciding to be in the race today is a very different thing than Nader deciding to still be in the race in November. Just because he gets in doesn’t mean he will stay in — and in fact, that is quite possibly the entire point.
At a minimum, Nader now gets to exert serious leverage against the Democratic establishment, because since he’s in, he now has the ability to give the Dems something they want: him out of the race. That gives him power to affect the Democratic agenda, and bring his pet issues closer to center stage in their platform. Having played chicken with Nader in 2000 and lost, Democratic leaders have to assume that he’s at least as crazy this year as he was then, and that he’s perfectly willing to kamakize the Democratic candidate once again if he doesn’t get his way. Say what you will about his 2000 run, but the man now has credibility.
So by getting in now, he guarantees himself influence over the Democrats, and leaves himself in complete control of his own destiny, with two perfectly adequate choices. If he gets enough of what he wants in the Democratic platform, he bows out of the race and clears the field for the Democratic nominee — allowing himself to be respected for both achieving some part of his progressive agenda and for doing his part to try to get Bush out of office.
And if he doesn’t get sufficient concessions — well then, it’s kamakaze time again. He can rightfully say that he was willing to leave the race if the Democrats had simply returned to the progressive principles they have abandoned — and Ralph now claims as his exclusive property — and sleep well at night knowing that he is a Man of Principle.
Once you go through the logic, it becomes rather hard to understand why Nader would even consider not running, actually…
PS – Citizen Smash is currently holding the fort as link-gatherer of blogosphere commentary on Nader’s entry