Nader Meets the Enemy

Posted June 11, 2004 at 5:33pm

Strange bedfellows are one thing. But Ralph Nader having a cozy, sit-down meeting with the very people who are out to get him in this election? That’s over the top.

But there they were, late Thursday afternoon, at Skewers on P Street near 17th Street Northwest, one of Nader’s favorite neighborhood spots, sipping iced tea and other libations and

talking about the 2004 presidential campaign (and whether Nader — as his detractors hope to convince him — might step away from the situation). [IMGCAP(1)]

“It was surreal,” says Chris Kofinis, a founder of the National Progress Fund, the official name of the 527 organization behind TheNaderFactor.com, whose goal is to make sure Nader doesn’t ruin the chances of Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry’s (D) chance of becoming president, as some blame him for doing to then-Vice President Al Gore in 2000.

At one point during their high-tea tryst, Kofinis, who is a Greek-American, and Nader, of Lebanese descent, spoke to one another in Greek. (Nader is said to speak a little of several different languages.)

“It was all Greek to me,” quipped Tricia Enright, the anti-Nader group’s president.

Aside from the charming chit-chat, TheNaderFactor folks, who initiated the meeting, made an appeal to Nader. “We tried to impress upon him how important it is to end the right-wing control,” Kofinis told HOH.

Without explicitly asking Nader to drop out of the race, Kofinis says he and his cohorts told Nader that if “all progressives, all Democrats, all Nader supporters, etc., etc., united, the Bush administration’s control of policy would be over.”

Their bottom-line question: Does Nader believe Democrats could defeat President Bush if he took his supporters to the Kerry camp?

“His answer was, ‘It looks like Bush is self destructing already,’” Nader spokesman Kevin Zeese says.

So, Kofinis adds, “Did we convince him? No. But I think it was a real positive first step.”

Enright says they tried to persuade Nader to agree to form a “grassroots farm team” whereby progressives — generic and corporate alike — can form a winning coalition.

But Nader just isn’t having it.

“Not happening. He is in the race as a presidential candidate until Nov. 3,” Zeese says.

Debacle in Boston. Could there be any more workers on strike in Boston right now?

That would be a big fat “no” from the Democratic National Committee, whose convention at press time was in grave jeopardy of becoming a national catastrophe.

With just about every union in town out to ruin the Democrats’ convention, the DNC wisely chose to cancel Tuesday’s planned media tour in Boston. Asked about the decision, a key Democratic Party aide said:

“The walk-through was going to involve leading 500 members of the press on a tour that amounted to ‘On your left you see your state of the art workspace and filing center’ and ‘On your right we have striking police officers, a lot of workers who will not cross the picket line, and construction that can’t be finished without those workers.’”

Given the less-than-ideal set of circumstances, the aide added, “Reporters are sticklers for left-right balance, so clearly we’ve got to beef up the right side before we let them near the convention.”

The media walk-through has been rescheduled for June 29.

Isn’t It Ironic? It’s been almost 23 years since the late President Ronald Reagan fired thousands of air traffic controllers who went on strike for higher pay and better working conditions. Today, a majority of the controllers who were hired in 1981 and ’82 to replace the strikers are about to retire — en masse.

Officials at the National Air Traffic Controllers Association were scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill last week about the staffing crisis. But the hearing, like most others, was canceled in deference to the week-long memorial services in the nation’s capital honoring the 40th president. The hearing has been rescheduled for this week.

Senator D? Brace yourself, Judd Gregg. Doris Haddock, the 94-year-old activist known as “Granny D” who walked across the country to support campaign finance reform efforts, became the 11th-hour replacement on the Democratic Senate ballot in New Hampshire as the state’s filing deadline passed Friday.

Late Thursday afternoon, news broke that state Sen. Burt Cohen (D) was pulling the plug on his Senate bid due to a “situation” within his campaign that neither his campaign nor the state party would expand upon.

“There are issues that had to be dealt with,” is all New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairwoman Kathleen Sullivan would say about the situation.

Sullivan acknowledged that Cohen’s decision to end his candidacy threw the party for a loop and left them without someone to challenge Gregg, but “you gotta make lemonade out of lemons,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said she is excited about Haddock — whom she described as “a pistol.”

Haddock will walk across New Hampshire in support of her candidacy, Sullivan said.

Missed Call. All journalists — including HOH — make mistakes sometimes, so the folks at the Hotline can be forgiven for thinking they had a snowball’s chance in Washington of beating Roll Call on the diamond.

Just hours after bragging in Thursday’s edition of Last Call! (the Hotline’s afternoon publication) that they would “celebrate their total domination of Roll Call’s EditOrioles” later that evening, the Hotlinedrives went out and lost a well-played game to the venerable Newspaper of Capitol Hill, 12-9.

While they were wrong in their bravado about which team would be doing the celebrating, the Hotline squad proved themselves gracious losers when the two squads joined together for some post-game carousing.

All the same, HOH wouldn’t mind seeing a correction.

Nicole Duran contributed to this report.