Nader tilts at windmill again

They both seem to come up about every four years. We have an extra day in February and Ralph Nader announces another run for White House.

Nader was seen for years as the nation's premier consumer advocate, but now you have to simply wonder whether he is advocating for his ego with these political jaunts that seem more along the lines of a Don Quixote quest. Not much has been heard from Nader since his 2004 run, which barely made a blip on the political radar. And many Democrats are still steamed over his 2000 campaign, which many of them see as the reason their presidential nominee, Al Gore, lost a razor-thin race in the deciding state of Florida to President George W. Bush. And those came after his 1996 run as Green Party nominee and his 1992 write-in candidacy.

Still, Nader does hit on some hot-button populist notions. He rightly notes that many Americans are disenchanted with both Republican and Democratic leadership these days, as evidenced by Bush's low approval ratings and that exceeded in depth only by the dismal approval ratings Americans give to the Democrat-controlled Congress.

And Nader seems to be almost equal opportunity as far as assigning blame. Nader condemns Republican policies and Democrats' complicity for problems that he cites for middle- and lower-income Americans' financial stress.

"You take that framework of people feeling locked out, shut out, marginalized, disrespected," he said Sunday in announcing his intentions to run. "You go from Iraq, to Palestine/Israel, from Enron to Wall Street, from Katrina to the bungling of the Bush administration, to the complicity of the Democrats in not stopping him on the war, stopping him on the tax cuts."

Nader had no kind words for the presumptive GOP nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, or the two Democrats involved in the bareknuckles battle for their party's nomination - Sens. Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Clinton of New York. He blamed corporate lobbyists and special interests for the trio's failures to support fill Medicare for all and to crack down on military spending that he feels is out of control.

"The issue is do they have the moral courage, do they have the fortitude to stand up against the corporate powers and get things done for the American people," Nader said. "We need to shift the power from the few to the many."

Clearly Nader sees himself as the only candidate capable of leading Americans out of this harsh wilderness. But unfortunately for him, he's unlikely to find many willing to go on the exodus with him. Where once he stood up as a force to be reckoned with as a consumer advocate, now he comes off as someone who is merely grasping for relevance by embarking on a campaign that has no chance to do anything other than to continue to marginalize his status with many Americans.

Yes, Nader is running, but not a viable presidential campaign. The only thing he is running is the risk of ridicule, of being seen as a parody of himself.

Still, he's no Harold Stassen. Not yet, at least.