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[The Psycho-Politics of Ralph Nader]

HEADLINE: COUNTDOWN for February 25, 2004

BYLINE: Keith Olbermann; Anne Thompson; Lisa Myers

GUESTS: Brooke Erickson; Dr. Ron Morford; Aubrey Immelman; Jamie Hyneman; Adam Savage

Controversy replaced with tragedy as "The Passion" premieres, a woman at a theater in Kansas dies. 13 FBI Agents scrounging souvenirs from amid the most hallowed ground of the World Trade Center, including tattered American flags. A Michigan congressman reads an administration report and asks will special sauce now count as a durable good?


KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

[. . .]

OLBERMANN: To borrow and break a line from our friends at "The Today Show," where in the world is Ralph Nader? And, more importantly, why? We'll ask an expert who has studied the psycho-politics of Nader about the why in a moment.

First, our third story on the COUNTDOWN, as John Kerry rolls on towards what looks increasingly like a slam-dunk Super Tuesday, Nader, four days after proclaiming his candidacy for president of the United States, has gone from the front page to not answering his pager. This Nader development from Iowa, where a spokesman for the state's Green Party on whose ticket Nader ran in 2000 says it is considering nominating him as its candidate just in Iowa this November.

It is also considering nominating five other potential presidential candidates, including the Iowa Green Party favorite David Cobb. All those headlines over the weekend, "Meet the Press" and Nader today ranks anywhere from one to five notches behind David Cobb in Iowa.

The candidate himself is on a tour of Texas. He held a news conference at the library in Houston yesterday, was to speak tonight at U.T. Austin. Tomorrow is the big speech at a community college in Dallas. The other Nader news since Monday, another commentary in a national publication, headlined, "Please, Ralph, not this year," that publication the wildly progressive "Mother Jones."

Ralph Nader seems to have reduced himself from viable third alternative in 2000 to a kind of national equivalent of Gary Coleman or that adult actress Mary Carey running in the recall race last October. The question on one million lips since Sunday consists of one word, why?

We think our next guest may help answer that. Aubrey Immelman is the director of the Unit for the Study of Personality and Politics at Saint John's University in Minnesota. He's written two scholarly articles about the psychology behind Nader's political aspirations and efforts.

Mr. Immelman, good evening to you.

AUBREY IMMELMAN, SAINT'S JOHN'S UNIVERSITY: Good evening, Keith. Good to be with you.

OLBERMANN: Is there a simple answer to this question, why is he running anyway?

IMMELMAN: Well, because he wants to run. Of course, he has every right to run. But he has very strong principles and he thinks he can best advance those principles by running for president.

OLBERMANN: But one of the pieces that you co-authored is entitled "Childhood Denied: The Roots of Ralph Nader's Righteousness." And you go in some length about this kind of lifelong rebellion against authority. I guess we can all perceive that, and many of us admire it and practice it.

But when other anti-authority figures tell him, no, don't run, you will only be hurting the people who are trying to hurt the establishment, when he gets that message from "Mother Jones," for God's sake, does that not sink in or does that not factor in his decision-making?

IMMELMAN: One would hope that it does, but he seems to be too rigid to really understand that. And that suggests to me that what we're seeing here is the personal psychology of Ralph Nader playing out on a public platform. And I don't know if that's really desirable in democratic politics.

OLBERMANN: For those Democrats, progressives, whoever, who think that this could be a disaster for how they want to see the 2004 election turn out, let me ask you to project based on what you know, what you've studied, what you've written. Is there anything that anybody could say to Ralph Nader that could now get him to drop out once he has declared he's running regardless?

IMMELMAN: Well, there could always be something, but I don't know what kind of threats they could offer him.

But, in general, in polite discourse, I don't really think that Ralph Nader is very likely to compromise. He has decided what he's going to do and he sees himself as a man with a mission. And, if necessary, he will be the vengeful sword of righteousness personified.

OLBERMANN: Yes, well, that always works at election time.

Aubrey Immelman of Saint John's University in Minnesota, many thanks for your insight tonight, sir.

IMMELMAN: You're welcome. Good to be here.

OLBERMANN: Being Ralph Nader, third on tonight's COUNTDOWN.

Here are three things you need to know about tonight's No. 3 story, the top three state where Ralph Nader got the most votes in 2000: No. 3, John Kerry's home turf of Massachusetts, where Nader got 6.5 percent. In Dean country, he raked in close to 7 percent ... Vermont. ... But the state with the biggest Nader fan club, neither liberal, nor Northeastern, at No. 1, the last frontier, Alaska, where one in 10 voters went Green in 2000.

[. . .]

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Last updated February 25, 2008