In a long interview with the Rocky Mountain News, Ralph Nader accused Barack Obama of downplaying issues of poverty, “talking white” to win votes and appealing to “white guilt.”

Now, I’m not going to write the usual “oh my God, he’s so racist!” post because in no way is Nader implying Obama is inferior because of his skin color. Nor is he delivering some kind of coded message meant to scare off non-black voters. But Nader is being foolish.

Leaving aside whether or not Obama is adequately addressing issues of poverty, a candidate’s skin color in no way obligates him or her to address any specific issue. We don’t expect John McCain to focus more on Appalachian issues just because McCain is of Irish ancestry and so are many Appalachian residents. Why should Obama be expected to base his campaign on inner city issues? Single issue candidates don’t win presidential elections. That’s a truth of which Nader should be well aware.

Yet again, Nader is revealing the kind of narrow view that has led him to mount increasingly frivolous and arrogant campaigns. In 2000, his voice served a purpose. In 2008, he’s become a mosquito. I like Obama’s response:

It’s a shame, because if you look at his legacy in terms of consumer protection, it’s an extraordinary one. But at this point, he’s somebody who’s trying to get attention.”

That about sums it up.

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