Ralph Nader: An Unreasonable Man? (film documentary)

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The new film about Ralph Nader, An Unreasonable Man, draws its title from a George Bernard Shaw apothegm: "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself." The film rightly claims to be a documentary. But as the title hints, it's also a suspense movie.

The film's first sequence briefly recounts Nader's much-maligned independent campaign for president in 2004. Although it shows him defending his candidacy as a principled liberal's attempt to make the two major parties "pay attention to the needs of the American people," the opening consists mostly of sound bites by liberal critics lambasting Nader for running.

"No one in the history of the world is on a bigger ego trip than Ralph Nader," charges the political consultant James Carville.

"I think [Nader's candidacy] borders on the wicked," adds Todd Gitlin, the Columbia University journalism professor.

The basis of the animus, of course, is both Nader's 97,488 votes in Florida in 2000, enough of which surely would have gone to the Democratic nominee Al Gore to overcome George W. Bush's 537-vote margin of victory and give Gore the presidency, and Nader's willingness to place the Democrats' 2004 nominee, John F. Kerry, in similar jeopardy.

"Thank you, Ralph, for the Iraq war ... ," sneers the Nation magazine columnist Eric Alterman. "Thank you, Ralph, for the destruction of the Constitution."

In contrast, An Unreasonable Man's second sequence is an entirely positive flashback to Nader's 1966 David-and-Goliath confrontation with General Motors over automobile safety. ...

A star was born. ...

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