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Nader Lashes Bush Policy
Published on Friday, October 11, 2002 by the Salt Lake Tribune
Nader Lashes Bush Policy
by Kirsten Stewart
 

President Bush should abandon his "one-track, monomaniacal" focus on war with Iraq and concentrate instead on America and domestic concerns, such as the "corporate crime wave sweeping the country," believes former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader.

"It has been a year since the Enron bankruptcy and only two executives have been charged. No one has been tried or sentenced. Instead, America has been distracted by President Bush's daily drumbeat regarding war on Iraq," Nader said at a news conference Thursday before his appearance at the University of Utah as part of the young voter drive, Rock the Vote.

Ralph Nader
Longtime political activist and one-time Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader appears at Kingsbury Hall on the U. campus Thursday night. He denounced corporate abuses and urged students to get involved in civics. (Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune)

Nader's talk at Kingsbury Hall drew a large crowd of mostly students, who cheered and applauded his satirical jabs at the corporatization of government. Just minutes before the affair, however, the social critic delivered a more pointed condemnation of Bush's anti-terror campaign.

"Entire retirements have been wiped out; entire investments reduced to pennies and we haven't seen the end of it yet," said Nader, suggesting that Bush's true motive for distraction might be to turn citizens away from his own possible complicity in the Enron scandal -- his corporate campaign contributions and "sweetheart loans" he took while on the board of directors of Harken Energy Corp. in the late 1980s.

Nader also slammed Utah Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett for allegedly turning their backs on Utahns who lost their pensions to accounting irregularities and the ensuing stock market tumble.

The Constitution framers "gave the war-making power to Congress," Nader said. "But Congress is on the verge of giving up that authority and of violating the Constitution by signing an open-ended resolution saying the president can do whatever he wants."

Nader also questioned the imperative for war and whether it will do any good.

"Saddam Hussein is a threat to his own people. He has been for years. But his neighbors don't think he's a threat," he said.

Furthermore, striking at the center of terrorism won't eliminate or weaken it, he said, but lead to its further spread -- "a diaspora of terrorists."

To avoid this, Nader later pleaded with U. students to get politically and civically involved. Americans age 18 to 24 have the lowest voter turnout of any age group.

But as Nader warned, "If you're not turned onto politics, politics will turn on you and in a very disagreeable way." He handed out pamphlets containing a 12-point plan for cracking down on white-collar crime, including enforcing strong penalties, supporting sunshine laws, repealing the Private Securities Litigation Act of 1995 and supporting legislation that would give shareholders more power over businesses.

Nader, a Princeton and Harvard graduate, abandoned his law practice in 1963 at age 29 to become a "full-time citizen," which he said "is the most important role you'll play, except that of parent."

Don't be one of those who respond to the question "What's the difference between ignorance and apathy," Nader said, with "I don't know and I don't care."

He noted it is too early to say if he will seek the presidency in 2004.

© Copyright 2002, The Salt Lake Tribune

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