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
"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.
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.
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)
"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
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
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.
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