TAP DANCING ON THE GREENS….Hey, how about some of that good old time Green Party bashing? Here’s Michael Tomasky today:

Here they come again. As if the last two and a half years have been some sort of game show with no real consequences for America and the world, the Greens signaled at their national committee meeting this weekend that they have every intention of running a presidential candidate in 2004.

It might be Ralph Nader, they say, or it could be Cynthia McKinney, the former congresswoman from Georgia. But short of a megalomaniac whose tenuous purchase on present-day reality threatens to cancel out every good thing he’s done in his life, or a discredited anti-Semite, they’ll settle for someone less distinguished.

….So here’s a thought for an enterprising Democratic candidate: Attack Nader right now, and with lupine ferocity. Say he’s a madman for thinking of running again. Blast him especially hard on foreign policy, saying that if it were up to the Greens, America would give no aid to Israel and it would cease to exist, and if it were up to the Greens, America would not have even defended itself against a barbarous attack by going into Afghanistan.

You know what? He’s probably right.

By happenstance, I just finished that biography of Henry Wallace that I’ve been reading, which means I just finished reading about the 1948 election. We all know that Strom Thurmond ran in that election ? and what a pity that he didn’t win, eh? ? but Henry Wallace also ran that year. He was the head of the Progressive Party and ran on a pure liberal New Deal platform, but one that also advocated engagment with the Soviet Union instead of a Cold War.

Here’s what happened: Harry Truman, who was unloved, unwanted, and considered too soft on communism, was able to spend a good deal of his time attacking the Progressives. Result: by having an ultra-liberal party to his left, he was able to paint himself as a moderate and, more importantly, as tough on communism. Looky there, he said, all the appeasement loons are in Wallace’s party! We Democrats repudiate them and have no place for them.

In the end, all but a million people who had planned to vote Progressive ended up voting Democratic instead, and Truman won the election. Lesson: having a party to your left can actually help by buffing up your centrist credentials even if you run on a basically liberal domestic platform (which Truman did). However, for this to work you have to attack the lefty party and clearly disassociate yourself from them.

As Tomasky puts it, having a Democrat do a Sister Souljah moment on the Greens could be a terrific move. Anybody listening?