Nader Raided… A friend of mine with wide experience in politics and national security was telling me, apropos of the GOP’s attacks on Kerry’s medals, that this whole race will ride on whether the Kerry camp is willing and able to practice what my friend calls the political “black arts.” I hope he?s wrong, and not because I?m so squeamish. I lived for 13 years in Chicago, where I thoroughly enjoyed watching, covering, and on occasion playing Chicago-style politics. It?s just that the stakes in this race are so huge and the president?s record in office so obvious, I would expect (hope?) that most voters would make their decisions on the merits. Also, outside places like Chicago, whose politics are a vestige of a previous era, today?s Democratic supporters and operatives simply aren?t comfortable with ruthless political tactics the way their GOP counterparts are.

That said, I as not disheartened to read in today’s Washington Post this anecdote about the difficulties Ralph Nader is facing getting on state ballots:

?In Oregon last month, Nader attempted to round up 1,000 supporters in a day to sign a petition — one way to get on the ballot in that state. But Democratic activists packed the hall and then declined to sign on, leaving his petition a few hundred names short. His campaign must collect 15,300 signatures by today, and it has accused local Democrats and union officials of threatening petition gatherers with jail time if they turn in names that prove fraudulent.?

Could it be that at least some Democrats are getting back at least some of their political toughness mojo? I?d be interested to know of any other examples.

Paul Glastris

Paul Glastris is the editor in chief of the Washington Monthly. A former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, he is writing a book on America’s involvement in the Greek War of Independence.