Now that John Kerry is the shoo-in for the Democratic presidential nomination, it’s time for The Other Charlotte and me, former co-chairs of the Committee to Save Howard Dean, to pulp our old Dean posters (“Your Rant Makes Me Pant!”) and recycle them in the service of our new cause: reviving Nader’s Raiders so as to give Ralph the shot he deserves at our nation’s highest office.

I’ve been reading with alarm the alarm of so many folks in the chattering classes over Crusader Ralph’s decision to throw his hat into the presidential ring this election year. They seem to be worried that a vote for the Greenie/Independent Nader will be, as it was in 2000, a vote for the Republican G.W. Bush. Read, for a sample of the handwringing, Richard Cohen in The Washington Post and ex-Second Daughter Karenna Gore Schiff (whose dad got blindsided last time around) in the Wall Street Journal. They’re right! A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush! So, folks, that’s why we desperately need Nader’s Raiders, and its can-do spirit, back on the political scene. Ralph, don’t listen to any of these people!

The latest to enter the Ralph-how-can-you-do-this-to-us? ring is the ever-predictable Hendrik Hertzberg at the New Yorker. Hendrik first reminds us of Ralph’s past greatness (which will make you, too, want to join TOC and me in the Raiders Redivivus):

“Because of Nader, baby foods are no longer spiked with MSG, kids’ pajamas no longer catch fire, tap water is safer to drink than it used to be, diseased meat can no longer be sold with impunity, and dental patients getting their teeth x-rayed wear lead aprons to protect their bodies from dangerous zaps.”

You might quibble with some of this. Babies–and adults–in China still pack themselves with MSG in the moo-shoo pork as they have for millennia and suffer no noticeable harm (“MSG headaches” seem to be a strictly Western phenomenon). Kids’ pajamas used to catch fire because they were made of good old natural-fiber cotton, which is highly flammable. After a big Nader scare, manufacturers started spraying kids’ PJ’s with a fireproofer called TRIS–until parents and physicians noticed that TRIS could be a carcinogenic. When I last pajama-shopped for a baby present for a friend’s kid, I couldn’t help but notice that 100 percent cotton was back in style for the BoBo younger set. And even before Nader burst onto the consumer-protection scene in the 1960s, there wasn’t a lot of diseased meat served up in my mother’s kitchen.

Be that as it may, Hendrik’s pajamas are in a twist over Ralph’s candidacy. He writes:

“If Bush is elected to a second term, then four more years of Bush policies, Bush deficits, and Bush judges will likely undo what remains of Nader’s positive legacy. But if Nader once again succeeds in making himself the decisive factor in a Bush victory, then his legacy will be less than zero. His legacy will be George W. Bush.”

Yes! So if you want to be a Nader’s Raider once more, right here is the place to start!