Nader Spotting — Filled with renewed resolve to finish my grad studies, I jumped off the Metro at Farragut West after work to see if the Borders on 18th and L had Michael Bratman's Intentions, Plans, and Practical Reason. They didn't. But they did have… Nader, in the flesh, getting interviewed by some nebbish NPR-ish sounding chap about his new book, Crashing the Party.
Ralph started off badly. He was trying to make some kind of point about the populist appeal of his brand of leftist crankery, and came up with a trainwreck of an example in the form of (in Ralph's words) Dirty White Men, Michael Moore's new book. (I'm surprised he didn't call him 'Roger'.) According to Nader, Moore's book has had “no publicity,” aside from a “brief appearance” on Politically Incorrect, yet somehow managed to rocket to the top of the NYT bestseller list. I laughed audibly, and the assembled alpaca-clad zealots riddled me with sally of annoyed gazes. I was astonished. Really! You don't need to watch much TV to have noticed Moore's relentless media whoring of his latest achievement in letters. He's been ubiquitous. At this point I would regard a Moore appearance in a John Basedow commercial with nonchalance. (“Tired of looking like a disheveled, hypocritical swine? Try Fitness Made Simple!”) Anyway, bad start.
He went on to say some stupid things about AIDS drugs and “Big Pharma,” and the meaning of freedom. However, I found myself ultimately disappointed by repeated agreement… about the two party system; about corporate welfare; about the grotesqueness of the “Patriot Act.” And that was just no fun. And I was hungry. So I decamped and read my new Peter van Inwagen book over fogged glasses and a huge bowl of steaming curry lakhsa at the Malaysian place up the street. It's pretty hard to stay annoyed at a benighted busybody like Nader while enjoying the fruits of the land: huge chain bookstores, funny analytic philosophers, savory curried soups.