Ralph Nader

Nader, back at the microphones again. (Photo by Reuters/Stringer.)

Ralph Nader is back in the news, keeping up that reputation as a perennial gadfly. Over the last few days, the former Green Party presidential candidate and consumer advocate has attacked President Obama for being weak on climate, weak on the Keystone XL pipeline, and, oh, a war criminal to boot.

In an interview with Politico, Nader laid into Obama for his brief mention of climate change during his recent convention address:

He has been ignoring even talking about climate change, and in his speech in Charlotte, he said, ‘climate change is not a hoax.’ Can you imagine a more defensive assertion of something that is threatening with droughts and famines and invasive species all over the world?

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Nader says there’s a clear reason why Obama hasn’t been tying energy issues to climate change:

There’s just too much money that has to be raised for the campaign. And if you look at the hospitality suites in Charlotte and Tampa, they weren’t exactly anti-global-warming hospitality suites. They were the coal industry, the energy industry, and the gas industry, and the money pours in.

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And he basically thinks he’s got the liberals on the climate issue and solar energy — they got nowhere to go — and so he’s trying to carve out a slice of additional voters on the right side of the spectrum.

Nader argues that Obama will give the OK to the Keystone XL pipeline if he wins a second term: “Everybody, even the environmental community, knows he’s gonna approve it after the election.”

Nader made some of these same points last week during a panel discussion at the National Press Club, saying that Obama and other politicians are “running away from the issue” of climate change. “They’re not even criticizing nuclear power the way some of them were. … They’re not talking about a carbon tax.”

Nader also talked about how he tried last year to set up a debate on global warming between the Senate’s biggest climate denier, James Inhofe (R-Okla.), and the House’s biggest climate champion, Ed Markey (D-Mass.) — and he blamed Markey for not making it happen. (Because giving yet another burst of publicity to Inhofe, a scientifically illiterate ideologue, would accomplish … what exactly?)

In his Politico interview, Nader did manage to find something nice to say about the president: “I like the way he’s emphasized renewable energy, even though he still supports nuclear and fossil fuels, as if they’re all the same, all of the above. But he does speak more about renewables than any president perhaps since Jimmy Carter.”

And there was this backhanded compliment — or front-handed insult? “Obama is the lesser of the two evils” compared to Mitt Romney, Nader acknowledged, but Obama is “the most effective evil, because he brings credibility, he brings the democratic heritage to it, he has legitimized the lawless war-mongering and militarism abroad of George W. Bush.”

Nader wrapped up his interview with Politico by pointing people to his old Vote Nader website, saying it promotes third-party, majoritarian reforms.

He didn’t say a word about this year’s Green Party presidential candidate, Jill Stein.