New Ralph Nader Documentary Charts
The Life Of A Most Unreasonable Man
A new documentary on the life of consumer advocate Ralph Nader, entitled An Unreasonable Man, is now beginning to work its way inward from the coasts. Look for it to soon appear at the Cedar-Lee Theatre, our town's leading movie hall for the thinking person. In a recent New Yorker, David Denby observes that "the long interview with Nader that is dispersed throughout the film suggests that he became, in later years, a thoughtless man who believes only in himself."
Some of that bitterness toward him is no doubt a residue from his decision to run for president in 2000, which split the progressive vote and helped put Bush in the White House, to disastrous consequence. But plenty of it arises from his downright dyspeptic, even misanthropic, personality. Ralph may have earned the right to be called St. Ralph by millions of Americans for his relentless advocacy of consumer protection, but the guy, in all his gloomy joylessness, is still no day at the beach.
I'll never forget my lone brush with him. I was in college at the time, waiting tables at a reasonably upscale restaurant on weekends. One day he walked in with a couple of ladies, who were no doubt his local hosts on a speaking tour. Everyone recognized him instantly, but no one bothered him. As I approached to take the trio's order, he didn't defer to his female companions, but went right ahead and ordered first, in full mumble, without ever making eye contact with me. In the oddest twist of all, he ordered his dessert right along with his entree (I believe it was apple pie a la mode, if memory serves). His social skills, in other words, were non-existent.
Of course, he's not the first social reformer to have been accused of caring about humanity in the aggregate more than about particular individuals. And judged on the whole of his life, you'd have to say that this country would certainly be a much poorer place without his contributions. I've learned to forgive him for his lack of social graces, but I'm not so sure I'll ever forgive him for helping to put Bush in the Oval Office.