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79-Year-Old Ralph Nader Thinks 75-Year-Old Jerry Brown Is Sprightly Enough to Run for President

Scott Lucas | December 17, 2013 | Story Politics

There are so many uncertainties in this world. The content of Aristotle's lost book on comedy. The existence of a tribe in the Amazon with no concept of numbers. Whether the universe is an 11-dimensional hologram. What Jerry Brown will be doing in the next election.

Good news. There is an answer to the last question. It is—we have no idea.

An article in the L.A. Times by Mark Z. Barabak ponders the imponderable. What if Jerry were to run for President in 2016? After all, he has a Potomac-worthy resume. "He boasts a household name, an impressive list of accomplishments in the country’s most populous state—a state some once deemed ungovernable—glowing national media coverage and a deep familiarity with the pitfalls."  Granted, Brown would be in his late 70s on inauguration day—a good decade older than the last California governor to take the post, Ronald Regan. But, no one could have predicted Brown's late in life reemergence, first as Oakland mayor, then as the state's Attorney General, before becoming governor again.

In fact, Jerry has run for President three times in the past, in 1976, 1980, and 1992. The third he made the strongest attempt, carrying five states and taking Bill Clinton all the way to the Democratic National Convention. As Barabak points out, the two men have never been close, with Brown opposing several of Clinton's major presidential initiatives and even making a quip about Monica Lewinsky after Clinton endorsed him in governor's race. All that could serve as fuel for Brown to step in as an "Anyone But Hillary" candidate for the Democratic nomination.

But scratch the surface of Barabak's article, and it's clear that Brown's name is being floated by another bete noire of the House of Clinton—Ralph Nader. The consumer advocate, whose 2000 run for President on the Green Party ticket was widely seen as handing the election to George W. Bush from Al Gore, is the only person quoted in the story as directly advocating a Brown run at the Presidency. Is Nader being serious? Or is he feeding the flames of the story to rally opposition to what he calls the "dynastic overtones" of the Hillary bid? Or, is Nader using Brown as a stalking horse for his own return?

Here's the thing. It's never hurt any politican to have his or her name thrown out by the Great Mentioner. Whether Jerry will really run or not, it only helps him to be perceived as running. Imagine having to negotiate the budget with some back bencher from Rancho Cucamonga. Would you rather have that person think you're two steps away from Shady Pines Retirement Castle—or the White House? Exactly.

As for Jerry himself, Brown hasn't said he will be in the race. He hasn't not said he would, either. Quoth the Zen Fascist: mu.

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