Dubious congratulations are in order: Ralph Nader became the first public figure to make an inflammatory public remark about our first African-American president, telling a Fox News affiliate that Barack Obama has to choose between being "Uncle Sam for the people of this country, or Uncle Tom for the giant corporations."
Grilled by Fox's Shepard Smith early Wednesday morning, after the election was decided, Nader declined to back down from the remark, which he made in an earlier interview on Election Day.
"Really," Smith said after playing a clip of Nader's remarks. "Ralph Nader, what was that?"
Nader continued to press his point - Obama is too beholden to corporate interests - without acknowledging that many find the term Uncle Tom offensive. (Taken from Uncle Tom's Cabin, the 1852 anti-slavery novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe, the term is used to accuse a black person of behaving subserviently.)
Smith soon cut Nader off: "You had a number of supporters out there, you were running a percentage, this year you were reduced to irrelevant and I just wonder if that's what you want your legacy to be: the man who on the night that the first African-American president in the history of this nation was elected, you ask if he's going to be Uncle Sam or Uncle Tom. Stunning."
Nader's answer: "Yeah, of course, he's turned his back on a 100 million poor people in this country, African-Americans and Latinos and poor whites. And we're gonna hold him to a higher standard."
Later in the interview, Nader told Smith: "Look, I don't like bullies like you. I can't see you. You can pull the plug on me, I'm looking in a dark camera."
Nader later used the word "toady" the same way he had previously used the phrase "Uncle Tom," but said he had no regrets about the latter phrase.
Nader, a consumer advocate, has run in every election since 1996 but had a significant impact only in the 2000 race, in which many Democrats blame him for siphoning off enough votes from Al Gore in Florida to allow George Bush to win the election.
Share your thoughts — what did you think of Nader's remarks and TV appearance?