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Revenge of the Nerd: Bernie’s Political Ponzi Scheme

Apr25

sanderspointingIt’s time to call Bernie Sanders out for what he is: a fraud.

Not that he hasn’t done some good for the Democratic Party and the country: he has. By raising income inequality, campaign finance reform, the minimum wage, universal health care, Wall Street excesses and other left-liberal critiques, Sanders has fired up young voters and nudged Hillary Clinton slightly to the left.

But from where we sit, Bernie’s gone from being a crusader for lefty ideas to an ego-tripping old crank who just can’t get enough of the rush that comes from people paying serious attention to him for the first time his political career.

Speaking of ego-tripping old cranks, we might do the same, if we had people throwing tens of millions of dollars our way while countless millennial women hung on our every word, no matter how many times we’d said the exact same thing, skimming the surface of complex policy notions with a few tired phrases while actually having little practical idea what we were talking about.

ronpopeilDisaster Zone What, you think that’s an exaggeration? Did you see his appearance at the editorial board of the New York Daily News where he could not give a coherent answer on how he would accomplish his signature rhetorical cause: breaking up the big banks. “Pretty close to a disaster,” was the headline on the summary by the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza.

But wait, as Ron Popeil used to say, there’s more!

Sanders and his highly-paid henchmen continue to argue that their candidate would run stronger than Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump or Ted Cruz in November because that’s what the polls show.

They’re right about what polls show right now. According to Huffpost Pollster’s average of polling  Sanders performs better than Clinton in hypothetical general-election matchups. Against Donald Trump, Sanders leads by 14 points, Clinton by 9. Against Ted Cruz, Sanders wins by 13 points, Clinton by 4.

Which has absolutely nothing to do with what actually would happen if Sanders were, magically at this point (by winning all remaining contests by more than 20 points each), to become the Democratic nominee.

hillarywantedTwisted Logic: Even if, at the end of the nominating process, Clinton was ahead in the popular vote and delegates, Sanders would spend the weeks and months before the Democratic National Convention trying to convince superdelegates to dump Clinton and back their guy, Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver told MSNBC’s Steve Kornaki last Tuesday night.

“They are going to want to win in November,” Weaver said. “And if the polling continues to show that Bernie Sanders is a much stronger candidate in the general election” those superdelegates will support Sanders.

This is nuts.

The reason why Sanders runs better than Clinton against Republican contenders is simple: while Republicans have run virtually no negatives against Sanders (because they want him to be the nominee), Clinton has been accused of everything – literally — from murder to treason over a span of 30 years. Yet she’s still standing.

Calbuzz spelled this out back in January and even some of the laggard MSM have begun to understand the facts. David Corn of Mother Jones argued that the big problem for Bernie would be that he’s a socialist and Republicans would attack him on those grounds.

That’s way too naïve. Sanders would be bludgeoned hammer and sickle as a dead-beat dad with an illegitimate son — as an atheist, commie, pinko out to raise your taxes, crush your religious freedom and your right to bear arms, weaken the military and appease the Russians, set criminals free to rape your daughter, take away your home, round you up and ship you off to live on a vegan commune with leather-clad lesbians and gays in charge.

For starters.

Sanders’ popularity, his favorability and his standing in the polls would drop like a rock. Instead of winning the presidency and perhaps the Senate and maybe even the House — as they could with Clinton as their nominee against Trump –  Democrats would lose it all, including an historic opportunity to keep the Supreme Court from being taken over again by right-wing extremists.

Magican-Kid-party-rentals-DallasHocus Pocus: But wait, there’s more!

Sanders’s argument – that even if Clinton is ahead in the popular vote and the delegate count, he’ll try to persuade super-delegates to support him because he’s more electable, is an assault on his own rationale for his candidacy: wider, more open and transparent democracy. His hypocrisy is staggering: after railing against the whole idea of super-delegates, he’s now suggesting they should be his savior.

It’s the same anti-democratic argument Ted Cruz and John Kasich are making in the Republican Party – except at least with Kasich – governor of Ohio, a key swing state — there’s reason to believe he actually might be more electable than either Trump or Cruz.

Worse, Sanders isn’t even a Democrat and he’s done nothing – hasn’t raised a dime! – to help Democrats throughout the country while Clinton has raised millions for them. Why in the world would those super-delegates stomp on the popular vote and the delegate count to elevate Bernie Sanders?

The plain fact is, while Sanders loves to style himself as an outsider, he’s spent the last three decades living off the public dole in Washington, as a congressman for 19 years and a Senator for nine, and accomplished exactly nothing.

For years, Sanders served with Ted Kennedy – but where was he in 2007, when Kennedy fought fiercely, first against members of his own party and then against the Republicans to pass the first increase in the federal minimum wage in 10 years? We looked in vain for any evidence that Sanders did anything but add a cheap “aye” vote the Kennedy legislation.

While Kennedy delivered one of the more famous floor speeches of this century on the issue, Sanders was where he always was: warming a back bench with the frayed and shiny seat of his pants.

“Bernie was just kind of a mascot for the Dems,” recalled one longtime Senate aide. “He gave a lot of speeches for C-Span.”

But wait, there’s more!

clenched-fistBernie and his Sandersistas like to portray his “political revolution” as some kind of historic development. It’s not — it’s nothing more than the manifestation of the left wing of the Democratic party (with which we often agree) surfacing anew, as it does reliably, in presidential nominating seasons when no party incumbent is running (and sometimes when one is):

Frank Church, Fred Harris and Mo Udall against Jimmy Carter in 1976; Ted Kennedy vs. Carter in 1980; Gary Hart vs. Walter Mondale in 1984; Jesse Jackson vs. Mike Dukakis in 1988; Jerry Brown vs. Bill Clinton in 1992; Bill Bradley vs. Al Gore in 2000; Howard Dean vs. John Kerry in 2008. You could even include Barack Obama vs. Hillary Clinton in 2008.

Ideological policy differences? Sure. Political revolutions? Hardee, har, har.

Some of those challengers continued to argue their case right up to and into the Democratic National Convention. But virtually none of them used their final months to tear down the presumptive nominee as Sanders continues to do and all of them – since they were actually Democrats – endorsed and worked for the election of their party’s nominee.

Sanders shows no signs that he has a speck of loyalty to the Democratic Party. And why should he? He’s not a member of the party and has done nothing to help elect Democrats except sign a couple of DSCC  fund-raising letters and raise a few thousands bucks for some of his supporters. BFD.

What does Sanders want at this point? To push the party toward his progressive goals? To influence who gets chosen as Clinton’s vice-presidential nominee? To speak in prime-time at the DNC in Philadelphia this summer? Because capturing the nomination is off the table. As one Democratic insider told Politico in a piece on whither Bernie: “there’s no path, there’s no math.”

Which is why Sanders — if he truly wanted to defeat the GOP nominee — would return to running for his causes and against Trump and Cruz and stop attacking the all-but-certain Democratic nominee. But that doesn’t appear to be Sanders’s intention because, as we said, he’s not a Democrat and he’s in essence running a scam.

We have to agree with David Plouffe, Obama’s former campaign manager, who tweeted out the other day:

“Sanders has run a stunningly strong campaign fueled by passionate supporters. But raising $$ stating you have path to nomination is fraud.”


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There are 6 comments for this post

  1. avatar Bob Mulholland says:

    I have been a delegate to the last 10 National Conventions and attended dozens of Democratic National Committee meetings, over the decades. I have never met Senator Sanders. He finally came to a DNC meeting last summer in Minneapolis, to speak as a presidential candidate. What bothers a lot of Democrats, is Sanders has shown disdain for the Democratic Party for decades. He ran against a woman (sound familiar) incumbent Democratic Governor, ran against Senator Pat Leahy (almost costing him the election) but now acting like he has been “family” all his life. People from Vermont have said- Bernie is consistent- he is always for Bernie.

    • avatar I.F.Stone says:

      Showing disdain for the “modern” Democrat Party is a badge of honorable perspective since the last the last Democrat President candidate, George McGovern or, before him, Gene McCarthy.

  2. avatar califdems says:

    I agree with part of what DNC colleague Bob Mulholland writes above, in that Senator Sanders has not been a Democratic Party leader during his many years in governance and many of us on the inside are concerned about what would happen to Democratic Party building (and broad victories) if Sanders is the nominee. Nonetheless, the challenge before Team Hillary and Team Democrat is to inspire folks to join her who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 in addition to the new voters who choose Sanders this round. Almost all Hillary supporters from 2008 support her again this election. Nonetheless, in 2016 we are not coming out of eight years of Bush/Cheney and Secretary Clinton now has to inspire towards the future, in addition to the easier aspiring to good Clinton/Gore years before “W.” Folks born in 1992 when Bill Clinton won the nomination now are 24 years old, and teens who could not yet vote in 1992 now are in their 40s. We aren’t building a bridge to the 21st century anymore – we are living it. Secretary Clinton should be able to harvest those young voters, but she expresses little public empathetic vibe for the challenges of today’s youth – especially the urban kids who are far, far away from reaching financial security, even while surrounded by a lot of technological toys. Folks chose Obama over Senator Clinton in ’08 because of the “hope” thing. Sanders is riding that same “hope” wave in different clothes. As a superdelegate I supported Hillary Clinton in 2008 and I will do so again in 2016, and, as a supporter, I deeply wish she would convey more passion about how challenging this economy still is for so many people. The folks at the laundromats do need to be fired up. – Chris Stampolis, Member DNC

  3. avatar pveesart says:

    “…ego-tripping old crank who just can’t get enough of the rush that comes from people paying serious attention to him [her]…”

    Let’s see… That just about describes everybody who has ever run for president (“old” being relative). You single out the senator from Vermont for being old and having an ego? Tell me, in which state are the senators young and selfless? For the first time in my life (I’m 64) the mainstream political establishment is actually paying attention to an honest-to-god leftist. Further, he’s actually worrying them a bit. For those of us on the left who have been marginalized by both parties since FDR, this is pretty heady stuff. I was driven from the Democrats by disgust for Bill Clinton’s policies and have been a DTS voter ever since. As for young people, many feel like they do not have a future with either major party. Why? Because we are clearly on the wrong path and neither party is willing to deviate from it; apparently no matter what. Change is needed now and Bernie (who is really rather moderate) is the only candidate making any noise to that effect. I hope Bernie hangs in there until all the delegates are counted – not because I think he has a snowball’s chance of winning the nomination, but because his message is important. He may not have all the answers (who does?), but he damn sure is questioning the status quo and doing so in a way that is catching America’s attention. Go Bernie!

    • avatar I.F.Stone says:

      I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Bernie is “rather moderate,” unless you are giving disproportionate weight to his gun control position.

      True, he’s not a radical leftist, but he is left. I am a strong Sanders supporter but he’s starting to be divisive in almost the same way that Ralph Nader was divisive in splitting off the progressive/leftist wing of the Democrat Party from the Cocktail Party wing of the Democrat party.

      Ultimately, therein lies my fear about Bernie’s continued criticism of Hillary. It’s not that I mind Hillary being attacked. I don’t. But there has to be a point to it. Now that it is clear that he won’t win the nomination, there is no point. Hillary needs Bernie’s help in that Bernie’s cohort of voters is critically needed for Hillary to win in November.

      So, it’s time for Liz Warren to step in, guide Hillary along the proper path while at the same time attracting, as she already does, Bernie’s demographic of younger and female voters.

  4. avatar I.F.Stone says:

    Phil,

    I, along with three other volunteers, drove from Sacramento to Salt Lake City to work the Bernie campaign in the Utah caucuses. I then drove with one of the original four, a young man who wants to be a military surgeon and who has been admitted into the Keck School of Medicine at USC, to Vancouver, WA to work the Washington state caucuses and them we drove from Washington state back to Sacramento. A total of about 39 hours in the car.

    In light of your column today, I thought you might be interested in an exchange we had on Facebook four days ago and how closely my insights to him matched yours of this morning. “Interested” might not be the right word in your mind. The right word in your mind might be “chagrined.”

    My response might be a little long but I was trying to get him to a more mature place. I start out with his statement and then there is my response to him. I hope you have the time to read it and I’d like your reaction if you have the time to write one.

    Young Man: Do you prefer President Trump, I was asked.

    I do, actually. Trump is who he says he is. Hillary is whatever big money pays her to be. I will never support a corrupt liar like Hillary. To do so is to express consent and support for her corruption. I don’t consent, and I will not support her.

    Unless you are willing to delve deeply into the history of the Clinton legacy starting with Bill, and then take an equally inquisitive look at the Hillary run state department and U.S. foreign policy under Clinton, I do not expect you to understand. Until you do that you will continue to view Hillary as an acceptable alternative to someone like Trump. If you do decide that it is in your best interest to learn as much as you possibly can about who are endorsing, I promise you from the bottom of my heart that you will have doubts about your choice. I do not take my vote, this election, or my words lightly, and I am fully aware of the repercussions and negatives that a republican presidency would carry.

    My Response:

    I can understand your youthful anger, _____. It’s good to be passionate, but not blindly passionate.

    You might want to step back a bit and scan the environment.

    The prize, for me, is the Supreme Court, not the Presidency. The last person I want to see make the appointment is Ted Cruz, but Trump runs a damn close second.

    You know my long held feelings about HRC and her dissolute husband. But this isn’t about me and the concerns I have about HRC’s ethics…and there are many. I won’t vote for her, I said. I still say it.

    But I also told you that if HRC picked Elizabeth Warren as her running mate, I would vote for her if she got the nomination. And it looks more and more like that is going to be the case.

    Or if it shapes up to be a very close race against Trump or Cruz I will hold my nose and vote for HRC, gnashing my teeth and shrieking in the booth as I do so.

    I don’t care much for gambling, but I’m gambling on several things here.

    I’m willing to gamble that Liz is the chosen Veep and that she will have a continued positive effect on HRC in the same manner Bernie has.

    I’m willing to gamble that that the Dems will take back the Senate.

    I’m willing to gamble that Obama doesn’t get his Supreme Court nominee and that a Democrat president appoints someone less conservative than Garland and appoints someone progressive who is much younger and will stick around a bit. Yes, I know that sounds ageist on my part; it isn’t. It’s strategic and philosophical.

    And I’m willing to gamble that the Congressional Democrats will hold HRC’s feet to the fire and not let her revert to her natural Republican state.

    To be honest, if HRC is the nominee, I don’t think we will get the Senate back, but we’ll pick up a few.

    And to continue being honest, I’m a little concerned about the lack of gunfire NOT being aimed at Bernie by the Republicans.

    If I were the Republican strategist, I’d lay off of Bernie and hope he gets the nomination. No anti-Bernie ads now help gives Bernie a winning margin when matched up against Trump or Cruz for now.

    But when the Reeps start sending a fusillade of attack ads at Bernie as nominee, I think a lot of those ratings will slip away.

    Socialist! Communist! Pinko commie! Positions he took in his youth and the things he said. Spending his honeymoon in Russia.

    Nothing substantive, but that makes no difference to the swampwater electorate. Especially those of us who grew up doing the duck and cover drills while neighbors built bomb shelters to ward off a Commie “nuculear” attack.

    There’s nothing new to attack HRC and all the current attacks are starting to wear a little thin for most people, including Republicans.

    And, to be frank and with all due respect to you, Bernie can’t really count on the sustained enthusiasm of the 18 – 30 year old voters that propels him and his fundraising today.

    As good hearted as they are, their enthusiasm tends to wain after a while.

    When Bernie gets the nomination, many in this younger demographic will think “Victory! The war is over. We’ve won.” It will be like after a great bout of sex–cuddle with each other and go to sleep.

    In 1972, the first presidential election in which the 18-year old could vote, there was every bit as much enthusiasm within the 18-30 voting group as there is today for Bernie. And he was running against a despised President Nixon. I was 22 and very involved.

    Nixon swept 48 of the 50 states. It was brutal.

    I don’t want to come out sounding like an old guy who’s preaching to a wet-behind-the-ears young whippersnapper who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    From the day I met you on a long drive to Salt Lake City, I was impressed with your level of knowledge and how much you knew about both current events and about history and political history.

    So I watched you and grew aware of your capacity for work and your ability to work well with all types of people no matter how difficult.

    So, you are 24 years old and , actuarially, have at least 60 more years to live. That’s 15 presidential terms and at least 8 different presidents.

    So, what do you want this country to look like along the way and who are the people who can keep us on the path.

    There is a principle you learn when you bargain contracts.

    “ Attack the problem, not the person.”

    With HRC you are attacking the person, not that she doesn’t deserve some of it. Though I do want to say she has a right to be a little thin-skinned.

    No woman in this country’s history has been so vilely, vitriolically, and unfairly attacked for such a prolonged period of time as Ms Clinton since she came onto the national scene in 1992. That’s nearly a quarter of a century.

    Of course she earned some of it and it was fair. But not the viciousness and tenor that she received. Nobody deserves that. Well, maybe Cruz and TrumpBachmannPalinGohmertWhitmanChristieHuckabeePerryJindalWalkerBrewerArpaioBrownbackS.KingScottWalkerNugentBoltonGingrichPence deserve it, but few others.

    So, back to attack the problem, not the person.

    What are the problems you see that you want the next President and Congress to attack, ameliorate, or solve? And who is the person most likely to get us there?

    That’s your task for the next 60 years, my friend

    Like · Reply · April 22 at 5:32pm

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