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.
Disaster 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.
Twisted 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.
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.
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!
Bernie 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.”