Thursday, May 26, 2016


So first we had this, in the wake of Hillary Clinton's rejection of a Fox News debate with Bernie Sanders:

And now the craziness might actually happen:
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have seemingly agreed in principle to give the world the debate it's been waiting for.

Appearing on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" in a show that aired Wednesday night, Trump said he would be willing to debate Sanders if proceeds from such an event went to charity.

Within minutes of the statement airing, Sanders had agreed to the idea.

#BernieTrumpDebate is trending on Twitter, driven (as far as I can tell) exclusively by Sanders fans.

In a bizarre year like this, of course a Sanders-Trump debate could happen. But if it does happen, it won't be a debate.

Donald Trump has no reason to attack Bernie Sanders or seriously challenge him on the issues. Trump knows his general election opponent will be Clinton, even if Sanders and his fans don't. Trump is vicious toward "Crooked Hillary," but he pokes gentle fun at Sanders:
'I just want to run against her. Look, I don't know if you're going to be able to. It could be we run against Crazy Bernie. That could be.'

'He's a crazy man, but that's okay. We like crazy people,' Trump said of Sanders.
Trump will spend most of the "debate" either agreeing with Sanders (on trade deals, on the need for more jobs) or chiding him gently. Trump will have no motivation to bang heads with Sanders -- remember, in the primaries he attacked opponents only when they seemed to be gaining on him in polls of upcoming contests. Trump's goal will be to use the words of Sanders as a club to beat Clinton with. Sanders won't see that coming, though he certainly won't object when it happens. He'll pile on.

It's not going to be a great moment in the history of Western democracy. Sorry, kids.

Clinton's rejection of a final Fox debate with Sanders is the kind of thing that happens in a lot of elections. Candidates with a lead often choose not to debate because they're protecting a lead. As a rule, the voters don't care. Maybe Clinton reneged on a promise to debate (but she'd be crazy to debate on Fox, where the pro-GOP bosses want Sanders to humiliate her) -- but Sanders's insistence on a final debate is also cynicism masquerading as idealism. Yes, there were too few debates scheduled at first, but by now the public has watched nine Democratic debates and twelve candidate forums in which Sanders and Clinton have appeared. None of these have taken place in California, but I'm pretty sure they have TV in California. And the campaign has gone on for more than a year. Have we not had the opportunity to find out what these candidates stand for?

Sanders fans think a Trump-Sanders debate would be the ideal punishment for Clinton because she turned down the Fox debate. The irony here is that Trump, a while back, refused to participate in a Fox debate, held what he described as a fund-raising event for veterans instead, claimed to raised more money for veteran than was actually delivered, claimed a personal donation to veteran that he never actually made until he was pressured to donate by media scrutiny -- and he's gaining in the polls. IOKIYDT.


AND: I didn't mention the most obvious reason Trump will try to be Mr. Nice Guy in an appearance with Sanders: because he thinks he can win Sanders voters. Can he? It's hard to say, but much of the political world thinks he can. So he'll take great pains not to alienate Berners.



(Via Jonathan Chait, who agrees with me that the losers of such a debate would have been Clinton and the Democrats.)


Sanders can't pressure Trump. What does Trump have to lose if he blows this off? But apparently he thinks he can't be sure it would be a 2-on-1 attack on Clinton, so he's backing down. That'll be the end of it.

Or maybe he thinks he derives the maximum benefit in this situation from giving Sanders the line "Donald Trump is afraid to debate me!" That will help him in the Democratic homestretch, which is ratfuck enough for Trump.



So we'll see.


marieburns said...

You might be right. But I'm not sure we can assume Bernie is such a chump. I think Sanders is just as likely to turn on Trump & defend -- if not Hillary -- democracy over Trumpian totalitarianism. Played right, a debate with Trump could cement Bernie's status as an all-American hero. Played in Cornel West fashion, Bernie would expose himself as an unstable crackpot. Either way, a Sanders-Trump debate would help Clinton.

Victor said...

Bernie knows a lot of shit.
tRUMP don't know shit.

Played right, Bernie can run circles around tRUMP - if he decides to. And that's the question.

AllieG said...

Once challenged,Trump will respond the way he always does. Can't help it. And Sanders is nothing if not an aggressive challenger of HIS opponents.

sdhays said...

I think Victor has a point. Trump's debate performances have been in a different universe graded by feces-eating hateful morons (Republican primary voters) and his debate opponents have been idiots and cowards. Bernie will not have the hangups that they had in pointing out Trump's hypocrisies or in calling him a bigot to his face. Indeed, he will have a huge incentive to do so.

If you suspend the disbelief and buy into the idea that Bernie still has a chance at winning the Democratic nomination, Bernie has to take Trump down a peg (or two or three) in this debate. Trump has to leave the debate fuming, preferably early. That means Bernie's going to have to be prepared to go for the jugular and make Trump lose his shit (knowing Trump's thin skin and infinite liabilities, this should be doable). At this point, I've been disappointed in how Bernie has run the latter part of his campaign, so I'm not making a prediction. But there's at least some reason to hope it won't be a disaster - and it may even be the opening shot of bringing the Democratic Party together as it gives Bernie a chance to demonstrate just how odious Trump is and how, while Clinton may not be great, she's worlds better than Trump.

Here's hoping...

petrilli said...

I don't see a downside to this. Sanders can more than handle Trump and a weighted Fox panel. But if he performs badly, Clinton wins. If he lands a solid hit on Trump, Clinton wins. If Trump and Sander's double team Clinton on populist and defense issues, Clinton will be more tightly tethered to progressive issues in the general and we win.

norah smith said...

bernie is losing - he is behind right now in the delegate count - he wants a revolution or a rebellion - he is suing pple left and right - he doesnt care abt the " good of the country" - it is about his ego and that is it. He is giving out lots of mixed messages tbh - right now he has forgotten that he is supposed to be a democrat - what kind of candidate will reject the will of voters who have chosen hillary over him. Nah bernie just wants to make a mess like nader and act as a spoiler

Ten Bears said...

I'll give you this one, with the caveat that were Clinton to share the stage with Trump neither would that be a debate. Folks that have been around here longer than a couple of months know that while I won't vote for her I'm not at all unwilling to grant the benefit of doubt, or acknowledge her skills set. Be careful what you wish for.

Charon04 said...

Bernie has demonstrated pretty clearly that he is neither a rational nor strategic thinker. His current adversary is HRC, and I say Bernie is out to take her down. So - Bernie and Donald for the anti-Hillary tag-team.

I expect this will hurt Bernie more than it helps him, but like I say, this is not a rational or strategic player.

John Taylor said...

Bernie has already called Trump a pathological liar. I would expect him to blast Trump some more.

mlbxxxxxx said...

I don't see a downside to a Bernie/Trump debate. I don't think Bernie will let Trump patronize him. I think Bernie will try to destroy Trump as he'll see it as his chance to prove to the super delegates that he's got the right stuff. If he comes out of it polling strong against Trump, I don't think it'll be a mortal blow for HRC but it makes Trump look like a chump. If he comes out weak against Trump, it underscores why we need HRC at the top of the ticket. At worst it's an entertaining sideshow.

I hope they go for it.

CF2K said...

Trump punk'd Bernie. "Never mess with a pro, Buddy."

Sweet Sue said...

For those hungry for a Trump vs. Sanders debate, try to catch the fake debates on Fusion TV.
The two actors/impressionists playing Trump and Sanders are astonishing and the writing is hilarious.

Jeff Ryan said...

Add to agenda regarding Democratic Rules: "Any candidate who is not the nominee, and who debates a candidate from an opposing Party, shall forfeit all his/her pledged delegates and any claim to the nomination. Any candidate who is not the nominee who engages in such a debate may not be the Democratic nominee."

Okay, sure it could be worded better, but you get the point. No one who is not yet the nominee should be debating a Republican opponent prior to the convention. He should not be representing the party if he has not secured the nomination. His positions will not necessarily be the final platform's positions (in fact, you can pretty much guarantee there will be differences). He hasn't yet earned the right to represent the party. And he will undercut the party's chances of success in the general.

Pat said...

Something for the Donald to do while waiting for Hillary-Godot!
Play cat & mouse with Bernie....

Feud Turgidson said...

"So we'll see."

Only if you take Sue's advice on the Fusion TV Bern-Don America debate series.

Here's a link to the latest:

Drumpt's only gonna do this if he's assured of a way to dominate. So Drumpf is going to tease this out for however long it takes to see if he can get that assurance.

Increasingly, I'm seeing Bernie as less of a foolish idealistic naif than variation on the same demagoguery that's put Drumpf in as the GOP nominee.

Palli said...

#1 There is no such thing yet that can be called an authentic debate with Trump at a podium.
#2 In the high pitch of Fury and Fear over Trump HRC folk are generating they should be crying: "All hands on deck." Bernie knows the danger of a Trump better than HRC & he isn't a personal friend of Trump in the first place.
#3 A tag team of Bernie & HRC against Trump would be great to watch and a Gift to the Nation. HRC is egotistical to think she can do it by herself & get the votes in Nov. HRC cannot see Bernie as anything but an "outsider". It's a very unhealthy & dangerous mindset both to the supposed "big tent party" and the American culture.