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.
Game on. I look forward to debating Donald Trump in California before the June 7 primary.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) May 26, 2016
#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.'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.
'He's a crazy man, but that's okay. We like crazy people,' Trump said of Sanders.
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.