For months I'd thought and written that Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver was the key driver of toxicity in the the Democratic primary race. Weaver has been highly visible on television, far more than campaign managers tend to be. He's also been the one constantly upping the tension, pressing the acrimony and unrealism of the campaign as Sanders actual chances of winning dwindled.When I watch Sanders now, I don't see a typical politician whose contempt for an opponent is a big act. The contempt Sanders feels for Clinton and the Democratic establishment is now bone-deep. It's classic male anger, rooted in outrage at being disrespected.
But now I realize I had that wrong.
Actually, I didn't realize it. People who know told me.
Over the last several weeks I've had a series of conversations with multiple highly knowledgable, highly placed people. Perhaps it's coming from Weaver too. The two guys have been together for decades. But the 'burn it down' attitude, the upping the ante, everything we saw in that statement released today by the campaign seems to be coming from Sanders himself. Right from the top.
... this is coming from Bernie Sanders. It's not Weaver. It's not driven by people around him. It's right from him. And what I understand from knowledgable sources is that in the last few weeks anyone who was trying to rein it in has basically stopped trying and just decided to let Bernie be Bernie.
So I'm predicting that Bernie Sanders won't endorse Hillary Clinton. He's going to fight to the last primary, then he's going to try to twist superdelegates' arms, then he and his people are going to demand a platform that resolves every disagreement between himself and Clinton in his favor. And when the platform fails to repudiate the party's nominee on every point of disagreement, he's going to walk. At best, he'll offer a pro forma endorsement, maybe not until well after the convention is over, and then he'll sit out the general election campaign. Because this is personal for him. He believes the Democrats won't win if he's not the nominee, so he does no damage by withdrawing from the fray. It's all the fault of Clinton and the party establishment if she loses.
She is a weak candidate, and the party did try to grease the skids for her, but Barack Obama faced the same situation in 2008 and just put his head down and overcame the odds. And the ideas and voters Sanders represents should be in the tent -- but at this point I think giving vent to gut-level anger means more to Sanders than either a Democratic victory in November or a partial win for his movement, with the possibility of greater victories to follow. He thinks he's been screwed. And someone has to pay.
A Sanders supporter expresses skepticism about the Josh Marshall post:
@emilycrockett this is the same guy who has gone out of his way to be nice to Hillary at the debates, including defusing the email story— Robert Cruickshank (@cruickshank) May 18, 2016
Andrew Prokop at Vox says the same thing:
... if Sanders truly wanted to burn the Democratic Party to the ground, he'd be in the press attacking the likely Democratic nominee on her email scandal every day. But he's not.But the email story doesn't touch on economic inequality or control of the political system by the wealthy or any of the issues Sanders considers his own. He's contemptuous of Clinton, but he's not Donald Trump -- he won't use just any available weapon against her, because he's trying to demonstrate the superiority of his belief system, not his own personal superiority. He certainly won't let the Goldman Sachs speeches go, will he?