Monday, January 18, 2016


Bernie Sanders is rising in the polls, and he had impressive moments in last night's debate -- and now, all of a sudden, a guy who's been flying under the media's radar is getting attention from pundits, and much of it isn't good.

* Vox's Ezra Klein thinks the newly announced Sanders health care plan deceives the public about the likelihood that it will lead to a fair number of denials of coverage.
*Paul Krugman thinks the plan will be painfully disruptive to people who already have decent employer-paid insurance, and believes the fight for the plan is unwinnable in the next eight years.
* Jonathan Chait thinks Sanders is downplaying the accomplishments of the Obama administration in the past seven years (greatly expanded health coverage, Dodd-Frank) and suspects that Sanders will struggle to upend the D.C. status quo.
* Both Chait and BooMan think Sanders will be hobbled in a general election campaign because he identifies himself as a socialist, given the fact that Americans regularly tell pollsters that they don't approve of socialism.
* Oh, and The Washington Post's Stephen Stromberg just thinks Sanders is too angry and shrill, a candidate whose "campaign is not about governing in the real world of trade-offs and constraints" -- a silly thing to say given the extreme intransigence of Washington Republicans, but a persuasive argument to a lot of Americans, who buy the notion that everything that's wrong with our government could be ameliorated if everyone (especially Democrats) would just play nice.
* And then there's the Hoover Institution's Paul Sperry, who, in the New York Post yesterday, previewed the campaign the right will roll out if Sanders wins the nomination in an op-ed titled "Don’t Be Fooled by Bernie Sanders -- He’s a Diehard Communist."

Welcome to the big leagues, senator.

We all know about the policy differences between Sanders and Hillary Clinton (and, obviously, between Sanders and the GOP field). We know that Sanders, if he becomes the nominee, would run as a proud social democrat, and also would run at a tremendous cash disadvantage -- yes, he gets a lot of small-dollar donations, but Republican fat cats, who until this moment haven't been able to unite on a candidate, would instantly band together and spend untold billions to defeat him.

But there's one more thing: Sanders would be the third Democratic nominee in the last eight presidential elections to emerge from New England, never having run a truly nasty race against a typical modern Republican. Is he any readier than Mike Dukakis and John Kerry were for the inevitable one-two punch of a GOP back-alley mugging and extra kicks from skeptical centrists and liberals?

Hillary Clinton has been struggling with this, even though it's what she's experienced for decades. Is Sanders ready for it? It'll be good if we find out now, rather than after he's the nominee.


Ten Bears said...

Americans regularly tell pollsters that they don't approve of socialism... because they, many of whom have directly benefited and many more indirectly benefited by union membership, don't know what it is.

Speaking, of course, as an Anarchist, whose grandparents were Wobblies. Nothing unites the haters so much as their common hatred. Religion or politics, they all bow down to the same damned dog.

Blackstone said...

I intend to vote for the democratic nominee regardless of who it is. But I think the criticism of Bernie underestimating entrenched monied interests (pharma and health insurers) fighting and blocking single payer, which I support, is valid. Gerrymandering will prevent a 1932 style blowout. I'd almost prefer concentrating on other aspects of income inequality, improving Democratic turnout, and if not ending gerrymandering at least taking back state legislatures.

Victor said...

While I like all three of the Democratic candidates, especially Bernie and Hillary, she's been through the right-wing meat-grinder for longer than any other Demcrat I can think of, and survived - if not thrived - and Bernie hasn't.
He's never run a national campaign, and she has - albeit, not that well, since she lost.

Once the conservatives and the GOP concentrate their propoganda, money, and rabid attack dogs, being a "Democratic Socialist" will be only slightly more popular than being a child molestor.

I don't think even Jesus Christ could win an election if they labeled the one presented to us in the Gospels, as a "Democratic Socialist."
Hell, look how they've already twisted his words to advocate for guns, and to screw the poor, elderly, women, minorities, etc...

Unknown said...

What you or most WONT mention is Bernie is a 74 year old Socialist Jew from New England. "How could you be so Anti Semitic?" I dont Fall In Love I Fall To Win. Said thew same thing when Gore chose Lieberman. If Gore had chosen, oh lets say Sen. Joe Biden, for VP, I bet Gore would have won his home state of Tennessee and Florida recounts and Supreme's would not have mattered. I aint anti-semitic but a lot of America is.

brett said...

Is Krugman's point not valid? Should he refrain from making it out of deference to Sanders general decency? I think Sanders would have been better off focusing on a Public Option which would get the supporters fired up without all the recent controversy.

Philo Vaihinger said...

The media critics you quote are mostly liberal Democrats, proving once again that "liberal" does not mean "socialist," or even "social democratic."

And a good part of the party's voters are liberal on the money stuff but just barely that, if at all in their heart of hearts, on the social issues.

Has anyone considered how far Bernie's support among Democrats is due to reluctance to support Hillary because of character issues, rather than enthusiasm for his social democratic agenda, his hostility toward Wall Street, or his open and unmitigated anti-capitalism?

Stellours said...

Our side underestimates the severity of hatred that the other side has for Hillary. I read a comment recently that referenced Hillary's debate question on who her enemy's were. The comment said something like 'well we're already her enemy'. So how many of the other side is Hillary pulling in saying things like that?
If she's the nominee - I predict they will be coming out of the wood work to vote against her.