Wednesday, May 18, 2016


I'm not in the habit of watching primary-night candidate speeches, but I was watching the Bernie Sanders speech last night and was struck by how long it took him to start talking about the issues that supposedly motivated the campaign.

After a round of thanks, Sanders spends several minutes talking about what a longshot his campaign was supposed to be and tells us, with great satisfaction, how much better he's doing than the "pundints" (why does everyone pronounce it that way?) expected him to do. He rails at those in the establishment of his party who don't like him and boasts of how he's succeeded despite their opposition. He recites poll numbers. He recites exit poll analyses.

He sounds very much like Donald Trump.

Well, that's American presidential politics, right? Our campaigns ought to be about issues, or about the prior achievements of the candidates, but the campaigns are so preposterously long and the media coverage is so focused on the horse race that eventually -- or maybe just this year -- they're about how well the candidates are campaigning. Trump has told us for months that Trump is great because his campaign is great. We know Trump will be a great president because he took on so many challengers and did it by campaigning in an unconventional way. The Sanders message for the first twelve or thirteen minutes of this speech is very similar.

I like what Sanders says when he stops talking about the glorious nature of his campaign. I understand that the "revolution" he talks about would not magically happen if he became president, but I know that Hillary Clinton will also be stymied if she's president, because we'll have the same Congress we have now, or a slightly more Democratic one. (Even a much more Democratic Congress bottled up much of the Obama agenda in 2009 and 2010 because of Republican sabotage.)

So, screw it, maybe Democrats are making a mistake by nominating the popular-vote and delegate leader. Maybe we should give the Sanders zealots what they're demanding, sometimes with threats and abuse directed at people who are perceived to be standing in their way. It seems obvious that the Trump campaign actually drew strength from reports that the candidate's supporters engaged in thuggish behavior; similar reports on the Sanders side don't seem to be hurting Sanders at the polls at all, even when Sanders refuses to distance himself from the worst of his supporters.

Or maybe it's because he refuses. Maybe, this year, that's what the American public regards as "presidential": you fire your voters up so much that some of them doxx their enemies and threaten them with physical violence. Nobody ever would have done that out of loyalty to Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio. Nobody seem to want to do it on Hillary Clinton's behalf. That's a sign that they're weak. That's a sign that they're not presidential.

Is that where we are in America now? You're presidential only if some of your followers scare people?


Mr. Driscoll said...

I think rabble rousing and thuggish behavior comes from not having real policies only an agenda. Sanders is a way less intelligent Senator Warren and can't articulate a real route to what he wants. If Warren were running (and I wouldn't be surprised if she does one day) she would be inspiring real passion without the threats.

Phil said...

I was planning on voting for Sanders on June 6 (NJ), but will probably vote for Clinton now, because Sanders' ridiculous behavior.

Never Ben Better said...

A commenter named calling all toasters over at Booman Tribune made this observation, which I find disturbingly persuasive:

"Bernie's statement today makes it pretty clear that he is OK with whatever his supporters do, because everyone else is in the pocket of the 1%. His mask has now fallen off, and Ralph Nader's face is what we see."

Unknown said...

Just a reminder that not everyone makes your hoped-for association of "Ralph Nader" with "traitor to the Party".

Steve M. said...

Just a reminder that I'm your host, and I do.

Ten Bears said...

[Head shaking in sad but not unanticipated disappointment]

Oregon went for Sanders because Oregon remembers who put us out of work, and subjected us to a degree of abject poverty from which we have yet to recover. Washington remembered. Coastal Alaska. Barring Nevada-like shenanigans, California - most of which I'd be happy to give back to Mexico - will go for Sanders; and shenanigans aside Nevada was about as close as Kentucky, who is about to learn what we learned when a Clinton is in the White House. This should be telling you people something, there is a lesson here you can take away from this.

It is (oft) with tongue in cheek when I suggest we of the West flip yawl a friendly gesture and wish everything east of The Rockies a fine fare thee well, but what you people are doing is flipping a not-friendly gesture and yell us to go fuck ourselves.

Where' gonna' get you in 2020? Ain't nothing east of The Rockies we need.

jsrtheta said...

"Nothing east of The Rockies we need"?

So you don't need Bernie?

Well, shit, I don't want him.

AllieG said...

Ten Bears, what the hell are you talking about? Washington and Oregon prospered under Clinton and they're prospering now.

dara said...

I think you're only giving half of the equation in your post. Whenever Clinton has she felt danger, some of her schtick has been beyond the pale and vicious, like Vermont being a hotbed of gun (and death) importation into New York, courtesy of Sanders. Slimy as it gets. But normal politicking, amirite? No biggie.

And her bona fide REPUBLICAN attack on Sander's plans as 'free stuff' -a more utterly destructive to progressive goals strain of garbage it is hard to imagine- while she never worried about how to pay for hare-braining it across the world to engage in a land war in Asia.

All of it shows her lack of standards as a candidate.

Plus, she has needed the Democratic Party's thumb on the scale in many different ways, which is brutally obvious to people who actually care.

So people get angry, and then we piously tut-tut, while conveniently leaving out the cause.

petrilli said...

Nobody should be threatened or made to feel physically threatened in any way. Sanders should have disavowed that shit immediately and unambiguously. He isn't doing it. And now we get to see DWS acting like a victim. I thought he was wiser than this.

Unknown said...

You have plenty of company, Steve M! You can't swing a virtual dead cat on the Internet without hitting a Democrat still muttering about Florida.

But some of us consider "traitor to the party" the kind of crude and frightening thinking we associate with Republicans and other kinds of totalitarians.

If membership in the Democratic Party demands loyalty to the likes of Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her ilk, true progressives will be happy to remain outside it.

Steve M. said...

Im sick of Bernie and DWS. A pox on both their houses.

Sweet Sue said...

So, screw it, maybe Democrats are making a mistake by nominating the popular-vote and delegate leader. Maybe we should give the Sanders zealots what they're demanding, sometimes with threats and abuse directed at people who are perceived to be standing in their way


Sweet Sue said...

I fail to understand why commenters on this and other blogs can't see the historic nature of Clinton's soon to be nomination and, God willing, her Presidency.
Clinton will be the first woman President, and I'm entitled to be as excited about that as I was about the first African-American President.

Feud Turgidson said...

SSue, I've seen it all along. I've also seen it's not going to kick in until Philadelphia.

What I didn't foresee - which I'm kicking myself about, because it happens to everyone who for the first time gets exposed to the awesome seductive potential of the Holy Hand Grenade of presidential campaigns, the Mic of the Demagogs - is this cartoonish old yippie-hippie succumbing to its siren call as bad as anyone I've seen fall prey to it, including the 2 younger Kennedys, both Governor Moohbeams, Fat Al and that grifter Edward.

{And that's just on the D side; on the R side, they regylarly drop like mosquitoes in a fifties fog of DDT.)

petrilli said...

Sweet Sue, I'm trying to convince my 95 year old aunt to vote for Clinton this year even though she dislikes her. But she despises Trump and thinks he's dangerous. So she's decided not to vote at all. I asked her why she wouldn't just go ahead and vote for a woman president if she feels that way. When she was born, her mother didn't have the right to vote. Would it be a cheap shot to pull the guilt card and tell her to vote for her mother?

KenRight said...

Scaring the Elite is arguably small potatoes compared to destroying non-threatening countries.

Chai T. Ch'uan said...

It's a dastardly bit of ventriloquism, if true. However did Sanders manage to get the impartial DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schulz to take time out of her busy day to scold the nation about imaginary fits of chair-throwing by violent Bernie thugs in Nevada, while his own supporters flatly deny anything of the sort occurred and challenge Hillary's PR team to produce some actual video evidence? One might even imagine it's not the Sanders campaign that thinks this is a winning strategy... but that just shows how devious Sanders is being when he (wink wink) "condemns" violence! Makes yer head spin, it does.

Ten Bears said...

Have you lived in Oregon for sixty-some years? The fifth of seven generations, and more, to live in Oregon? Bill Gates (Micro$oft), Phil Knight (Nike) prospered under Clinton as they prepare now. The Logger, the millrat: not then, not now.

You don't know what you're talking about.

jsrtheta said...

"The logger, the millrat." Those jobs have been gone for some time. They ain't coming back, no matter who gets elected.

Meanwhile, what's Bernie going to do? And yeah, Bernie is talking about "free stuff," and it isn't just Republicans that get nervous about it.

This country isn't going to turn into a social democracy anytime soon. Not when it means personal income tax rates above 50%. How many of Bernie's "youth voters" even pay income tax now? How many just send their 1040EZ in and wait for a check?

And who in their right mind think Bernie can do a damned thing about it? When his fellow members of Congress think he's a joke?