Bernie The Ideologue

I waited and waited and waited last night. But no congratulatory words for Hillary Clinton ever exited the lips of Bernie Sanders.

Okay. I get how hard it must be to see and feel tremendous enthusiasm among your young supporters at large rallies around the country and then watch voters go to the polls and vote for your opponent. Sure, that is hard to stomach. But Bernie should make an effort to stomach it. At least he should be a little bit gracious when he loses. Or is it that his famous authenticity doesn’t allow him to honor his Democratic opponent-winner with a few kind words?

Here’s how an AP story, written after Clinton surprised almost everyone with her impressive victories Tuesday night, began:

PHOENIX (AP) — Bernie Sanders kicked off his Arizona campaign Tuesday night without mentioning a string of losses to Hillary Clinton in contests in Florida, North Carolina and Ohio.

Nbernie in phoenixot a mention. Not a word. It’s as if last night didn’t happen. It’s as if delegate math has no bearing on the outcome of the race. It’s as if Bernie is living in a different world, a place where even in the face of near-certain defeat, he still has to, like a wounded Drumpf, attack, attack, attack. The AP article summarized his post-loss remarks about Hillary this way:

Sanders only mentioned Hillary Clinton twice during his Tuesday evening speech. He slammed her for giving speeches on Wall Street for six-figure sums and for having a Super-PAC funded by financial and pharmaceutical firms. He also cited her vote for the Iraq War, drawing boos from the crowd.

Bernie Sanders is not a fool. He has to understand what is happening. He has to know he is fighting a lost cause. So, even if he wants to stay in the race and keep spreading his stirring democratic socialist message, why does it have to include attacks on the eventual Democratic nominee’s integrity? He can argue for single-payer health care and free college tuition without undermining Clinton’s general election appeal, can’t he?

Maybe not. Unfortunately, Sanders’ disposition represents a form—hopefully in his case a mild form—of dogmatism that I don’t discuss as often as I discuss religious dogmatism. Let’s call it political fundamentalism. Political-ideological true-believers on the left, like their counterparts on the right, tend to shoot down, with fundamentalist fervor, anyone who doesn’t always practice the politics of purity.

Let me give you an egregious example of such ideological spotlessness run amok from just a few days ago. Leftist writer Thomas Frank, of What’s the Matter With Kansas fame, published a piece for Salon.com titled,

Bill Clinton’s odious presidency: Thomas Frank on the real history of the ’90s

In that piece (actually an excerpt from Frank’s new book, Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?) you will find some valid criticisms of Clinton’s candidacy and presidency—especially the noxious pre-election execution of Ricky Ray Rector, for which Bill Clinton deserves utter condemnation—and you will find some invalid or misleading criticisms. I’m not going to attempt here to litigate the 1990s and Clinton’s role in what happened or what didn’t happen. But what is the point of publishing this particular excerpt from Frank’s book on Salon—known for attacking Democrats from the left—at this time? Bill Clinton is not running for president. Hillary Clinton is. And she is running on a much more progressive set of policies than her husband ran on and governed by years ago, years ago after Democrats had lost the White House for what seemed to them to be forever.

In Frank’s lengthy excerpt, we see why the piece ran at this point in the campaign. Frank spends one paragraph tying Bill’s “odious presidency” to Hillary. Calling her his “chief political adviser,” Frank then goes on to quote from Carl Bernstein’s not-so-flattering book on Mrs. Clinton. As Frank summarized Bernstein’s claim, Hillary announced that the way to win over public opinion in favor of Bill’s “‘vision’ for what the administration was doing” was to “pick a fight with supporters.” In other words, Hillary’s strategy was to piss off the left, to “discipline” them, so the Clinton(s) could stay in power and do nasty things to working class people like shoving NAFTA down their throats and devastating black people by passing a now-admittedly onerous crime bill.

If you don’t believe that is what Frank-the-purist is claiming, let me quote a remarkable passage from his article, a passage that demonstrates how an ideology, if given enough oxygen, can turn rationality to ashes:

Someday we will understand that the punitive hysteria of the mid-1990s was not an accident; it was essential to Clintonism. Taken as a whole with NAFTA, with welfare reform, with his plan for privatizing Social Security and, of course, with Clinton’s celebrated lifting of the rules governing banks and telecoms, it all fits perfectly within the new, class-based framework of liberalism. Clinton simply treated different groups of Americans in radically different ways—crushing some in the iron fist of the state, exposing others to ruinous corporate power, while showering the favored stratum with bailouts, deregulation, and a frolicking celebration of Think Different business innovation.

Some got bailouts, others got “zero tolerance.” There was really no contradiction between these things. Lenience and forgiveness and joyous creativity for Wall Street bankers while another group gets a biblical-style beatdown—these things actually fit together quite nicely. Indeed, the ascendance of the first group requires that the second be lowered gradually into hell. When you take Clintonism all together, it makes sense, and the sense it makes has to do with social class. What the poor get is discipline; what the professionals get is endless indulgence.

Reading that and knowing it comes from a man of the left is really breathtaking. Those claims are made against a Democratic president. And by extension they are quite openly made against his wife, the front-runner in this year’s Democratic primary. And Frank’s claims dovetail nicely with the message that Bernie Sanders, even facing defeat, is still sending about Hillary Clinton.

Frank’s raging, ideology-driven criticism, and Sanders’ refusal to stop attacking Clinton’s integrity, may tell you why there is so much harmful cynicism in our country today. On my chosen side, on the left, such outrageous criticism tends to produce a cynicism that leads to apathy. Fed a diet of puristic left-wing dogma, working class people—who should naturally look to Democrats for help—often stay away from the polls. Many don’t even bother to register to vote.

And on the other side, on the right, such cynicism that right-wing ideologues have created over the years often leads to anger. We have seen the rise of the Tea Party, which doesn’t give a damn about the Republican Party except so far as it can be fashioned into an instrument of political reaction. And the Tea Party insurgency has done such damage to the infrastructure of the Republican Party that we now see a quasi-fascist as the party’s dominant presidential front-runner, even as some party leaders have desperately struggled to stop him. That’s what can happen when people stop caring for the party as a whole and care only for their particular narrow interests. And that lack of caring was created by conservative ideologues, even though those same ideologues cannot now control what they have created.

In our peculiar American democratic system, political parties should differentiate themselves from each other. But they should not become vessels for undiluted ideological brews. They should not be places where one ideological set of ideas completely dominates all others, nor should they be characterized by my-way-or-the-highway policy positions. And, more important, we should not expect them to be led by candidates with perfect ideological scores. If we want our democracy to flourish, our two dominant parties, given the size and diversity of this country, have to have some ideological flexibility built into them. They have to make room for those hugging the center as well as those closer to the edges. They have to make room for ideological imperfection, or else they will eventually self-destruct, if they first don’t destroy the tenuous unity of the United States.

Today we are watching many working class Republicans, and some working class Democrats, embrace with cultish enthusiasm an authoritarian businessman who could very well lead the Grand Old Party—and possibly the entire country—into a neo-fascist nightmare. And it is ideological dogmatism on both sides that, oddly, has made such a scenario possible. For years now, President Obama has been attacked, sometimes mercilessly, for many of his domestic and foreign policies. But those attacks have come not just from conservative ideologues, but also from left-wing political purists.  And now that Hillary Clinton, Obama’s natural heir, is dominating the Democratic Party’s nomination process, the ideological knives—again, on both sides—have really come out.

And it’s too bad Bernie Sanders, even with no hope of winning, is wielding one of them.

42 Comments

  1. King Beauregard

     /  March 16, 2016

    Bernie could have done himself a real favor years ago, if he’d attached himself to a “Get Out The Vote” campaign. He could have been the face of voting, and it wouldn’t be much of a jump from “hey kids, be sure to vote!” to “hey kids, be sure to vote … for ME!” The lesson is, you can’t take on one of the most visible political figures of the past 25 years if you’ve only started trying to make yourself a household name in the past few months.

    Then again, Bernie never wanted to be President of the United States. He wanted to be President of Single Payer maybe, but all that other icky stuff like foreign policy … no stomach for it. The Senate’s a better place for him to work on his hobbies, such as they are.

    Hillary may not be able to count on much campaign support from Bernie — I think we’ve talked about how little faith I have in his ability to get his droogs to vote for Hillary anyway — but Hillary will have Obama on her side, and thus far nobody’s been better at smacking Drumpf down than Obama. Goddamn does he ever make it look easy:

    Obama will drive Trump apoplectic and make even today’s Drumpfbaggers burn their “I’m with Trump” hats.

    We won’t even need the Bernie die-hards anyway; they’ve never bothered to help before, no sense counting on them now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think we do need the Bernie folks. But I think Obama will be able to bring them in, if Bernie doesn’t make much of an effort. I agree with you that Obama will be the one who will make Drumpf look like a fool. He is damned good at it and he is as free as a bird to take him on in ways only Obama can do.

      I’m just not convinced, yet, that Drumpf will win the nomination. His people (the few he has around him) appear to be somewhat ignorant of how the process works at the convention, and Cruz and Kasich have already been playing the numbers game behind the scenes. So, we’ll see. But it does look like it’s his to lose.

      Duane

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  2. A good tutorial, Duane. Thanks.

    Just to review:

    ideology n. (pl. ideologies) a system of ideas and ideals, especially one that forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy: the ideology of republicanism.
    • the ideas and manner of thinking characteristic of a group, social class, or individual: a critique of bourgeois ideology.

    Unlike a system in science, or even in logic, an ideology is a subjective thing and therefore imprecise by definition. Or at least it ought to be. Like philosophy. So it takes a lot of hubris to take a pure ideological stance, I think. Such is what happened in Russia in 1917.

    Bernie means well, but he is an ideologue, as you say, and that’s why I think he has little chance of becoming president. Even if he did gain office by some miracle, he would achieve nothing with a Congress fired by the opposite ideology.

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    • Very well said, Jim. Thank you.

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      • You’re basically saying that Clinton has no ideas and no manner of thinking and that’s why you support her, because she won’t be able to accomplish anything with a Republican congress anyway.

        If you want me to stop saying you’re pathetic, stop being pathetic.

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    • @Tige Gibson,

      You said,

      You’re basically saying that Clinton has no ideas and no manner of thinking and that’s why you support her, because she won’t be able to accomplish anything with a Republican congress anyway.

      I’m not sure if you were addressing me or Duane, but no matter. No, I’m not saying she has no ideas or manner of thinking. I don’t know where you’re getting that. What I want is an adult in charge of the Executive branch of government so we won’t have problems like the second Iraq war, or God forbid, a nuclear war. Or so we won’t have political extremists like Scalia nominated to the Supreme Court and giving corporations the rights of real people. I think leftward extremism would inspire fear and make the divide even worse. The goal is to try to all get along together.

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      • Let me get this straight, you want to prevent another war by choosing someone who blindly supported the wars we have already?

        Sanders isn’t actually a leftist extremist. If you make that claim you have no idea what an extreme left position looks like and while Republicans certainly don’t Democrats should at least know where their own borders are. He’s offering the economic framework that existed before the Republicans starting tearing it down 35 years ago, basically unwinding the damage done. This is necessary, but Clinton is not even suggestion anything of the sort.

        If Sanders starts talking seizing private assets, you might convince some people who know the dangers of extreme leftism. Increasing tax on the wealthy doesn’t count. Taxes on the wealthy are absurdly low by all historical measures and this is number one cause of the economic problems which exist.

        In reality a far left regime behaves almost identically to a far right regime by favoring a preferred elite, stifling free speech, and engaging in wars of aggression.

        What the average person really fears right now is that they’re going to be permanently underwater as wages sink below basic cost of living. If that happens, Clinton will be forced to take measures that Sanders actually wants to do because all evidence tells us this is what needs to be done. Clinton is not the adult in the room. Adults don’t wait for things to go terribly wrong before reluctantly dealing with them.

        Capitalism is failing right now by exactly the same mechanism that brought down communism.

        Liked by 1 person

        • @ Tige Gibson,

          I didn’t call Bernie an extremist, I said that about Scalia.

          Actually, I am sympathetic to Sanders’ views but the right does view them as extreme and that is why I think it’s impractical, even dangerous, to move too radically. Bottom line, culture rules politics. To think politics rules culture is backwards, but hopefully it can bend it in the right direction. Examples of presidents who understood this best include FDR, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. IMO.

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          • Christian conservatives manufactured an illusion that they represent the majority. This was always a lie, but lately reality has broken through the cracks. It’s actually taken us close to two decades to make those cracks. Pretending because you weren’t invoived that we are moving fast is just ignorant. No matter how slow you go, the people going backwards will never catch up. They’re really a minority and you have to decide that it’s not worth it for everyone to make such huge sacrifices as a token gesture to them, especially since they’ve been abusing and manipulating us for decades.

            It’s these cracks in the Republican party that make more left-leaning political views have seem to be viable, while they were always actually viable regardless of what people were made to believe. Most people don’t know innately who they should vote for which makes them susceptible to manipulation. Outright manipulation isn’t actually tolerable which is part of the reason why Republicans are floundering.

            People believe that their duty is to vote for the party they believe is going to win, no one wants to vote for the loser or they would stay home and fulfill that prophecy, and conservative influence over the media convinced them that what is viable is farther right than they really want.

            This would also be true in an imaginary world where extreme leftists were in power. In fact Republican identity is based on the delusion that the left controlled the media (until the ’80’s). The media can make people believe who is viable or electable which is very different from the reality.

            The words viable and electable simply mean that you think that person is going to win. The person who doesn’t win is an abortion regardless of how viable anyone thinks he or she is. This is also why it’s tough to beat incumbents even if they suck. Incumbents only lose when either they personally do something wrong or their party as a whole does something wrong, regardless of the qualifications or perfection of their opponent. This is why Republican incumbents in Congress are actually much more threatened than most pundits believe. The Republican party collectively is an abortion right now. Only people who oppose abortion support it.

            Also people are forgetting the times that Republican policy was based on. In fact those times are forgotten. If you are younger than 40 you have absolutely no idea what life was like before Reagan. I do.

            There’s something very interesting that happens each and every election, that many people aren’t sure who to vote for and so they think that it will be a disaster. Bush-Gore was the closest thing to a disaster election I’ve ever witnessed. The Supreme Court had to get involved and acted based on this fact that people need to have the feeling that the election was decided by the majority, but many people disagreed that the decision was correct. It has nothing to do with what the winner actually does afterward. For years people believed that Bush did not have a “mandate” which just means they think he didn’t really win.

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  3. This was a really poor meta-commentary on some ideology which you don’t seem to know anything about. During the ’90’s the “left” along with the Clinton’s drifted into center right as the Republicans moved far right. Objectively there was no ideology then, so it’s not surprising that Clinton isn’t ideological now, it was and is just about winning. As you’ve made clear to me before, you only care about winning in itself, not what you win. That is something that is truly pathetic and dismal when one wonders what the future would look like.

    Republicans are ideologues, and their ideology isn’t based on any reason or evidence, but the undefined ideology that you reject from Sanders is actually based on a lot of things we actually know. It’s isn’t some pie in the sky fantasy new age ideology. But you never mentioned anything about it because that would get in the way of your empty rant against having any ideas.

    Liked by 2 people

    • cbdoodle

       /  March 17, 2016

      Thank goodness, Tige. Great comment. Finally, someone following this blog has a sense of the importance and the plan of the dynamic and long term benefits of Bernie Sanders for the Progressive movement — and civilization at large. There is a crippling amount of DemoElite smugness here. I worry that those who think Bernie won’t support Hillary (should she get the nomination) in the GE are more likely the ones who will actually stay home in November should Bernie get the nod. Actually, no — I don’t worry about one not supporting the other come election day. Would Bernie settle for being an incrementalist if Hills is the nominee? Yes, but he won’t stop making the case that needs to be made. You think Hillary is bringing in new voters? She is NOT. Hillary would bring 8 more years of reality-Obama. Not the end of the world. Not transformative. Not much help for the middle class. Not much help for the poor. The Democratic party leadership continues to demonstrate is lack of vision and inability to inspire. If Drumph gets the GOP nomination, enough reason should prevail to keep blue states blue and grab more than enough purple states for Hillary to win — and maybe enough to take back the Senate. Bernie will deliver the House and the Senate. Neither will bring over the white-bigoted-voter repressed South. If Hillary loses to Bernie, she disappears. If Bernie loses to Hillary, he stays in the conversation and pushes forward.

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      • King Beauregard

         /  March 17, 2016

        “Bernie will deliver the House and the Senate.”

        If Bernie can’t even win the primaries, odds are he wouldn’t be capable of bringing about this revolution in voting that every generation of new voters assumes they are part of (and never are).

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        • I know of no one who thinks the House will change hands, even if Drumpf is the nominee. It would be impressive if Bernie could pull it off, but there is exactly no evidence at this point that he could. He gets credit from some people for bringing “new” voters into the process, but I have yet to see any real evidence to support that. Have you?

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          • Turning the congress would only be the result of Republican failure and they are in full failure mode now. If it did happen, some people would praise the Democratic candidate, but it would really be the Republicans fault more than anything.

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        • cbdoodle

           /  March 18, 2016

          King — Did you mean, if Bernie can’t win the deep south — who’s primary voters stay home in November?

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          • King Beauregard

             /  March 18, 2016

            Hillary isn’t winning in just the Deep South; that’s simply where Bernie’s most humiliating defeats have been. Hillary does fine in the North too; this past Tuesday involved 3 or 4 northern states and Hillary beat Bernie in all of them.

            Also, take a look at the Salon article I posted and the embedded video:

            http://www.salon.com/2016/03/18/watch_frustrated_bernie_sanders_walks_out_on_hostile_tv_news_interview/

            A reporter asks Bernie some mildly diffiicult questions and he stomps out of the interview like nobody has any business questioning his record. If that’s how Bernie handles a reporter, imagine how poorly he’ll handle Trump.

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            • The article surrounding the video doesn’t really bear out your interpretation. The interviewer is clearly hostile. What you should have really noticed is that he agreed to do that interview at all. Up until now candidates only talk to reporters that are sympathetic to them and throw them softball questions. It’s been a long time since a politician actually got grilled in an interview and not just downplayed for losing a primary in typical horse race fashion.

              The reporter was thinking before the interview that this guy is never going to be president so I have nothing at stake by pushing him. But most importantly, either he didn’t do his own homework on the question or he was deliberately using a prescribed Clinton attack against him. This is not a question that Drumpf or any other Republican would ask so it’s irrelevant to the general election.

              The funny thing about your comment is how you think that presidential candidates ask questions directly of one another or answer one another’s questions during a campaign. When has that ever happened?

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              • King Beauregard

                 /  March 19, 2016

                If Bernie is such a a straight-shooter, he should be more than willing to talk to even hostile reporters. That’s part of what it means to be a good guy: sometimes dishonest men will try to prey upon you and still you best them.

                Except that this isn’t even a dishonest man or a hostile reporter; he’s asking some questions about Bernie’s voting record and Bernie doesn’t like to be questioned by peasants. How would Obama answer these questions? He’d wait for the reporter to finish, smile a little, and then say, “Well, let me clear up what happened with that vote …”

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                • Many people falsely believe that everyone is entitled to and must be shown respect regardless of their own behavior. Showing respect to hostile people empowers them. You say Sanders thinks of this guy as a peasant, but that is inconsistent: attack dog would be more accurate. As was previously indicated, the questions being asked had already been cleared up and the only reason to ask it again is to favor a Clinton narrative, which again confirms this as an attack.

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      • I want to address three claims you made.

        1) “You think Hillary is bringing in new voters? She is NOT.” Okay. Fine. But where is the evidence that Bernie is bringing in “new” voters? Young people voting for Democrats is not new. Ask President Obama. Evidence of new voters, please.

        2) “Bernie will deliver the House and the Senate.” Please explain how he will deliver the House. I don’t know anyone who thinks that will happen, even if Drumpf is the GOP nominee. Bernie could help, though, if he would give up his quixotic campaign and start focusing on targeted House and Senate races, which would at least give us a chance to win the House. Odds of winning the Senate are already tilting toward us, with or without Bernie.

        3) Finally, you wrote:  “Hillary would bring 8 more years of reality-Obama. Not the end of the world. Not transformative. Not much help for the middle class. Not much help for the poor.” This is what you unrealistic leftists just don’t get. If a Republican wins the presidency, with a Republican Congress, you apparently have no conception of the harm that they will do to the middle class and the poor. Just look at Kansas. Or Louisiana. Or Michigan. Or Wisconsin. Or any number of other places where Republicans have complete control. Does that possibility mean nothing to you? It may be uncomfortable for you, but sometimes “helping” people means preventing other people from doing them even more harm than they are already experiencing.

        Liked by 1 person

        • >But where is the evidence that Bernie is bringing in “new” voters?

          This is irrelevant. The Republican party is broken and with that goes the solidity of the bloc voters.

          >I don’t know anyone who thinks that will happen, even if Drumpf is the GOP nominee.

          I wouldn’t believe anyone who told me they could predict the future. But you linked to Goldwater earlier and that guy, a Republican, single-handedly tore down a Republican congress. Drumpf is no Goldwater, he could do worse, much worse. At least Goldwater outright rejected support of the KKK.

          >Does that possibility mean nothing to you?

          You are terrified of a bleak future and that fear is overwhelming your sense. That fact is all the places you mentioned are as bad as they can get. We are the ones who get that. New York is never going to be Kansas, definitely not if Drumpf had anything to do with it. This is really as far as they can push it. Stop worrying!

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        • cbdoodle

           /  March 18, 2016

          Duane — I think this is too much for you. Never my intention. Seriously, if I want to read insights like yours and Jim’s and King’s, I can read the WaPo or WSJ. You guys sound like Third Way apologists. Disappointing. The Press and the Democratic leadership have rigged the game for Clinton. If Sanders wins the nomination, the GE will be a cake walk. If he runs against Trump he might even run the table. You may not agree with me, but don’t hyperventilate about it.

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          • Doodle,

            Hyperventilate? I don’t think so, but I can understand you thinking that way. I do get pretty passionate about the possibility of losing an election, especially when the tilt of the Court is definitely, not theoretically, in play. Sorry about coming across that way, but I’m breathing just fine.

            But your “cake walk” and “run the table” claims are just too much for me to ignore. Honestly, I just don’t understand where that comes from. No one is going to win in a cake walk or run the table. I find that, well, never mind. I’ll move on before I really do hyperventilate.

            You are assuming that Drumpf will be the nominee. I do not assume that at all. I know how slimy the Republican establishment is and what it is capable of engineering, both to get rid of Drumpf and to make a competitive race against Hillary, and especially Bernie, if it came to that. The only way your we-will-win-in-a-cake-walk scenario will happen is if true-blue conservatives really do mount a third-party challenge. Then you get the prize.

            But what I really want to point you to is an article that backs up my claims about my own union brothers and sisters: “Donald Trump’s Working-Class Appeal Is Starting To Freak Out Labor Unions.” You may think I don’t know what I’m talking about, which is fine, but how do you argue with professionals who have actually polled union members? Or how do you argue with union leaders who know what they are hearing? Look at what they are saying about Drumpf:

            “In terms of his message, it is really resonating. Particularly if you are talking [about] union people, he is speaking our language,” said Josh Goldstein, deputy national media director for the AFL-CIO. “We can’t let that go unattended, because people have been doing that with Trump for a long time, and his numbers have only gone up. … It is our job to go out and educate people now, so it doesn’t cross that threshold and become a threat.”

            And these are union members, not just regular working folks. These are people who get guidance and advice from their union about what is going on. All I am trying to say is that we can’t underestimate the power of demagoguery, especially when people can be micro-targeted in crucial areas of the country, where such targeting can change the outcome of an Electoral College election. Drumpf can change on a dime and make himself more palatable to people who are economically vulnerable and who happen to live in some important general election purplish states. Do I think that will happen? No, I don’t. But I can’t be sure it won’t. And, unlike you, I don’t want to take any chances.

            Duane

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            • King Beauregard

               /  March 18, 2016

              Hey Duane, check out how Sanders handled what may be his first encounter with questions about his voting record:

              http://www.salon.com/2016/03/18/watch_frustrated_bernie_sanders_walks_out_on_hostile_tv_news_interview/

              Oh yeah, this is a man who is prepared for the rigors of the Oval Office.

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              • I finally had time to sit down and watch that video. Now, imagine Hillary Clinton doing the same thing. Can’t? That’s right. No one has been asked tougher questions over the years than she has, as we both know. And there are more, and worse, to come. Bernie was doing fine until he turned the interviewer into a surrogate for Hillary Clinton. It got personal really quickly. And then the end was a sign of his increasingly unsteady temperament, which I have noticed has become more unsteady upon the realization that he isn’t going to win this race.

                I take you go back to that recent debate in which Hillary, unbelievably, was asked by Jorge Ramos whether she would quit if she were “indicted.” She handled it beautifully. Ramos has no knowledge whether there is even a grand jury impaneled to indict anyone in the case of her private server and email traffic. It was clearly a moment designed to enhance Ramos’ toughness against such a large public figure (especially after his earlier conflict with Drumpf), but it turned out not to be such a great moment for him.

                Liked by 1 person

                • King Beauregard

                   /  March 19, 2016

                  Wow, must be her time of the month, amirite???

                  Nahh, I jest — that was the Platonic ideal of the perfect response to a ridiculous gotcha question. And man do I love Hillary when she’s just talking off the cuff; I don’t feel like she rehearsed that answer, she just spoke her mind.

                  But had she responded with even a quarter of the surliness Bernie did in that interview, you know the misogyny would be flying hot and heavy.

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                • King Beauregard

                   /  March 20, 2016

                  “And then the end was a sign of his increasingly unsteady temperament, which I have noticed has become more unsteady upon the realization that he isn’t going to win this race.”

                  I’ve been thinking about this, and I wonder if it isn’t just about losing the race — is it about having to navigate choppy waters, period. For the longest time, Bernie’s campaign was the life Michael Scott dreamt of*, where everyone around him hung on his every word adoringly. With the exception of a couple unaccountably ill-mannered black women a couple times, Bernie was exactly where he wanted to be.

                  Then he started encountering the realities that are inherent to a presidential bid once things heat up — failing to win votes from demographics he’s traditionally ignored, having his voting record questioned, generally discovering that not everyone is in the tank for him. Gone are the days where he could dismissively accuse Obama of being “naive”, he’s learning firsthand that people don’t always just do what you want because you’re the hero of your own narrative. I don’t think he was prepared for it.

                  *: Young Michael Scott:

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                  • You are a lot harder on Bernie than I am. I try to resist making judgments about his inner thought life. But it is fair to make judgments about his actions, and he has been fairly ungracious through his many defeats this primary season, and he often acts as if he is winning the race, not a mile behind with a mile to go. As I have said before, I have watched Bernie on television for several years, especially before MSNBC booted off all of its liberal hosts (except for the three on at night). I used to like him a lot because he has a vision for America that I find mostly attractive in the abstract. But after he became a candidate, something about him seems to have changed. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I do think it has something to do with the rejection he is getting from a majority of Democrats. I think he bought into the notion that his views were much more widely prevalent than they actually are, and I think he failed to see that a rigid leftist ideology–especially expressed in revolutionary terms–was bound to make even some sympathetic Democrats a little nervous about his chances of beating even a Drumpf.

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                    • King Beauregard

                       /  March 21, 2016

                      If I’m hard on Bernie, it’s because I bear in mind he has been in Congress since 1991; he has been in DC longer than Hillary when you get right down to it. And still he seems to not grasp how Congress works, or the role of the President, or why the Democrats have had to compromise far more than they would like.

                      It would take a monumental effort for me to work at my job that long and still not understand how it works.

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                    • That last reason you gave, “why the Democrats have had to compromise far more than they would like,” is a trait he shares with too many people, particularly people who spend a lot of time writing and talking about politics on the left. If I had to pick out the single most frustrating thing about people who are supposed to be committed to a progressive vision of the future, it is a failure to understand basic facts about not only how our government works generally, but how it works with a hostile Republican Party that no longer believes in things the party believed in throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Johnson, the last Democrat who accomplished a lot of liberal stuff, had not only a huge majority of Democrats in Congress, but a huge number of Republicans who weren’t opposed to basic things like civil rights for all.

                      These things are not really that hard to understand. Our system is built to make it hard to do things without the other side’s consent. And we really haven’t had a Republican Party willing to compromise since Ronaldus Magnus turned the GOP into a party determined to ruin government.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • cbdoodle

                       /  March 22, 2016

                      Here’s a gaggle of points to consider from Campaign for America’s Future — probably too radical for the like of this blog:

                      “How the Democratic Party Establishment Suffocates Progressive Change
                      March 21, 2016

                      By Thomas Palley
                      The Democratic Party establishment has recently found itself discomforted by Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign to return the party to its modern roots of New Deal social democracy. The establishment’s response has included a complex coupling of elite media and elite economics opinion aimed at promoting an image of Sanders as an unelectable extremist with unrealistic economic policies.
                      The response provides a case study showing how the party suffocates progressive change. Every progressive knows about the opposition and tactics of the Republican Party. Less understood are the opposition and tactics of the Democratic Party establishment. Speaking metaphorically, that establishment is a far lesser evil, but it may also be a far greater obstacle to progressive change.
                      The elite media’s response was captured in a snapshot report by Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) showing that The Washington Post ran 16 major negative stories on Sanders in 16 hours, prior to the Michigan primary. The headlines were particularly hostile, and since only 40 percent of the public reads past the headline, that is as important as the substance of the story.
                      Economic policy has been the fulcrum of Sanders’ campaign, and the response of elite opinion has been exemplified by Paul Krugman of The New York Times.
                      For years, Krugman has mockingly used the term “very serious people” to attack Republicans opposed to President Obama’s policies. Now, he unironically revokes the credentials of all who do not support Clinton by declaring that “every serious progressive policy expert on either health care or financial reform who has weighed in on the primary seems to lean Hillary.”
                      Regarding Sanders’ opposition to neoliberal trade agreements, Krugman writes: “In this, as in many other things, Sanders currently benefits from the luxury of irresponsibility: he’s never been anywhere close to the levers of power, so he could take principled-sounding but arguably feckless stances in a way that Clinton couldn’t and can’t.”
                      The slamming of Sanders has also been joined by a gang of past Democratic appointee chairs of the Council of Economic Advisers. In an open letter co-addressed to Senator Sanders, Messrs. Kruger, Goolsbee, Romer and Tyson mauled a favorable empirical assessment of Sanders’ economic program conducted by Professor Gerald Friedman. Without any detailed independent assessment, they simply declared the assessment unsupported by the “economic evidence”.
                      Messrs. Kruger et al. were then joined by Justin Wolfers, via one of his regular New York Times opinion pieces. His accusation was that the beneficial effects of fiscal stimulus would disappear once full employment was reached and the stimulus withdrawn.
                      Wolfers is co-editor of the prestigious “Brookings Papers on Economic Activity.” Ironically, a recent issue contained a lead article by elite Democratic economists Larry Summers and Brad DeLong invoking a similar mechanism as Professor Friedman. Summers and DeLong argued a large negative temporary demand shock can permanently lower output: Friedman simply reversed that and argued a large positive temporary stimulus can permanently raise output and growth.
                      There is legitimate room for intellectual difference. What is so stunning is the tone of the critique and the fact it sought to diminish an important policy (fiscal stimulus) just because Sanders was using it to his political advantage.
                      Given their elite professional standing and easy access to elite media, these attacks quickly ramified throughout the mainstream media, illustrating how the elite-media/elite-opinion nexus works.
                      The slamming of Sanders reflects an enduring status quo defense mechanism which usually begins with insinuations of extremism, then mixes in charges of lack of qualification and realism, and ends with assertions of unelectability. It is applied in both political and public intellectual life.
                      The extremism gambit explains the persistent linking of Sanders and Trump. Whereas Trump is an egotistical demagogue and businessman with a disreputable business history, Sanders is a thoughtful social democrat with a long history of public service through high electoral office.
                      The unelectability charge pivots off the extremism insinuation as follows: Americans will not elect extremists; Sanders is an extremist; ergo, Sanders is unelectable.
                      As with the extremism insinuation, the unelectability charge lacks foundation. Polls show Sanders beating all the potential Republican nominees, and beating Trump handily.
                      The third charge is lack of qualification. The reality is Sanders has a 50-year history of political involvement, working his way through the political ranks serving people. He was mayor of Vermont’s largest city; then Vermont’s representative in Congress, where he co-founded the Congressional Progressive Caucus; and after that became a senator for Vermont. That seems to be exactly the career and CV a president should have.
                      Lastly, Sanders has been dismissed as selling unrealistic pipe dreams. Social Security would be a pipe dream if we did not already have it; so would Medicare and public education, too. There is a lesson in that. Pipe dreams are the stuff of change.
                      Rather than an excess of pipe dreams, our current dismal condition is the product of fear of dreaming. The Democratic Party establishment persistently strives to downsize economic and political expectations. Sanders aims to upsize them, which is why he has been viewed as such a threat.
                      November will be a time for Democratic voters to come together to stop whoever the Republicans nominate. In the meantime, there is a big lesson to be learned.
                      Today, the status quo defense mechanism has been used to tarnish Bernie Sanders: tomorrow it will, once again, be used to rule out progressive policy personnel and options.
                      Progressives must surface the obstruction posed by the Democratic Party establishment. Primaries are prime time to do that, which means there is good reason for Sanders’ campaign to continue.”

                      This is how me and my humans feel. I won’t bother you further.
                      Peace. Go Bernie, Go!

                      Liked by 1 person

                  • By the way, I can’t believe you could find that awesome The Office video to nicely illustrate your point! Well done.

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                • I honestly have a hard time seeing a difference between the Sanders video and the Clinton video other than the fact that Clinton doesn’t have the luxury of walking out of the debate.

                  Especially if you put the two videos side by side, the guy interviewing Sanders seems deliberately trying to mischaracterize what happened, while the guy asking Clinton is suggesting something that despite Clinton’s response is still a real possibility.

                  After decades of “journalists” pandering to politicians for access, it’s hard to take this kind of toughness seriously. They really shouldn’t be asking questions that someone can find the answers to on the internet.

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              • By the way, how do you carry on a conversation with someone who says, “Up until now candidates only talk to reporters that are sympathetic to them and throw them softball questions”? Jesus. Hillary Clinton has been grilled over and over and over again about the server and email issue, not to mention her decisions as Secretary of State, especially Benghazi. And besides “hostile” questions from reporters, she spent 11 hours before Congress just recently. Again, it’s not possible to argue with someone who has his or her own set of facts.

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                • King Beauregard

                   /  March 19, 2016

                  Remember when the Left prided itself on being factually accurate? Sure was easy back in 2004, when to be a member of the reality-based community, all you had to do was note that the Iraq War was based on lies and trickle-down doesn’t work as advertised. I think a lot of the Left got complacent and stupid at that point, secure in the belief that they could do no wrong.

                  As I like to say in some of my Internet arguings, “reality has a King Beauregard bias”. Mostly I say that to piss off fact-impaired Lefties. But the statement is itself a lie: reality has no bias towards me, rather it’s up to me to bias myself towards reality, even inconvenient truths (ESPECIALLY inconvenient truths). If I can’t do that, then I’ve got no business arguing about anything.

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                  • Are you agreeing with Duane that I’m mistaken?

                    The wars in the middle east have been going on for a decade and a half. At what point has a majority of Democrats ever actually tried to put a stop to it? I honestly thought Obama would maybe try. People always criticize me for saying that Obama is a disappointment.

                    Trickle down has been a solid paradigm since Reagan was president. It’s only a matter of faith that Clinton would do anything different than her husband. Obama hasn’t done anything about that either, and she hasn’t seemed to try to change his mind. If anything she has changed only because of Sanders putting her in check and so it begs the question what will she really do after she wins?

                    If Clinton ran unopposed, which she very nearly did, how would Duane’s insanity manifest itself? Who would he blame for his fear that Clinton might not be able to beat nobody?

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                • You’re trying to make it seem that I’m wrong in some way because Clinton, as the anointed most reviled Democrat, gets “grilled” by Congress and mostly indirectly by conservative pundits. Reporters that wish to have access to her likely future presidency will not grill her.

                  Many journalists seem to think that leaks happen often and that too much information is classified for no reason and that somehow these facts exonerate her (they don`t). These are the ones I’m talking about. The “real journalists”. The ones who don’t exist in your Clinton fantasy world.

                  She actually believes in her own personal power and status to the point that she can flout regulations. She runs her political office like a private business, a small one at that, such that she conveniently mixes personal and professional messages and relies on her personal judgment as to which is which.

                  Even if she actually did nothing “wrong”, it’s difficult to prove since evidence was destroyed (which always looks bad and is her own fault not those who “grill” her), but there’s a serious case of hubris here which her supporters like you are too quick to dismiss.

                  She clearly lied about it because she changed her story and admitted making mistakes. You have repeatedly mischaracterized her honesty and made accusations against me. I don’t have any stake in this and I’m not worried either way. I think there’s something wrong with you because you go to a lot of effort to avoid analyzing your own motivations for scapegoating Sanders and whitewashing Clinton.

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                  • After some rather unsupportable claims, you wrote,

                    I don’t have any stake in this and I’m not worried either way. I think there’s something wrong with you because you go to a lot of effort to avoid analyzing your own motivations for scapegoating Sanders and whitewashing Clinton.

                    Ignoring your clinical diagnosis of my mental state as applied to the Sanders-Clinton contest, I guess I would ask you one thing: Will you vote for Hillary Clinton in November, if she gets the nomination? Your answer will tell me a little something about your mental state, as applied to our political discussion.

                    Duane

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          • King Beauregard

             /  March 18, 2016

            This “third way apologist” will tell you basic truths that Bernie should have long ago — such as, if you don’t vote the Republicans out of Congress, Bernie’s agenda will be DOA. You need to start as soon as possible, ideally 2010.

            If Bernie were half the straight-shooter his fans think he is, he would have told you that long ago. The fact that he hasn’t, or at least he hates having to admit it, is proof positive he’s a demagogue.

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            • This is actually a criticism of his supporters not him. Many people are already aware that congress makes the legislation and the president only has limited powers. But like Duane you seem firmly convinced that Republicans can’t be usurped in spite of the fact that it has happened in recent memory and conditions in general favor it.

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              • King Beauregard

                 /  March 19, 2016

                Okay, please show me the arithmetic that demonstrates a 20% or greater chance of Democrats taking the House back. I’m not even asking you to justify “conditions in general favor it” — which is completely delusional — I’m asking you to show me a mere one-in-five chance.

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                • Let me finish my time machine first. There is no such thing as any arithmetic (arithmetic, seriously?) that can predict the future. But we do already know this election is going to be decided by the collapse of the Republican Party since that has effectively already happened and can’t be undone or recovered from in time.

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