Bernie Sanders is playing a game. And it is a very dangerous game.
Appearing today on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” just after yet another weird Trump press conference from Scotland, Sanders said he would vote for Hillary Clinton because “the issue right here is I’m going to do everything I can to defeat Donald Trump.” There was no Hillary endorsement, just a knock against Trump, whom Sanders rightly called a “pathological liar.” That was about as much as a positive response as Democrats could expect from him, I admit, but—and there is always a but with Bernie—he wasn’t ready to stop his fight over the Democratic party platform and remaking the party in his ideological image. And he said Hillary Clinton had not yet come far enough his way.
In other words, Bernie is tempting fate. When asked if he might want to think of withdrawing from the race, now that everyone but Bernie Bros knows it is over, Bernie said,
Why would I want to do that when I want to fight to make sure that we have the best platform that we possibly can, that we win the most delegates that we can?
He still wants to win delegates? Now why would he want to keep going after more delegates? Power? Is the man playing this game so he can have as much power as possible? Is his ongoing struggle over the soul of the Democratic Party, a party he obviously doesn’t like, worth risking a Trump presidency? I get the impression, from listening to him, that he thinks it is. In fact, and I hate to say this, but I get the impression that what he named this morning as the quite quixotic “goal” of his campaign—“to transform this nation”—is more important than actually electing a Democrat this fall.
Maybe it’s just me, but this man appears to be a disturbing cross between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump: an uncompromising ideologue mixed with an ego much bigger than his delegate count.
Bernie was asked if he was concerned that only about 55% of his voters, according to some polls, were going to vote for Clinton. He wasn’t too worried about it. When asked about disunity in the party, he said,
You talk about disunity, I talk about people in the political process and wanting to have a government and party that represents all of us.
You see? Unity schmunity. Who cares about unity in the party when the party needs to be rebuilt from the ground up? Who cares about unity in the party when Bernie isn’t done having his way with it? Who cares about unity when Bernie still has all those damn delegates!
He was asked what to do about American companies that, say, move to Mexico. He gave the exact same answer Trump has given many times: slap tariffs on them—even though the president can’t do that. When he was told that he sounded just like Trump on that issue he said,
Yeah. So what? Who cares if Bernie sounds like Donald Trump? Who cares if significant numbers of his voters say they will actually vote for Trump or “anybody but Hillary”? Who cares if Trump is president?
If Bernie cares all that much, he has a funny way of showing it. Appearing a little later on “CBS This Morning,” he was reminded he had yet to endorse Clinton and was asked why he hasn’t done so. He said,
Because I haven’t heard her say the things that I think need to be said.
There you have it. His endorsement is, apparently, contingent on her yielding to his demands. He said he hopes that happens before the convention. But it may not happen before then, he added. They’re in negotiations right now—weeks after the last vote was cast. It took Mrs. Clinton only four days to suspend her campaign and endorse Barack Obama, after it was clear she couldn’t win the nomination in 2008. Yesterday evening I received an email from Bernie that ended with this:
Hard to miss that “CONTRIBUTE” button.
Mind you, Bernie’s not doing this for himself. Oh, far from it. He’s not in it for himself, just as Donald Trump says he’s not in it for himself. Bernie, like Trump, says he is in it for the folks. He’s just raising money and keeping this going for, as he said in his email, “the 12 million Americans who voted for a political revolution.” Never mind that almost 16 million Americans didn’t vote for a Bernie-led political revolution during the Democratic primaries and caucuses. Bernie told CBS’s Charlie Rose this morning:
Look, it’s not just me. Charlie, what this campaign has been about is people wanting to transform America.
Transform America? Yes. That could happen for sure. If Mrs. Clinton doesn’t say what Bernie wants her to say, if the Democratic Party doesn’t bend to the will of Bernie Sanders, there may very well be a new America.
And it will have TRUMP stamped all over it.