I will say this about Bernie. At least he’s consistent. When he wins he shows little grace toward his same-party opponent. And when he loses he shows little grace toward his same-party opponent. He may not know a lot about delegate math, he may not know how he is going to break up the big banks, he may not know what he will do with ISIS prisoners, but he is an expert on gracelessness.
In any case, last night in my inbox I found a message from Bernie with this subject line:
WE JUST WON WISCONSIN!
Here is the body of the email:
I want to note a few things about Bernie’s message to me and millions of others on his list. He, once again, mentioned “political revolution.” His Wisconsin victory is, allegedly, another step in that direction. Some step. His impressive victory last night, by more than 13 points, may have resulted in him winning only a handful of delegates more than she won, possibly as few as three more. Hard to see that as revolutionary. But then I’m not a True Believer in the Cause.
And then Bernie mentioned “momentum.” He spent a lot of time talking about that last night, while he wasn’t talking about a “nervous” Hillary. His campaign has made a big deal out of winning something like 7 of the last 8 elections. Well, let’s think about that. In a football game, there are two halves. If you outscore your opponent in the first half by 50 points but get outscored by 20 points in the second half, guess what? Your opponent can claim second-half momentum, but you still win by 30 points. Momentum-schomentum. It’s math, people. This primary race is about accumulating delegates over time, not how many states Bernie may have won lately.
And speaking of winning races lately, as Dan Pfeiffer, who was the communications director for Obama’s 2008 campaign, pointed out on Twitter, “it is shocking how little the political class remembers what happened.” He was talking about people like Matthew Dowd, a former Bushie who now is an analyst for ABC News, who had tweeted, “Unprecedented losses by the leading candidates this late in the process.” Pfeiffer set him straight: Obama “lost 6 of the last 9 and some by very large margins.” So much for unprecedented losses.
The truth is, as CNN pointed out this morning, Hillary Clinton needs to win only 36% of the remaining delegates and Bernie needs to win 77%. Reality, though, does not discourage Bernie: “If we can keep this up,” he writes, “we can win this nomination.” Up until lately, it has seemed impolite to ask how that is possible, but some media folks are now asking. And the latest theory from the campaign, expressed by his campaign manager on CNN and by Bernie himself last night, is to have an “open convention,” which the campaign is sure is going to happen. That means Bernie, who will not win the popular vote in the Democratic primary season or a majority of the delegates, will have to rely on superdelegates—the same anti-democratic “establishment elites” that his campaign initially abhorred. My how things change when you’re desperate—or intoxicated by your own revolutionary rhetoric.
All of which leads me to what Hillary Clinton, who has grown tired of her integrity being attacked by someone who is supposed to be in her own party, said to Politico’s Glenn Thrush (“Hillary Clinton has had enough of Bernie Sanders“). Thrush wrote today:
...within two minutes of sitting in front of the microphone, Clinton’s icy reserve began to melt, especially when I brought up the issue of Sanders’ fealty (or lack thereof) to the Democratic Party establishment Clinton proudly champions against the anti-establishment tide.
Sanders had just told an interviewer that he was iffy about raising money for down-ballot Democrats, so I asked Clinton the obvious question: Did she think Sanders is a real Democrat?
“Well, I can’t answer that,” she said with a smile. Then she proceeded to answer the question. “He’s a relatively new Democrat, and, in fact, I’m not even sure he is one. He’s running as one. So I don’t know quite how to characterize him.”
I’m convinced if she had made this argument early on, the Bernie phenomenon might look very different today. He would have been forced to explain why he was, after years of denigrating the party, cynically using it as a vehicle for his presidential ambitions. And it would have put him on the defensive about his own integrity—as an authentic Democrat—and mitigated his attacks on her trustworthiness and his innuendos of corruption. Better late than never, I suppose, but it would have helped if this line of attack had come much sooner.
Thrush also brought out something else that Clinton has lately begun to articulate about Sanders. He writes:
Still, it is Sanders who poses the most immediate threat. He was was running hard — and hitting her hard — in New York, and she was clearly frustrated with his easy appeal to voters under 35. She even suggested for the first time (in public, anyway) that the septuagenarian from Vermont was feeding a simplistic, cynical line of argument to turn young voters against her.
“There is a persistent, organized effort to misrepresent my record, and I don’t appreciate that, and I feel sorry for a lot of the young people who are fed this list of misrepresentations,” Clinton said, a few minutes after talking herself hoarse at a rally here. “I know that Senator Sanders spends a lot of time attacking my husband, attacking President Obama. I rarely hear him say anything negative about George W. Bush, who I think wrecked our economy.”
How true that is. I have listened to many of Sanders’ speeches. I have listened to many of his surrogates on television. I have read many articles written by Bernie supporters. And you know what? You get the impression that Hillary Clinton and her husband Bill and Barack Obama and the Democratic Party “establishment” is the real enemy. Those Bush-Cheney folks, who helped wreck not only our economy but the Middle East, barely rate a mention. It’s as if they were bit players in an anti-populist con job that was really pulled off by corrupt Democrats and the rich donors who have bought them for a price.
Look again at the email above. Bernie says:
Wyoming caucuses in just four days and New York votes two weeks from today, and you can bet the financial elite of this country won’t give up without a fight.They’re going to throw everything they can at us. But if we stand together, we’re going to keep winning.
He’s not talking about the “financial elite” of the Republican Party. They aren’t spending a dime against him. They want him to win. They are spending their money against Hillary Clinton. Thus, Bernie is really talking about the financial elite of the Democratic Party. Amazingly, he is actually running against his own party!
Now, if a man who says he is now a Democrat wants a “political revolution,” running against the Democratic Party—the only political force that has been able to rectify some of the damage done by Republicans—is certainly an odd way to make that happen.
But as we shall see in a later post, that’s not the only thing odd about Bernie.