I’m sustaining yesterday’s theme – Bernie Sanders’ sore-loser decision to wreak havoc on Hillary Clinton and thus serve as a useful idiot for Donald Trump – because today we have pathetic new developments.
Check this out:
Defiant and determined to transform the Democratic Party, (Sanders) is opening a two-month phase of his presidential campaign aimed at inflicting a heavy blow on Hillary Clnton in California and amassing enough leverage to advance his agenda at the convention in July – or even wrest the nomination from her….
Tad Devine, a senior adviser to Mr. Sanders, said the campaign did not think its attacks would help Mr. Trump in the long run, but added that the senator’s team was “not thinking about” the possibility that they could help derail Mrs. Clinton from becoming the first woman elected president. “The only thing that matters is what happens between now and June 14,” Mr. Devine said, referring to the final Democratic primary, in the District of Columbia. “We have to put the blinders on…”
Bingo! There it is, the Team Bernie mentality in a nutshell: They’re putting the blinders on. It’s the best way to stop reality from leaching into their line of vision. And here’s Bernie himself, donning the blinders and wallowing in fantasy:
Mr. Sanders, his advisers said, has been buoyed by a stream of polls showing him beating Mr. Trump by larger margins than Mrs. Clinton in some battleground states…
This has become a core Bernie Bros catechism, the citation of polls that show him doing better than Hillary against Trump. These people, goaded by Bernie, are either woefully naive, or simply clueless about the ephemerality of polls six months before an election. Just as Michael Dukakis, who led George H. W. Bush by double digits six months before the 1988 election. But since Bernie Bros tend not to be scholars of recent political history, let’s hew to a contemporary context:
Hillary has been battered by the Republican slime machine for the past quarter century. Bernie, on the other hand, has barely been touched – because Republicans (and, now, Trump) are thrilled that he’s sowing Democratic divisiveness. They haven’t spent a dime on ads attacking Bernie. They don’t want to bust him for anything, not when he’s sliming Hillary (she’s “not qualified”), saying poisonous stuff that they plan to quote this fall.
But if Bernie were to somehow win the nomination (a scenario that’s real only in Bernie’s dreams), rest assured that the Republican/Trump barrage would commence. Bye bye, bullish poll numbers.
They’d red-bait Bernie as a commie. They’d go viral with the newspaper column that he wrote back in 1976, when he declared that the “U.S. Congress must institute public ownership, with worker control, of the major means of production.” They’d mass-market the remark he made as mayor of Burlington, in 1988, when he yearned for a society “where human beings can own the means of production and work together rather than having to work as semi-slaves.” They’d recycle, and hyperbolically augment, Anderson Cooper’s remark, in an early Democratic debate, that Bernie and Jane “honeymooned in the Soviet Union.” (They did indeed, as part of a sister cities program. Trump would omit that nuance.)
They’d also assail Bernie’s government health care fantasy, and quote the left-leaning studies which have concluded that his numbers don’t add up. One progressive economic expert dismissed Bernie’s health plan as “puppies and rainbows,” a perfect soundbite for a 30-second ad. They’ll do the same for his free college fantasy. And speaking of college, they’d go after Jane Sanders, whose fiscal recklessness as president of Burlington College was apparently so egregious that the school announced this month that it’s shutting down for good. (The national press has underplayed that story. If Bernie were to get the nomination, you’d hear a lot more about it.)
That’s just a taste of what he’d face. Those happy poll numbers that Bernie and the Bros currently cite would sag in a heartbeat. As the liberal columnist Michael Tomasky says today, “What’s at issue here is the people who won’t accept reality, and in particular the Pied Piper who’s blowing on the flute and waltzing them off the pier. He is becoming a sputtering joke, a man who lost 58-42 (Hillary’s winning percentage spread) and thought – really, truly thought, deep down in his kishkes – that it was stolen from him.”
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said yesterday, “Bernie and I have known each other for a long time, and I believe he is better than this.” It’s time for him to prove it.
It’s time for reality, and a recognition of the stakes. Robert Reich, the liberal activist and fervent Bernie supporter, offers sage advice today on Facebook. His message to the Bernie Bros: “Don’t demonize or denigrate Hillary Clinton. If she wins the Democratic nomination, I urge you to work like hell for her. She’ll be the only person standing between Donald Trump and the presidency of the United States.”
In short, take the blinders off.