Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Giving Sanders A Pass

"By the end," Ryan Lizza writes at Politico

it was clear that there was no Bernie slayer at the lecterns in Charleston, someone who alone had the time and skills to convince Democratic voters that the democratic socialist was a radical whose nomination would forfeit the party’s chance to defeat Trump.
Nor was there anyone with the desire to slay the front-runner.

Give the Democratic candidates their due. They probably figure Sanders is likely to be the nominee and viciously attacking him might help undo their chances of unseating President Trump in November and to hold onto the House of Representatives, the latter in doubt with the nomination of Sanders. And if one of them brings down Sanders, it might inure to the benefit of Michael Bloomberg- whose nomination would be dicey for another set of reasons.

Consider (times correlated with this transcript):

1) Pete Buttigieg, beginning at 3:37

We know what the President … what Russia wants, it’s chaos.

Once this campaign is over, Buttigieg will be found on the boardwalk either in Atlantic City, N.J. or at southern California beaches. Inasmuch as we don't know what the Kremlin is doing, how it is doing it, when it started, whether it is continuing or who the specific actor is, we don't know why Vladimir Putin prefers Bernard Sanders to all others as the Democratic nominee.  We do know, however, that Sanders has continually knocked USA foreign policy over the decades as one which excessively prefers regimes friendly to this country at the expense of other values. (See "Cuba, literacy.")  Therefore, assuming that Buttigieg really isn't a psychic, his remark may have reflected an unwillingness to confront Sanders here.

2) Elizabeth Warren beginning at 3:40

Look, the way I see this is that Bernie is winning right now because the Democratic Party is a progressive party and progressive ideas are popular ideas. Even if there are a lot of people on this stage who don’t want to say so. But Bernie and I agree on a lot of things, but I think I would make a better president than Bernie. And the reason for that is that getting a progressive agenda enacted is going to be really hard and it’s going to take someone who digs into the details to make it happen. Bernie and I both wanted to help reign in Wall Street. In 2008, we both got our chance, but I dug in, I fought the big banks, I built the coalitions and I won. Bernie and I both want to see universal healthcare, but Bernie’s plan doesn’t explain how to get there, doesn’t show how we’re going to get enough allies into it and doesn’t show enough about how we’re going to pay for it.

There could be no clearer endorsement of the candidacy of the Vermont senator than "Bernie is winning right now because the Democratic Party is a progressive party and progressive ideas are popular ideas. Even if there are a lot of people on this stage who don’t want to say so."  Moreover, while Warren's pitch all along should have been that she is "someone who digs into the details to make it happen," once she invoked this argument Wednesday night, it was not heard again. Repetition works- ask Sanders, who returns repeatedly to the same theme(s), whatever the question asked.

3)  Michael Bloomberg and Amy Klobuchar, beginning at 23:23 responding to Sanders first stating

Let me just, the answer is, it’s something that we would take into consideration. But here is the point. I am very proud of being Jewish. I actually lived in Israel for some months, but what I happen to believe is that right now, sadly, tragically, in Israel, through Bibi Netanyahu, you have a reactionary racist who is now running that country. And I happen to believe, I happen to believe, that what our foreign policy in the mid-east should be about is absolutely protecting the independence and security of Israel. But you cannot ignore the suffering of the Palestinian people. We have got to have a policy that reaches out to the Palestinians, and the Americans. And in answer to your question, that will come within the context of bringing nations together in the mid-east.

Michael Bloomberg:

Well, the battles been going on for a long time in the Middle East, whether it’s the Arabs versus the Persians, the Shias versus the Sunnis, the Jews in Israel and the Palestinians, it’s only gone on for 40 or 50 years. Number one, you can’t move the embassy back. We should not have done it without getting something from the Israeli government, but it was done, and you’re going to have to leave it there. Number two, only solution here is a two state solution. The Palestinians have to be accommodated. The real problem here is you have two groups of people, both of who think God them the same piece of land. And the answer is to obviously split it up, leave the Israeli borders where they are. Try to push them to pull back some of those extra, over on the other side of the wall where they’ve built these new communities, which they should not have done that. Pull it back-

Sanders has appeared at the convention of the largest Muslim political action committee in the nation and received its endorsement. He also has chatted on Fox News, allegedly because he believes a public official must communicate with those he disagrees with. Yet he has refused two years running to attend the convention of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee and now has labeled as "racist" the leader of one of the two most steadfast allies..

No one cares what Michael Bloomberg's policy is toward the Mideast any more than voters care about Warren's 78 plans for every problem besetting the USA. The front-runner just claimed to be proud that he is Jewish- and called the leader of probably one of the two most steadfast allies of the USA a "racist." In any other context than a Democratic presidential campaign, that is called a "gaffe."

Klobuchar was no better- and should have been. According to this report, the Minnesota senator "has a solid relationship with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the largest pro-Israel lobby in the country." The executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas has stated "she's ubiquitous in the Minnesota Jewish community." And last night, when Israel's Prime Minister was called a "racist," she was mum.

4) Joseph Biden, Amy Klobuchar, and Elizabeth Warren, beginning at 26:29 with Tom Steyer:

Excuse me, Amy. This conversation shows a huge risk for the Democratic Party. We are looking at a party that has decided that we’re either going to support someone who is a Democratic Socialist or somebody who has a long history of being a Republican. And let me say that I got into this race because I wanted to fight for economic justice, for racial justice, and to make sure we had climate justice for the American people. And I am scared. If we cannot pull this party together, if we go to one of those extremes, we take a terrible risk of reelecting Donald Trump.

Here, Tom Steyer condemns Sanders as a Democratic Socialist and Bloomberg for having "a long history of being a Republican."   To the credit of Steyer- whom yesterday I wouldn't give any credit to- he opened the floor for what should have been an obvious point. 

Three days before the debate, the front-runner lumped the "Republican establishment" in with the typically unspecified, largely neutered "Democratic establishment." He plans to take on the Democratic establishment this autumn and reportedly still has not registered as a Democrat. This does not bode well for a party which  would like to take over the Senate and at least hold on to the House of Representatives, But it did provide an opening, which Biden, Klobuchar, and Warren ignored.

Those are four instances in which Bernard Sanders' rivals, whose chances decline every day, failed for whatever reason to challenge the prohibitive favorite as they should have, and needed to have. And don't get me started on Castro's Cuba.

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