Tuesday, March 17, 2020

No Bern To Feel

The venue for the Democratic presidential debate of March 15, 2020 was switched from Arizona to Washington, D.C. because of the Caronavirus epidemic/pandemic. The campaign of former senator and vice-president Joe Biden was notified and he appeared. Sadly, that of Senator Bernard Sanders never was notified and he was evidently stuck in Arizona

That is an exaggeration but only barely so.  In an apparently unrelated tweet

Appearances are deceiving.  Before knocking (mainland) China, the NAFTA, and the TPP, the website feelthebern.org notes

Bernie Sanders believes that the top priority of any trade deal should be to help American workers. Unfortunately, as Bernie has warned year after year, American trade policy over the last 30 years has done just the opposite.  Multinational corporations – who have helped to write most of these trade deals – have benefited greatly while millions of American jobs have been shipped overseas.

Keeping Jobs in the U.S.: American trade policy should place the needs of American workers and small businesses first.

Nonetheless, in the midst of a crisis made worse because most face masks, ventilators, and other medical equipment (and prescription drugs) are made abroad, Senator Sanders - among all major current and future candidates most critical of free trade-  failed to mention the word "manufacturing" (or "manufacturers") even once. He did tell his opponent

I voted against the war in Iraq, which was also a tough vote. You voted for. I voted against disastrous trade agreements like NAFTA and PNT all with China, which costs this country over four million good paying jobs. You voted for it.

However, he instantly went to the Hyde Amendment.  Later, Sanders argued

But the issue is not just the war in Iraq. That was a long time ago. The issue is the trade agreement. What is it so easy for me to lead the effort against disastrous trade agreements?

Nonetheless, he immediately pivoted away, mentioning the bankruptcy bill, the Hyde Amendment, and the Defense of Marriage Act.

Sanders is right about Iraq and the bankruptcy bill Biden championed (and which Professor Elizabeth Warren unsuccessfully fought).  Further, he's right about reproductive freedom.

But the one candidate, Elizabeth Warren, who fully understands business law has dropped out- and evidently is attempting to convince Biden that he was wrong about the issue. Neither is Sanders the best vehicle to push abortion rights, nor was any candidate likely to peel away female voters from Biden in a campaign in which the name "Anita Hill" was never uttered.

The current uber-crisis reveals the folly of a trade policy which has driven manufacturers out of business or out of the country. This is understood by Sanders, a fair trade champion (video below from late November, 2016) in a party in which most politicians- including Joe Biden- have preached the glories of "fair trade" and globalism.  Yet on Monday, the Vermonter- who had been on message throughout the campaign- employed a scattershot approach, refusing to emphasize the issues he had focused on throughout.

For one of the few times this year or last, Bernie Sanders did not play to his strength. It did not go well.

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