Tuesday Reads: Bernie Sanders, DemagoguePosted: February 16, 2016
Once again, I had to give myself several pep talks before I could get started writing this post. The attacks on Hillary Clinton from all sides are getting louder and meaner, but the nastiest rat-fucking is coming from people who claim to be “progressives.” Republicans might as well just sit watch and watch, because Bernie Sanders and his supporters are doing their work with incredible zeal.
I wish the DNC had just let Bernie Sanders run a third party campaign. I really believe trying to hand the White House to Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. Maybe he thinks that would trigger his livelong fantasy of a “political revolution.”
I know you all have seen these quotes from Sanders and his attack dog Tad Devine in the NYT by now, but I’m going to post it here again because it is simply shocking and unprecedented for a Democrat to attack another Democratic candidate in this manner.
But Mr. Sanders said the idea that voters would see Mrs. Clinton as better suited to win in November and do battle with a petulant Republican Congress was “quite a stretch,” adding, “There are people supporting Secretary Clinton who will spin anything for any reason.”
His advisers used the vacancy to highlight Mr. Sanders’s promise to overhaul the campaign finance system. Both he and Mrs. Clinton have vowed to appoint only justices who would overturn the 2010 Citizens United ruling, which allowed for unlimited political contributions. But Tad Devine, a senior adviser to Mr. Sanders, pointed to Mrs. Clinton’s support from a “super PAC” and her acceptance of donations from Wall Street executives.
“She cannot be trusted to appoint someone to the Supreme Court who will take the issue of campaign finance seriously,” he said.
Nevada supporters of Hillary Clinton have reported on Twitter about numerous dirty tricks on the part of the Sanders campaign. Today, @stylistkavin who describes himself as a “Proud SuperVolunteer” for Hillary has been posting about some really slimy behavior by the Sanders campaign, if true.
Kavin said he listend to this call himself. He is also reporting that Sanders supporters are knocking on people’s doors late at night and pretending to be canvassing for Clinton. Voters in Nevada have received calls from the Sanders campaign saying that Hillary is under investigation by the FBI. Finally, I’ve heard that Sanders people are calling. Republicans and asking them to vote for Bernie.
Obviously none of this has been verified, and I don’t expect the mainstream media to investigate; but these reports definitely fit a pattern of dirty tricks on the part of the Sanders campaign going back to Iowa.
Democrats have two candidates. Assume for the sake of argument that they each have a 50% chance of winning the nomination. And assume the Democratic nominee will face someone like Donald Trump or Ted Cruz in the general election.
With so much on the line, why is one of them waging an all-out war on the other’s integrity?
Why on earth would Bernie Sanders run a campaign premised on the destruction of Hillary’s public image?
As we’ve written: Hillary let Bernie off the hook in the last debate. She could have asked him a simple question: Does he believe President Obama is corrupt because of financial industry contributions? It’s a yes or no question that is central to the 2016 race.
Does Bernie think President Obama is compromised by Wall Street contributions? If so, he should have the courage to say it. If not, he shouldn’t imply that a female candidate would be influenced by donations or speaking fees. There’s a word for that.
The endless drumbeat that Hillary is dishonest is now driven directly from the top of Bernie’s campaign. The candidate doesn’t say it in so many words, but the inference is crystal clear. It is an “artful smear” where any mention of the “establishment” or Wall Street is a Pavlovian trigger designed to impugn Hillary’s character. The Wall Street Dog Whistle.
No matter how lofty and inspiring Bernie’s message, no matter how much he motivates younger voters, it is deeply unjust – and frankly, reckless – to run a campaign premised on the destruction of Hillary’s character through false innuendo. And make no mistake, Bernie’s campaign message and the behavior of his supporters have become less about something and moreagainst someone. His path to victory runs right through Hillary’s integrity. It’s a deeply regrettable turn of events in an election where Bernie had initially vowed to stay positive and issue-driven.
Daou may be biased toward Hillary, but he speaks the truth.
We can only hope that voters in Nevada and South Carolina will see through Bernie’s smear campaign. I never thought 2016 could get worse than 2008, but it is much worse. I just hope Sanders and his progs don’t force a repeat of what happened in Florida in 2000. The only difference between Sander and Ralph Nader at this point is that Sanders has access to DNC voter data.
There are a few journalists questioning the Sanders campaign’s tactics, but I don’t know if that will filter down to voters who get most of their information from TV and newspapers.
Against the tightening race in Nevada, the Sanders campaign is still trying to catch up organizationally — and the battle for every Latino and union voter has become critical. At a union rally outside Palace Station Hotel on Friday, staffers for both campaigns were handing out leaflets. Some Hispanics approached by the Sanders campaign could be heard saying, “Si ya estoy con el,” or “Yes, I’m already with him.” Others, mainly Latinas, said they’re with “La Hillary.”
Behind the scenes, the Sanders campaign has angered people inside the Culinary Union — in instances both reported and previously unreported. The campaign has also unleashed demolition derby tactics on the DREAMers who have endorsed Hillary Clinton. Both have given the battle for Nevada a harder edge, and made activists, members of the union, and supporters of both candidates question the Sanders campaign’s tactics in the key state.
There have been concerns that the campaign has at times not used union labor. There was the time Sanders was set to stay at a non-union hotel, a big no-no among people close to labor groups, and Yvanna Cancela, the union’s political director called the campaign with a list of hotels he could stay at instead. Sanders never stayed at the non-union hotel. (“I would have done that for any campaign as a courtesy,” Cancela said, when asked to confirm it happened.)
There was the time — last week — when a reporter called Culinary officials to ask: Was it true that Bernie Sanders had personally convinced the powerful Nevada union to stay out of the race and not endorse Clinton, in effect helping him? The union official, according to someone with knowledge of the conversation, said no and asked where the reporter had gotten that information. It came from the Sanders campaign, the reporter said.
In the most publicized instance, in late January, two Sanders staffers wore Culinary Union pins to gain access to employee-only areas in four hotels in an effort to persuade union members to support Sanders. The union was “disappointed and offended,” leader Geo Arguello-Kline said at the time.
Read more at the link about Sanders’ attacks on DREAMers.
From Salon, a mild but interesting pro-Bernie critique: The Sanders campaign is flirting with danger: The two big warning signs coming out of last week’s debate.
It would be extremely premature to say that the media’s begun to turn against Sen. Bernie Sanders. But coming out of Thursday’s Democratic debate, there were signs that, on both the superficial and the substantive level, the media’s treatment of the Sanders campaign is about to lose some of its (relatively) soft touch….
During one of the few tense moments of PBS’s generally “chill” debate, Sanders, responding to Clinton’s explanation of how she will use her “political capital” once she is “in the White House,” sniped, “Secretary Clinton, you’re not in the White House yet.” The remark inspired some audible expressions of displeasure from the audience, and reminded some media observers of Obama’s “likable enough” moment in 2008….
Sanders has profited from the media’s lack of interest in challenging his self-presentation as a kind of non-politician. He’s similarly benefitted from his mostly-unchallenged self-presentation as a kind of happy warrior — angry and loud, yes, but in a lovably earnest kind of way. The Clinton campaign has desperately tried to get the media to challenge this image. Sanders has to be careful not to do it for them.That brings us to the more substantive criticism that’s dogged Sanders in the past few days; and it’s one, I’d argue, that is more likely to resonate if the campaign press is already becoming less sympathetic toward Sanders on a personal level. It had to do with one of Sanders’ signature big, bold promises — namely, that he’d all but end mass incarceration before wrapping up his first term….As Mark Kleiman, Leon Neyfakh, John Pfaff, Chris Hayes, Tim Murphy and German Lopez all noted, this is not simply a very ambitious goal. It is absurd, outlandish, ridiculous, disconnected — you name it. And not for the usual reasons that people say such things about Sanders’ promises, either. Not because it’s hard to imagine, but because it is impossible, full stop.
I believe that we have got to pass comprehensive immigration reform, something that I strongly supported. I believe that we have got to move toward a path toward citizenship. I agree with President Obama who used executive orders to protect families because the Congress, the House was unable or refused to act. And in fact I would go further….
“Somebody who is very fond of the president, agrees with him most of the time, I disagree with his recent deportation policies. And I would not support those. Bottom line is a path towards citizenship for 11 million undocumented people, if Congress doesn’t do the right thing, we use the executive orders of the president.”
This seems to come close to a promise to use executive action to defer the deportation of all of the undocumented immigrants who would be legalized under the legislative proposals Democrats have championed. (The Senate comprehensive immigration bill aspires to place 11 million on a path to legalization, but in practice would lead to legalization for closer to nine million people, by some estimates.) And indeed, this is what immigration advocates think they heard Sanders say last night….
In saying this, Sanders confirms that he believes the president has significantly more executive authority to grant deportation relief than President Obama believes he has. Obama’s most recent executive action — which is being legally challenged by two dozen states and will come before the Supreme Court this spring — seeks to defer the deportations of some five million people who are the parents of children who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. But the administration deliberately excluded parents of DREAMers — people who were brought here illegally as children — because administration lawyers thought going that far would be legally questionable.
It seems clear to me at this point that Bernie Sanders is every bit as much of a demagogue as Trump or Cruz. He is making promises he can never fulfill; should be get the Democratic nomination, he may end up breaking the hearts of his young followers and driving them away from politics altogether.
I’ll share more links in the comment thread. What stories are you following today?