Bernie throws over the board

Sadly, the more I get to know Bernie, the less I like him.  Sure, I appreciate how he has made some important contributions to how we should be thinking about progressive politics in this country, but, damn, if he isn’t an increasingly cranky, nearly delusional, old man.  His response to Clinton truly clinching the nomination takes the cake:

In a speech of striking stubbornness, he ignored the history-making achievement of his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, who became the first woman in American history to clinch the presidential nomination of a major political party.

Mr. Sanders waited until 15 minutes into his speech to utter Mrs. Clinton’s name. He referred, almost in passing, to a telephone conversation in which he had congratulated her on her victories. At that, the crowd of more than 3,000 inside an aging airport hangar booed loudly. Mr. Sanders did little to discourage them.

Tuesday was, undeniably, Mrs. Clinton’s night, a milestone for women in politics and civic life 95 years after the 19th Amendment guaranteed their right to vote.

But by Wednesday morning, all eyes were on Mr. Sanders. Would he be generous or petulant? Would he let go or keep battling?

At almost every turn, he was grudging toward Mrs. Clinton, passing up a chance to issue the kind of lengthy salute that many, in and out of the Democratic Party, had expected and craved.

“It’s a blown opportunity to build bridges that are going to be extremely important in the fall,” said David Gergen, an adviser to four presidents, both Democratic and Republican. He worried that Mr. Sanders was becoming “a grumpy old man.”

The raw math is brutal and indisputable: Mrs. Clinton has not just crossed the threshold of 2,383 delegates needed to secure the nomination. As of Tuesday night, she had succeeded in winning a majority of pledged delegates, a majority of the states that have held primaries, and the popular vote.

This would be the time, under normal circumstances, for a primary rival to acknowledge insurmountable odds, salute a prevailing opponent and begin the work of stitching together a divided political party…

Far from backing down, Mr. Sanders promised to take his campaign to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia this summer, raising the possibility that he could remain in the race, without ever conceding defeat, until July.

“We will continue to fight for every vote and every delegate we can get,” Mr. Sanders thundered.

To take Drum’s succinct summary:

Hillary Clinton won a majority of the pledged delegates, a majority of the superdelegates, and a majority of the popular vote. If you can’t stand her regardless, that’s fine, but a clear majority of Democrats preferred her to Bernie Sanders. Nothing rigged, nothing corrupt, nothing unfair. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.

Meanwhile, even some top Bernie aids have had enough. Via Ezra:

Over at Politico, Edward-Isaac Dovere and Gabriel Debenedetti have a dishy look inside the last days of the Bernie Sanders campaign. You should read it in full (seriously, go do that right now). The main takeaway is that Sanders’s aides know they’ve lost; the candidate doesn’t…

The characterizations of Sanders’s state of mind aren’t particularly flattering either. Aides portray him as angry, hurt, and actively deluding himself about both the reasons he’s losing and the possibility he may still win…

It’s worth being sympathetic here. No campaign looks good in its dying days, and the end of a long, exhausting primary will leave any candidate angry, emotional, and focused on slights and thin reeds of hope. My guess is the Sanders who ultimately ends this campaign will prove much more circumspect than the Sanders who appears in this article.

Even so, the Sanders who appears in this article seems to be unnerving even his top aides, and any campaign that leaked this much to Politico is not in a functional place.

I’ll give Bernie some time to cool down and think better of his approach, but at the moment he strikes me as not at all unlike a young child, who upon just learning they have lost a board game has decided the appropriate response is to take the board and throw it over, scattering pieces everywhere.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

2 Responses to Bernie throws over the board

  1. J. Palmer says:

    As someone who voted for Sanders in March, it has been tough to support him over the past few weeks. However, he was told by many that his campaign was a lost cause the day he started it. He did not believe it then, and now he is hearing the exact same message and he continues not to believe it. The guy is nothing if not consistent–his politics, personality, and haircut haven’t substantially changed in 30+ years. I doubt that the radicalism and defiance that have characterized Sanders for so long are likely to go gently into the good night…even though it is time to gracefully step aside.

    It’s worth remembering too, that as an independent who chose to run as a Democrat, Sanders is not the typical primary contest loser, and therefore far less beholden to traditional political protocol.

  2. R. Jenrette says:

    Bernie is hoping that some bolt from the blue will strike to destroy Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.and that he will be right there to take over. But even if such a thing happened, I think Joe Biden would be drafted to run. He’s no grumpy old man.
    The Republicans hope James Comey might be that strike and talk about the emails. Maybe Bernie does too even tho he brushed them off earlier. He is desperate now.

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