mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“The Last Berniebro?”: Sanders Runs The Risk Of Waiting Too Long, To The Point Where It No Longer Matters

“I’ve got this thing,” said the politician on a secretly recorded phone call, “and it’s f-ing golden. And I’m just not giving it up for f-ing nothing.”

That politician, as you probably remember, was Rod Blagojevich, then the the governor of Illinois, and the thing in question was the appointment to temporarily fill the Senate seat of Barack Obama, who was headed to the White House. But Blagojevich’s colorful sentiment could apply equally well to the way Bernie Sanders seems to think about his endorsement in this year’s presidential race. It’s golden, a precious jewel he has secured in a safe whose lock can only be sprung by one who has shown herself to be pure of heart, or at least one who has paid sufficient attention to Sanders and performed the proper rituals of supplication. Then and only then will the endorsement be presented, perhaps on a velvet pillow of deepest blue, with gold piping around the edges, all nestled in a handcrafted mahogany box. He’s not giving it up for nothing.

But what Sanders may not realize is that by the time he’s finally ready to hand over that endorsement, very few people are likely to care. He surely calculated that he would lose something if he endorsed Hillary Clinton too quickly, without getting something in return. But now he runs the risk of waiting too long, to the point where it no longer matters.

Appearing Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, Sanders waved away the idea that he was ready to endorse Clinton. And as for his supporters, “What we are doing is trying to say to the Clinton campaign, stand up, be bolder than you have been. And then many of those voters in fact may come on board.”

It’s unsurprising that there are holdouts among Sanders’s supporters, even as Donald Trump’s unique brand of horrifying buffoonery makes the stakes of the election clearer with each passing day. For a year now, they’ve been told not that their candidate is the best of a collection of reasonable options, but that they’re part of a revolution against a deeply corrupt establishment, embodied in the person of Hillary Clinton. To now ask them to make a pragmatic choice in favor of Clinton almost seems like a betrayal of everything they signed up for, no matter how ghastly the alternative to a Clinton victory is.

Yet that’s exactly the choice they’re making—and with little help from Sanders himself. In a new Washington Post poll, the number of Sanders supporters saying they’ll vote for Trump in the general election is at 8 percent, down from 20 percent just a month ago. “What’s more, the 81 percent of Sanders backers who are now behind Clinton is a higher number than in any poll of 2008 Clinton backers who rallied to Obama,” the Post writes.

This poll could be an anomaly; maybe it’s understating the degree to which Sanders supporters are going to withhold their support from Clinton. But on the other hand, maybe Sanders supporters as a group aren’t quite the doctrinaire revolutionaries we thought they were. Could it be that the passionate intensity (and, sometimes, outright douchebaggery) of a small number of Berniebros who make so much noise in social media convinced us that they were representative of Sanders supporters when they actually weren’t? Might it be that your typical Sanders supporter is a liberal Democrat who was attracted to Sanders’ ideas, but is also perfectly willing to vote for Clinton even if she wasn’t their first choice?

And might it be that it doesn’t really matter to them whether and when Bernie Sanders says the words “I endorse Hillary Clinton”?

One of the things Sanders had been holding out for was the writing of the Democratic Party platform, which he hoped would represent his views. The platform committee has finished working on the draft of the platform, and it looks to be the most progressive one the party has ever written, including calling for a repeal of the Hyde Amendment forbidding federal funds from going to abortions, a $15 an hour minimum wage, an expansion of Social Security, and the elimination of the death penalty. But because Sanders didn’t get absolutely every last thing he wanted (it’s almost as if somebody else won the party’s primaries!), he now cites the platform as another reason he can’t yet give Clinton his endorsement.

Not that too many people will actually read it (or that Clinton, if she becomes president, will be bound by it one way or the other), but I’m pretty sure that if most Sanders voters looked at the platform, they’d say, “Gee, that all sounds pretty good.” Nevertheless, there will be that vocal few who say it’s yet more evidence that anyone who supports Clinton is a Wall Street stooge. Liberal hero Elizabeth Warren got that reaction from an angry few when she endorsed Clinton, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Sanders himself, whenever he finally does make his endorsement, will hear that he has sold out his own revolution.

But how many Sanders supporters are there who won’t decide to vote for Clinton until Bernie says it’s OK to do so? The number gets smaller every day. And if he waits long enough, he could find that almost none of them are still waiting with him.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect, June 27, 2016

June 30, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Bros, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Pitfalls Of Self-Righteousness”: The Sanders Campaign Needs More Self-Reflection And Less Self-Righteousness

Brooklyn was home to the debate heard ’round the world on Thursday evening, as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders finally clashed on stage after weeks of increasing hostilities.

The tension was as thick as the candidates’ voices were loud. But while both presidential contenders were fiery, Sanders came off looking particularly irascible. Rather than seizing the opportunity to atone for his campaign’s recent bout of unforced errors, his performance gave weight to the concern Paul Krugman articulated last week: “Bernie is becoming a Bernie Bro.”

During the debate, Sanders repeatedly interrupted Clinton, at one point even throwing out a long “excuuuuse me” while wagging his finger. When not interrupting, he often smirked and made faces while Clinton spoke, at one point appearing to mumble a sarcastic “OK.” He laughed out loud as she prepared to answer a question on gun control legislation after Sandy Hook.

In sum, Bernie’s performance oozed acrimony and self-righteousness – the same pitfalls behind his campaign’s controversial blunders of late.

When Sanders said he didn’t consider Clinton “qualified” to be president last week because of her ties to super PACs, a low-blow to the former senator and secretary of state that he’s since walked back, Sanders justified his attack by claiming Clinton had said the same of him. She hadn’t, though – Sanders’ campaign seemingly got that impression from a headline and ran with it without checking Clinton’s actual remarks.

A careless attack, yet one that strikes at the heart of the quest to become the first female president. As Clare Malone and Julia Azari wrote at FiveThirtyEight, “Sanders’s remarks and their interpretation play into discussions of the subtle, pernicious forms of sexism that women in positions of power must deal with. At the core of Clinton’s candidate packaging is the idea that she has for decades been the competent woman behind the scenes a workhorse – not a show pony.”

To be clear: Sanders is a man of impeccable integrity and I have no doubt that he would never intend to use coded language on gender. But he was so confident that he was justified that he didn’t stop to consider the implications of his rhetoric.

This wasn’t the first time. Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager, made a similar misstep with sexist overtones when he complained that Clinton’s “ambition” could tear the Democratic Party apart. By definition anyone who runs for president is ambitious – Sanders is calling for a revolution! – but somehow it’s the woman’s ambition that’s dangerous.

Also recall the constant refrain about Clinton’s being too loud, a complaint rarely if ever leveled against the ever-yelling Sanders. And just this week, a Sanders surrogate contrasted Bernie with not simply, say, corporate sell-outs but with “Democratic whores” at a campaign rally.

The Sanders campaign laid the groundwork for these problematic statements by presenting themselves (and apparently believing it) as the campaign that always holds the moral high ground: From Wall Street to small donors, Sanders, unlike Clinton, isn’t spoiled by establishment ties. With this frame of mind, the campaign can dismiss as illegitimate any attempt by Clinton to take Sanders off his high horse. You’re apt to be less careful with potentially tricky topics if you view any critique as by definition illegitimate.

Protected by self-righteousness, there’s little need for self-reflection. Sanders doesn’t seem to realize he’s “starting to sound like his worst followers,” as Krugman wrote. His debate performance showed that the senator is starting to act like them too.

The Republican contest provides a cautionary tale about the importance of self-reflection in the midst of a campaign. A lack of self-awareness lead several GOP candidates to morph into the caricatures of themselves created by critics.

Jeb Bush kicked off his ‘joyful’ presidential bid in June with so much enthusiasm that it was incorporated into his official logo.(!) But then Donald Trump slapped him with the “low energy” label a few months later, and Bush was so consumed with disproving Trump’s critique that he didn’t notice the life evaporating from his campaign. Attempts to show passion at rallies came off as annoyance, while rehearsed debate zingers bumbled even when they hit their mark.

Similarly, Ben Carson entered the race after years of urging from conservatives impressed by his inner-city-to-neurosurgeon pedigree and bold remarks at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast. Yet as whispers of ineptitude began to swirl around his campaign, Carson himself became increasingly nonsensical as he struggled to prove his depth. He seemed confused by his own alleged life story and baffled by basic foreign policy and economics. He spent his final GOP debates practically catatonic, blissfully unconcerned by his lack of knowledge. Now he’s just a sideshow, providing comic relief as a disastrous Trump campaign surrogate.

Donald Trump, of course, has built his entire brand around a lack of self-awareness. He defends himself against claims that he’s sexist by treating women like objects and dismisses critics who call him a racist by doubling down on race-baiting rhetoric.

Sanders’ campaign has little in common with this Republican circus, of course. But Bernie isn’t impervious to valid criticism, and his campaign must accept this fact and give more thought to the implications of the rhetoric it chooses or risk turning Sanders into a caricature himself – the quintessential Bernie bro.

 

By: Emily Arrowood, Thomas Jefferson Street Blog, U. S. News and World Report, April 15, 2016

April 17, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Bros, Bernie Sanders, Democratic Presidential Primaries, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Sanders Over The Edge”: Starting To Sound Like His Worst Followers

From the beginning, many and probably most liberal policy wonks were skeptical about Bernie Sanders. On many major issues — including the signature issues of his campaign, especially financial reform — he seemed to go for easy slogans over hard thinking. And his political theory of change, his waving away of limits, seemed utterly unrealistic.

Some Sanders supporters responded angrily when these concerns were raised, immediately accusing anyone expressing doubts about their hero of being corrupt if not actually criminal. But intolerance and cultishness from some of a candidate’s supporters are one thing; what about the candidate himself?

Unfortunately, in the past few days the answer has become all too clear: Mr. Sanders is starting to sound like his worst followers. Bernie is becoming a Bernie Bro.

Let me illustrate the point about issues by talking about bank reform.

The easy slogan here is “Break up the big banks.” It’s obvious why this slogan is appealing from a political point of view: Wall Street supplies an excellent cast of villains. But were big banks really at the heart of the financial crisis, and would breaking them up protect us from future crises?

Many analysts concluded years ago that the answers to both questions were no. Predatory lending was largely carried out by smaller, non-Wall Street institutions like Countrywide Financial; the crisis itself was centered not on big banks but on “shadow banks” like Lehman Brothers that weren’t necessarily that big. And the financial reform that President Obama signed in 2010 made a real effort to address these problems. It could and should be made stronger, but pounding the table about big banks misses the point.

Yet going on about big banks is pretty much all Mr. Sanders has done. On the rare occasions on which he was asked for more detail, he didn’t seem to have anything more to offer. And this absence of substance beyond the slogans seems to be true of his positions across the board.

You could argue that policy details are unimportant as long as a politician has the right values and character. As it happens, I don’t agree. For one thing, a politician’s policy specifics are often a very important clue to his or her true character — I warned about George W. Bush’s mendacity back when most journalists were still portraying him as a bluff, honest fellow, because I actually looked at his tax proposals. For another, I consider a commitment to facing hard choices as opposed to taking the easy way out an important value in itself.

But in any case, the way Mr. Sanders is now campaigning raises serious character and values issues.

It’s one thing for the Sanders campaign to point to Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street connections, which are real, although the question should be whether they have distorted her positions, a case the campaign has never even tried to make. But recent attacks on Mrs. Clinton as a tool of the fossil fuel industry are just plain dishonest, and speak of a campaign that has lost its ethical moorings.

And then there was Wednesday’s rant about how Mrs. Clinton is not “qualified” to be president.

What probably set that off was a recent interview of Mr. Sanders by The Daily News, in which he repeatedly seemed unable to respond when pressed to go beyond his usual slogans. Mrs. Clinton, asked about that interview, was careful in her choice of words, suggesting that “he hadn’t done his homework.”

But Mr. Sanders wasn’t careful at all, declaring that what he considers Mrs. Clinton’s past sins, including her support for trade agreements and her vote to authorize the Iraq war — for which she has apologized — make her totally unfit for office.

This is really bad, on two levels. Holding people accountable for their past is O.K., but imposing a standard of purity, in which any compromise or misstep makes you the moral equivalent of the bad guys, isn’t. Abraham Lincoln didn’t meet that standard; neither did F.D.R. Nor, for that matter, has Bernie Sanders (think guns).

And the timing of the Sanders rant was truly astonishing. Given her large lead in delegates — based largely on the support of African-American voters, who respond to her pragmatism because history tells them to distrust extravagant promises — Mrs. Clinton is the strong favorite for the Democratic nomination.

Is Mr. Sanders positioning himself to join the “Bernie or bust” crowd, walking away if he can’t pull off an extraordinary upset, and possibly helping put Donald Trump or Ted Cruz in the White House? If not, what does he think he’s doing?

The Sanders campaign has brought out a lot of idealism and energy that the progressive movement needs. It has also, however, brought out a streak of petulant self-righteousness among some supporters. Has it brought out that streak in the candidate, too?

 

By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, April 8, 2016

April 9, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Bros, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Stop Global Whining”: In This World, You Can’t Break An Appointment With Disappointment

New York Times columnist Charles Blow didn’t go far enough: frankly, anybody who subscribes to the “Bernie or Bust” mentality needs to have his or her head examined. I’m sure such scans are covered by Obamacare (i.e., the shameful corporate compromise by that closet Republican in the White House!).

It is unfathomable that so-called committed progressives would selfishly sit out the 2016 general election because they can’t get over the fact that their preferred candidate did not win the Democratic nomination. It is unconscionable that those who claim to want to move America forward would allow the country to race backward over the next four to eight years. It is unbelievable that anyone with a halfway-rational mind thinks “Bernie or Bust” is a good idea.

The hatred that the “Bernie or Bust” camp holds for Hillary Clinton defies logic: how can one love Sanders and loathe Clinton? Both candidates are among the most accomplished public servants of the past half-century: despite their differences, they are united in their compassion for America’s shunned, stigmatized and suffering.

Sanders clearly respects Clinton, but for some reason, a critical mass of his supporters have nothing but disrespect for the former Secretary of State. These supporters have fallen for the false narrative that Clinton worships the wealthy and pleases the powerful–and that Sanders is the only morally sound candidate in the race. The Hillary-as-corporate-sellout meme is just as jaw-droppingly dopey as the argument that there was no substantive difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush sixteen years ago. What did Santayana say about those who don’t learn from history?

By the way, what exactly do the “Bernie or Bust” folks mean when they call Clinton a “corporatist”? Isn’t “corporatist” an inscrutable insult, not unlike the use of the term “politically correct” by right-wingers? I doubt any member of the “Bernie or Bust” crowd can provide a non-convoluted explanation of the term “corporatist.” The term is all sound and fury, signifying nothing.

What will these holier-than-Hillary folks say if Donald Trump is elected President–and his hate-filled rhetoric leads to more Mexicans being mauled by the malevolent? “Oops”? “My bad”? “I wasn’t thinking”?

Neither Clinton or Sanders are saints: Clinton is as imperfect on fracking as Sanders is on firearms. Yet I don’t see Clinton’s supporters threatening to stay home if the Vermonter is victorious in the Democratic primary.

The “Bernie or Bust” folks are just as irrational in their quest for ideological purity as the Tea Partiers who went after Dede Scozzafava, Bob Inglis, Mike Castle and Richard Lugar were. By choosing to stay home in the general election in the event Sanders loses the Democratic primary, these folks could effectively rig the game against the middle class for good.

In addition to harboring a heightened hostility towards Hillary Clinton, the “Bernie or Bust” crowd is notorious for its obnoxious opprobrium towards President Obama.

How many times have you heard the #NeverHillary types lambaste the 44th President as a compromising “corporatist” who stabbed progressives in the back at every turn and genuflected to the 1 percent? (Even Sanders himself bought into this odd narrative: why else would he have called for Obama to be primaried in 2012, knowing full well that such a primary would have weakened Obama in the general election, just as Ted Kennedy’s 1980 primary challenge to President Carter made the incumbent easy prey for Ronald Reagan?)

I’m not exactly sure where the “Bernie or Bust” crowd got the idea that Obama was supposed to be the ultimate progressive warrior: his famous speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention made it clear, to everyone who actually paid attention, that Obama was a pragmatist at heart, someone who believed that reaching across the aisle was a moral duty, someone who was committed to the idea that the red, white and blue, involved, well, red and blue.

That speech–an insight into Barack Obama’s soul–was not a particularly progressive address, and anyone who expected Obama to govern from a perspective of progressive purity apparently failed to grasp the true tenor of that speech. Having said that, progressives made gains during the Obama administration, as Paul Krugman has noted. Too bad some of those progressives don’t seem to appreciate it.

I argued last year that “a compelling case can be made that Barack Obama is one of the greatest presidents of all-time.” Sadly, it appears that Obama will not get the historical props he deserves for his accomplishments–not only because of the revisionist history of the reactionary right, but also because of the revisionist history of the self-righteous “Bernie or Bust”-ers on the left, the Union of the Ungrateful that fails to acknowledge Obama’s victories on economic reform, equality, climate change and health care, among other issues. This time, the cliche is appropriate: if Obama walked on water, progressive purists would say he couldn’t swim.

Like Prince’s parents in “When Doves Cry,” the “Bernie or Bust” crowd is too bold and never satisfied–and they will find new reasons to be disgruntled if Sanders upsets Clinton in the Democratic primary and becomes the 45th president. They won’t be happy once President Sanders compromises with Republicans and conservative Democrats, as he must in order to govern. They won’t be happy if President Sanders authorizes drone strikes and sanctions the strengthening of the surveillance state in an effort to incapacitate ISIS. They won’t be happy when President Sanders makes it clear that he cannot fully, or even partially, implement his economic vision.

Presumably, they will then turn on Sanders and denounce him as another traitor to the cause, another sellout to the “Democratic establishment” (cue the horror music). They will never acknowledge the truth: that governing is hard work and requires compromise. Bill Clinton understood this. Barack Obama understands this. If he succeeds Obama as President, Bernie Sanders will understand this. However, his most fervent supporters won’t–because, at bottom, they do not understand that in this world, you can’t break an appointment with disappointment.

 

By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 3, 2016

April 4, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Bros, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Progressives | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Understanding Bernie Bros”: Right-Wing Hillary-Haters Seeking To Foment Discord Among Democrats

Sometimes I think I learned more politically relevant lessons playing ball than anywhere else. If nothing else, sports teach realism: what you can do, what you can’t, how to deal with it. Also, what’s the score, how much time’s left, and what’s the best tactic right now?

It helps to know the rules, and it’s important to keep your head. Bad plays are inevitable, dumb plays less forgivable.

But here’s something else you learn playing ball: not everybody on your team is going to be your friend, just as people wearing different-colored shirts aren’t personal enemies.

Also, spectators can be fickle. Your most passionate fans can quickly turn into your opponent’s ally.

These are all useful concepts during an American primary election.

An athlete in his youth, Bernie Sanders appears to understand overwrought fans. His campaign’s apology to Hillary Clinton supporters harassed online by so-called “Bernie Bros,” angry young men given to coarse attacks upon anybody — especially women — supporting his rival was a class move.

“If you support @berniesanders,” Sanders aide Mike Casca tweeted from Iowa, “please follow the senator’s lead and be respectful when people disagree with you.”

Columnist Joan Walsh has called out the Bernie Bros’ behavior. “When I’ve disclosed that my daughter works for Clinton — in The Nation, on MSNBC, and on social media — we’ve both come in for trolling so vile,” she wrote “it’s made me not merely defensive of her. It’s forced me to recognize how little society respects the passion of the many young women — and men — who are putting their souls into electing the first female president.”

Walsh told BuzzFeed that while she didn’t blame Sanders, “it is disturbing to see such a misogynist strain in the male left. It’s not a new thing, but it’s tough to experience.”

Kathleen Geier, a contributor to The Nation and a Sanders supporter, concedes the Bernie Bros are definitely “doing harm to the cause. I haven’t seen people treat Obama supporters like this, or supporters of other male establishment candidates — just Hillary. So it’s definitely misogyny.”

Well, yes and no. See, I suspect many of these jokers are Internet trolls in the original sense: right-wing Hillary-haters seeking to foment discord among Democrats.

Anybody can pretend to be anything online. Anonymity encourages people to unmask their darkest impulses. Read the comments line to almost anything on the Internet about the Clinton-Sanders campaign.

Did a group of prominent women Senators and diplomats endorse Hillary?

“Their vaginas are making terrible choices!” writes one characteristically vulgar Sanders supporter. The discussion goes straight downhill from there.

Even in the relatively civilized precincts of The Guardian, commenters to a Jill Abramson column sympathetic to Clinton revel in nasty sexual insults:

“Yes, please tell me how Shillary is the nicest corporate oligarchical servant, and how she will lovingly sell out the people who voted for her to her banker masters, with a twinkle in her fellating eye.”

Another online philosopher opines that “she can’t be good for a nation if she wasn’t good enough for her husband.”

A third adds that “Hillary is a terrible campaigner and a much worse human being. She is thoroughly corrupt, dishonest, vile, vindictive, vengeful, condescending, etc.”

As somebody who’s gotten obscene, often threatening emails WRITTEN ALL IN IN CAPS for years, I can’t say I’m shocked. Recently a tough guy in Illinois speculated that being named “Eugene” made me a sissy; Noreen says Hillary’s a COMMIE BITCH. My photo makes her vomit.

All in a day’s work.

Anyway, maybe I’m looking in the wrong places, but I see no comparable venom towards Bernie Sanders. My own strongest reservation is that despite his admirable qualities, I’ve seen few signs of political realism in his campaign.

As baseball people say, there’s no such thing as a six-run home run. How otherwise sensible Democrats have persuaded themselves that a candidate preaching “revolution” and promising big tax increases can win come November in swing states like Ohio, Michigan, and Florida—places that have trended Democratic, but have Republican governors — is hard for me to grasp.

(Unless, of course, the GOP nominates a far-right Froot Loop like Ted Cruz, not a probability I’d want to gamble on.)

The Daily Banter’s Chez Pazienza sums up everything that needs to be said about “Bernie Bros,” make-believe and real: “if you’re a liberal who believes these things about Clinton — if you see her as anything other than a liberal Democrat who’s guilty of nothing more than being a politician with faults and with a plethora of enemies like every other on this planet, including Bernie Sanders — you’ve proven that the protracted smear campaign against this woman has worked. You prove that the GOP won a long time ago.”

Meanwhile, both candidates’ supporters would do well to recall that Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton voted together in the U.S. Senate 93 percent of the time.

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, February 10, 2016

February 14, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Bros, Bernie Sanders, Democratic Primary Debates, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

%d bloggers like this: