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“How Sanders Made Clinton’s Win Illegitimate”: Simple Math, Clinton Has Been Inevitable Democratic Nominee Since April

OK, so the fix is in. In one sense, it’s too bad the Associated Press and the TV networks called the Democratic race for Hillary Clinton before New Jersey, California and four smaller states voted on June 7. Judging by my email and Facebook feed, this decision has inflamed the Bernie-cult’s belief that they’ve been cheated by the “establishment.”

Whatever the results, they’ve been rendered illegitimate in some eyes by the news media’s premature call. Never mind that news organizations feel a professional duty to report the facts as quickly as they are ascertained. Not much imagination is required to grasp the mischief that could result from their doing it any other way.

Never mind too that anybody who can do the electoral arithmetic knows that Hillary Clinton has been the inevitable Democratic nominee since April, when she prevailed in New York and Pennsylvania by 16 and 13 points respectively. There simply weren’t enough populous states left for Sanders to catch up—unless he could win California by an impossible 60 points.

Nevertheless, Bernie soldiered on. Doing his best impersonation of Prof. Irwin Corey, the Brooklyn-born comic billed as “The World’s Greatest Authority,” Sanders (and his advisors) began to make ever more absurd analyses of how he’d wind up on top. Like Corey, who appeared frequently with Johnny Carson on the old Tonight Show in professorial garb, spouting hilariously self-contradictory gibberish, Bernie sought to explain away electoral reality.

First came the argument that Clinton’s wins in “red state” Southern primaries shouldn’t count, because the South is the most conservative region of the country. These same strictures did not apply, of course, to Sanders’ victories among downtrodden white Democrats in the Cow States—Kansas, Oklahoma, Utah and Idaho, actually more one-sidedly Republican. Not to mention thinly-populated.

Notwithstanding the likelihood that several Southern states could be in play come November, as Kansas and Idaho almost certainly won’t be, his insult to African-American voters could hardly have been more ill-advised. If it was Sanders’ intention to turn himself into the white-bread college kids’ candidate, he couldn’t have done better.

It must be thrilling to be the 74 year-old Pied Piper of the campus set, because Bernie was hard at it during a recent California stadium rally. He interrupted his ritual chant about millionaires, billionaires and Wall Street to favor the crowd with some old-timey Marxist-style cant.

“’Any objective analyst of the current campaign understands that the energy and the grass-roots activism of this campaign is with us,’ Sanders bellowed, putting an emphasis on that last word. “Not Hillary Clinton.’”

“Objective,” you see, has always been radical-speak for “in my opinion.” Back in his Socialist Workers Party days, I’m sure Bernie won a lot of arguments browbeating people that way.

My own scientific view is that twenty-somethings go to rallies; older people vote. As New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait put it: “Energy and activism are definitely part of the election process. But the way you determine the winner is by holding elections.”

Meanwhile, instead of complaining about the complexity of election rules, Sanders would have been wiser to ignore Wall Street and billionaires for a few minutes to explain those rules to his supporters. No, you can’t vote in a New York Democratic primary unless you’re a registered Democrat. Too bad, but there it is, and it’s been that way for a generation.

Instead, Sanders and his minions went around kvetching that ineligible voters would have put them over the top. They seized upon every election glitch nationwide to complain that they were being cheated.

For example, 132,000 mostly black voters in Brooklyn somehow got left off the rolls. Bernie supporters all, his campaign would have you believe, although Sanders otherwise lost the borough 60-40—and African-American New Yorkers worse than that. Probably the voting errors hurt Clinton, although there’s no real way to know.

Chait acidly sums up the rest of the Sanders camp’s extended whine:  Bernie has won a lot of states, they say. Yeah, 20 as of this writing, exactly 40 percent of the total. With several small grazing states in play on June 7, this number will doubtless change.

No matter, in Electoral College terms, Sanders is nowhere.

The rest of it amounts to a shell game.

Chait: “Clinton has a large lead in pledged delegates, and an even larger lead in super-delegates. You could rely entirely on one or the other, or change the weights between them in any fashion, and Clinton would still win. Sanders simply refuses to accept the combination of the two, instead changing subjects from one to the other. Ask him about the pledged delegates, and he brings up the super-delegates. Ask about the super-delegates, and he changes to the pledged delegates. It’s an infinite loop of bullshit.”

First Bernie denounced “super-delegates” as an impediment to democracy; now he’s counting upon them to begin the revolution by overturning the will of Democratic voters.

Fat chance.

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, June 8, 2016

June 10, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic Presidential Primaries, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Mr. Trump’s All-White Nostalgia Movement”: It’s Demographic Panic, Not Economic Panic, That’s Driving His Rise

Donald Trump, sounding something like Bernie Sanders, says he’s building a “movement.”

And in a sense, Trump is right. He is building a movement, of sorts, but not the kind that will help grow the Republican Party.

While Trump has won a record number of primary votes, he hasn’t done that by creating new Republican voters. Instead, he’s pulled GOP general election voters into the primaries by exciting white male voters like few candidates since Ronald Reagan.

That’s why, despite his historically bad numbers with non-white voters—more than three in four Hispanics and nearly nine in ten African-Americans don’t like him—Trump has been closing in on Hillary Clinton in national polls and in statewide surveys too, particularly when the white vote share is bumped up as it was in Quinnipiac’s Ohio and Pennsylvania polls presuming a whiter electorate in those states in 2016 than in 2012.

Trump leads Clinton 52 percent to 36 percent among whites overall in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll; a figure driven by his 11-point lead with seniors, his nine-point advantage with men, and his five-point advantage with independents. And while the latter three figures are not broken down by race, Trump’s terrible ratings with nonwhite voters make it clear what lies beneath the top lines.

With Trump’s campaign, America has arrived at a moment that would be familiar in Europe, where ethno-nationalistic parties have surged in countries like France, Belgium and Austria, particularly as the crisis in Syria has driven Arab refugees onto the continent. In the U.S., the drivers of ethno-nationalism are different, but they are similarly related to the jarring impact of demographic change.

The exit polls from nearly two-dozen Republican primaries have yielded lots of data about who the Trump voters are, and the findings belie the myth that their anger is grounded in economic want. In fact, while they have lower incomes than Republicans who supported candidates like Marco Rubio or John Kasich, Trump voters are far from broke—their $72,000 average household income is will above the American average of is $56,000.

They are, instead, more like the profile of Tea Party voters; mostly 45 years of age and older, middle class, and a mix of non-college and some-college educated men and a smaller number of women who believe the country is dangerously off track.

Robert P. Jones of the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute has done extensive research into the “why” of the Trump rebellion, and it turns out to have more to do with demographic panic than economic panic.

Sixty-eight percent of Trump supporters believe American culture has become too “soft and feminine”; two-thirds say it bugs them when they engage with an immigrant who doesn’t speak English (just 46 percent of Cruz voters said the same), and nearly half worry about themselves or their families becoming victims of a terrorist attack. Nearly six in ten Trump voters believe the federal government has paid too much attention to the plight of black and other nonwhite groups (vs. nearly four in ten Cruz supporters). And Trump voters overwhelmingly support banning Muslims from the U.S., while a plurality believe Islam is incompatible with American values.

According to PRRI, a majority of Trump supporters agree with the statements that America was better off 50 years ago—when white, Christian men were culturally ascendant, before “women’s lib” and the big victories of the Civil Rights Movement, before busing and affirmative action and the liberalizing immigration actions of the federal government in 1965 and 1986.

Jones calls these voters, who are overwhelmingly white Protestant Christians, “nostalgia voters.” They are nostalgic for the America they believe existed before the tumult of the 1960s; when a white working class man could hold down a blue-collar job and take care of his family, with a secure job for life and a wife who stayed at home, kids who could go to an affordable college, and a retirement padded with a decent pension. Because that is not the America non-white Americans knew, they by and large feel more hopeful about the future, grounded in the knowledge that the country has come far enough to elect a black president.

But for nostalgic Trumpians, who a RAND Corporation March survey found express a sense of “personal powerlessness,” more than any other single trait, the future looks bleak indeed.

That’s why it doesn’t matter what outrageous things Trump says or does. His most fervent supporters want someone who looks and sounds like them but who has the charisma and personal economic clout to shake things up on their behalf. They want someone who makes both a series of connected promises (a wall across the southern border that Mexico is somehow forced to pay for, a ban on Muslim migrants, and no more nation building in the Middle East), and a central one: to put people like them back on top, both here and around the world. With “Mr. Trump” in charge, they figure, the world will look at the U.S. with awe and fear again, and in a way; that means the world will look at them that way, too.

The trouble for the GOP is that for all the passion and fervor of the Trump moment, there simply aren’t enough of these voters left in the population for them to easily have their way. Unlike in midterm elections, when voters of color typically opt out, if turnout rates remain as they have over the last 20 years of presidential election cycles, it will be tough for him to grow his “Trump bump” of around 46 percent today, to above the 50 percent threshold.

Especially since white voters are themselves split, with a plurality continuing to side with Democrats on economic and cultural matters, from union support to the minimum wage to a more liberal view of economics, immigration and culture. Trump may well match or even exceed Mitt Romney’s 59 percent white vote share in 2012, but he’ll likely need something more like Ronald Reagan’s never-since-equaled 66 percent in 1984 to overcome what could be an historic deficit with voters of color, who Pew Research estimates will comprise 30 percent of the electorate this year.

If Trump can do that, it will be a revolution indeed.

 

By: Joy-Ann Reid, The Daily Beast, May 24, 2016

May 25, 2016 Posted by | Demographics, Donald Trump, White Male Voters | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“His Campaign Has Developed A Closed Feedback Loop”: Does Sanders Continue To Deserve The Benefit Of The Doubt?

From the beginning I questioned the seriousness of Bernie Sanders’ proposals. Long before the disastrous New York Daily News interview, it seemed obvious to me that he was better at pointing out problems than he was at crafting actual solutions.

Then came the debates. Sanders’ explanation for any barrier to progressive change was the corruption of big money – that was true for both Democrats and Republicans. Discussion became almost impossible. Anyone who didn’t agree with him was an establishment sell-out.

As it became increasingly clear that he was going to lose the nomination to Hillary Clinton – despite doing better than anyone thought he would – the excuses began. It was because Southern states with African American voters went early in the process. Then it was because of closed primaries. Initially the campaign railed against the superdelegates. All that was reversed in an attempt to justify Sanders staying in the race based on the idea that he could flip them to support him instead of Clinton. None of that made any sense and his message got lost in complaints about the process.

Through all of that I wanted to give Sanders the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to believe that he was in this race to promote the progressive ideas he has championed his entire career, and that when the results were all in, he would do what Clinton did in 2008…support the nominee and come out of the convention in Philadelphia as a unified party.

Believing that wasn’t a pipe dream. During his time in the House and Senate, Sanders has demonstrated the ability to work within the system to advocate for progressive change. For example, in 2009 he proposed single payer in the Senate, but pulled the bill when it was clear that it didn’t have the votes. He then went on to fight for positive changes to Obamacare (i.e., community health centers) and eventually voted for it.

But the time for giving Sanders the benefit of the doubt might have ended. Paul Waldman explains it well.

If he and his people want to actually exercise some influence, they’ll have to start thinking about mundane things like presidential appointments, executive branch regulations, and the details of complex legislation. Victories in those forums will be partial and sporadic. From our vantage point today, is there anything to suggest that’s an enterprise he and his people will be willing to devote their efforts to? What happens if Clinton offers Sanders something — changes to the party’s platform, or input on her nominees? Will his supporters say, “This may not have been all we wanted, but it’s still meaningful”? No, they won’t. They’ll see it as a compromise with the corrupt system they’ve been fighting, a sellout, thirty pieces of silver that Sanders ought to toss back in her face. That’s because Sanders has told them over and over that the system is irredeemable, and nothing short of its complete dismantling is worthwhile…

To be honest, at the moment it looks like there’s no going back. Sanders could come out tomorrow and tell his supporters that even if they don’t get their revolution, it’s still worth working for every bit of positive change they can achieve. But that would mean disavowing everything he’s told them up until now.

In other words, the Sanders campaign has developed a closed feedback loop. No matter the outcome, it reinforces the premise. It is hard to see how that changes.

My one remaining hope was that perhaps the candidate himself could break out and convince at least some of his supporters to take a more constructive path. Martin is right, they’re not all Bernie Bros. That hope was beginning to die when Josh Marshall pulled the final plug.

For months I’d thought and written that Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver was the key driver of toxicity in the the Democratic primary race…

But now I realize I had that wrong.

Actually, I didn’t realize it. People who know told me.

Over the last several weeks I’ve had a series of conversations with multiple highly knowledgable, highly placed people. Perhaps it’s coming from Weaver too. The two guys have been together for decades. But the ‘burn it down’ attitude, the upping the ante, everything we saw in that statement released today by the campaign seems to be coming from Sanders himself. Right from the top.

We are reaching the end game here. The question for me isn’t so much about what Clinton will do – she is putting her energy into winning the remaining states and has already begun to pivot to the general election. What remains to be seen is what happens to the progressive movement in the Democratic Party. If Sanders insists on “burning things down,” will it survive?

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 19, 2016

May 20, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton, Sanders Supporters | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Sanders’ White Posses”: Bernie Sanders And Racism Lite

In a statement on the Nevada rampage by some of his supporters, Bernie Sanders said a remarkable thing. He said, “Our campaign has held giant rallies all across this country, including in high-crime areas, and there have been zero reports of violence.”

Who lives in “high-crime areas”? We all know the answer: dark people. But it wasn’t dark people hurling chairs and death threats at the Nevada Democratic Party convention. It was Sanders’ own white followers. (The YouTube videos make that clear.)

One reason there’s been no violence at Sanders’ rallies is that outsiders aren’t disrupting them. It is Sanders’ white posses that are invading the events of others, be it Democratic Party meetings or Donald Trump rallies.

Now, the Sanders statement did say, “I condemn any and all forms of violence, including the personal harassment of individuals.” But then he likened this outrage to shots being fired into his campaign office.

The problem with this attempt at symmetry is that we don’t know who fired into his campaign office. It is my hope that the perpetrator is caught and thrown in jail. But we know exactly who threw chairs. The FBI, meanwhile, should be hot on the tails of the creeps who made death threats against a Nevada Democratic Party official and her family. That’s a federal crime.

Sanders should have made his condemnation of violence short and sweet. In doing so, he could have emphasized that the vast majority of his supporters are good, nonviolent people.

But then he went on, stoking the self-pity that has permeated his campaign. This was not the time to go into his allegedly unfair treatment at the hands of Democratic officials as he’s been doing ad nauseam.

If Sanders’ tying of political violence to “high-crime areas” were his only racially tinged remark, one might give it a pass. But he has a history.

There was his infamous waving-of-the-hand dismissal of Hillary Clinton’s commanding Southern victories, which were powered by African-American voters.

“I think that having so many Southern states go first kind of distorts reality,” he said.

Whose reality, one might ask. Actually, the overwhelmingly white electorates of Iowa and New Hampshire (where Sanders won big) got to go first. He didn’t have a problem with that.

This is a veiled racism that cannot find cover in Sanders’ staunch pro-civil rights record. Real black people seem to make Sanders uncomfortable (as Larry David captured on his “Saturday Night Live” skits).

Sanders’ idea of a black surrogate has been the academic Cornel West. West has called Barack Obama “a Rockefeller Republican in blackface” and “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs,” among other nasty things. Ordinary African-Americans tend to revere Obama, so where did this crashing insensitivity come from?

It may have come from decades of being holed up in the white radical-left universe. In the 1960s, Sanders abandoned the “high-crime areas” of Brooklyn, his childhood home, and repaired to the whitest state in the nation. (Vermont had become a safe haven for liberals leaving — the word then was “fleeing” — the cities.)

Nuance alert: Sanders has done good work in attracting more white working-class voters to the Democratic side. His emphasis on economic issues is a welcome change from the party’s frequent obsession with identity politics. That is admirable.

Less admirable are the windy justifiable-rage explanations in what should have been a simple censure. And to then link expectations of violence to “high-crime areas” was pretty disgraceful. There should be no white-privilege carve-out for thuggery.

 

By: Froma Harrop, The National Memo, May 19, 2016

May 19, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Nevada Caucus, Sanders Supporters | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Boehner Won’t Vote For Cruz”: ‘I Have Never Worked With A More Miserable Son Of A Bitch In My Life’

Former Speaker of the House John Boehner made news last night when he made an appearance at Stanford University.

“You can call me boner, beaner, jackass, happy to answer to almost anything,” said former Speaker of the House John Boehner as he took the stage at CEMEX Auditorium on Wednesday evening. Boehner joined David M. Kennedy, faculty director and history professor emeritus, in a talk hosted by Stanford in Government (SIG) and the Stanford Speakers Bureau.

Naturally, the discussion focused on Boehner’s time at the helm of the House of Representatives, but they also discussed his view of the presidential race.

Segueing into the topic, Kennedy asked Boehner to be frank given that the event was not being broadcasted, and the former Speaker responded in kind. When specifically asked his opinions on Ted Cruz, Boehner made a face, drawing laughter from the crowd.

“Lucifer in the flesh,” the former speaker said. “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”

Boehner went on to say that he’s “texting buddies” with Donald Trump, has played a lot of golf with him over the years, and that, although he doesn’t agree with all his policy proposals, he would vote for him in November. However, he bluntly said that he would not vote for Ted Cruz.

During his time as Speaker, Boehner struggled to deal with the non-reality-based Freedom Caucus rump of his party, and Sen. Ted Cruz played a big role in egging that faction on. This explains most of the animosity that Boehner is nursing now. But it would be a mistake to see Boehner as very grounded in reality himself, because he easily slips into the most submental conspiratorial gibberish.

On Clinton, Boehner’s reviews were more mixed. Early in the talk, the speaker impersonated Clinton, saying “Oh I’m a woman, vote for me,” to a negative crowd reaction. Later, he added that he had known Clinton for 25 years and finds her to be very accomplished and smart.

Boehner also speculated about surprises that could come closer to the Democratic National Convention if Hillary Clinton’s emails became a larger scandal.

“Don’t be shocked … if two weeks before the convention, here comes Joe Biden parachuting in and Barack Obama fanning the flames to make it all happen,” Boehner said.

At least in theory, the president could use his influence over the Justice Department and the Intelligence Community to turn Clinton’s email server issue into a crippling liability right before the Democratic convention in Philadelphia. He might then, in typical Frank Underwood style, orchestrate things so that Joe Biden could “parachute in” and act as the party’s savior.

But, despite Boehner’s previous seat in the highest corridors of power where he might have gleaned animosities that are invisible to the rest of us, there isn’t the slightest outward sign that President Obama is displeased to see Clinton emerge as his likely successor. The president has remained ostensibly neutral during the primaries, but he quietly got his message out that he preferred Clinton to Sanders, and that was reflected in (among other things) how the black community voted in the South and elsewhere.

It could be that the president actually would prefer Biden to Clinton, but to suggest that he would misuse his powers to sabotage Clinton at this late date in order to secure the presidency for his friend Biden is heat-fevered lunacy as far as I am concerned.

Boehner is supposed to be the sane one, and yet he’s just as infected as the rest of them.

Still, the fact that he wouldn’t vote for Cruz is a canary in the coal mine. Consider that during part of Boehner’s speakership his partner was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. And McConnell stated publicly just before the New York primary that he was still hoping for a brokered convention that could stop Trump. The most obvious beneficiary of a brokered convention would be Ted Cruz.

This is the definition of a fractured party.

 

By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 28, 2016

May 1, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, John Boehner, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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