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“Time To Think Less About Revolution Than Evolution”: It’s All Over But The Shouting; Hillary Clinton Crushed Bernie Sanders

Another handful of Clinton wins in big states, and the margins grow. I’m writing before the full pledged delegate count from tonight is known, but she led by 244 coming into tonight not counting super delegates and that may grow by another 30 to 40. (Here’s a great delegate calculator; bookmark it.)

As for the popular vote, she led it by a lot coming into Tuesday night: 10.4 million to 7.7 million, a nearly 2.7 million-vote difference, or 57 to 43 percent, numbers that we call a landslide in a general election. She may have added a couple hundred thousand to that margin tonight. Depending on what happens in California and New Jersey, this could end up being close to 60-40.

So forgive me for being a little confused about why these margins give Bernie Sanders such “leverage” in what we presume to be his looming negotiations with Hillary Clinton over the future of the party of which he’s not a member. It is “incumbent” upon Clinton, he told Chris Hayes Monday on MSNBC, “to tell millions of people who right now do not believe in establishment politics or establishment economics, who have serious misgivings about a candidate who has received millions of dollars from Wall Street and other special interests.”

Is there precedent for the losing candidate demanding that the winning candidate prove her bona fides to his voters? I sure can’t think of any. The most recent precedent we have for this kind of thing is 2008, a contest that of course involved Hillary Clinton. Let’s have a look at how that one wound down.

Clinton did indeed run until the end, winning states all along the way. On the last day of voting, June 3, they drew—she took South Dakota, and he won Montana. At that point, depending on what you did or didn’t count (Michigan and Florida were weird races that year after they broke the DNC calendar to move their primary dates up, and the party punished them by taking away delegates), she was actually ahead of Obama on popular votes. But even excluding Michigan, where Obama wasn’t on the ballot, it was a hell of a lot closer than 57-43. It was 51-49.

Did Clinton carry on about her campaign of the people? Did she say it was incumbent upon Obama to prove his worth to her voters? Did she put her forefinger on her cheek for weeks and make Obama twist in the wind? No, of course not.

Four days after the voting ended, she got out of the race, gave the famous 18-million-cracks-in-the-glass-ceiling speech, and said: “The way to continue our fight now, to accomplish the goals for which we stand is to take our energy, our passion, our strength, and do all we can to help elect Barack Obama, the next president of the United States. Today, as I suspend my campaign, I congratulate him on the victory he has won and the extraordinary race he has run. I endorse him and throw my full support behind him. And I ask all of you to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me. I have served in the Senate with him for four years. I have been in this campaign with him for 16 months. I have stood on the stage and gone toe-to-toe with him in 22 debates. I’ve had a front-row seat to his candidacy, and I have seen his strength and determination, his grace and his grit. In his own life, Barack Obama has lived the American dream…” and so on. She laid it on thick, and gave a strong and gracious convention speech later.

Now granted, it’s not June. There’s plenty of time for this to wind down civilly. It was a good sign that Tad Devine ++told The New York Times Tuesday afternoon++  that Sanders would “reassess” things Wednesday morning. Of course, that was Devine talking—the only one of Sanders’s top crew who is actually a Democrat and who has to mend fences to eat lunch in this town. At the same time that Devine was speaking these conciliatory words, the Sanders camp sent out a cheeky, we’re-not-done-yet fund-raising solicitation featuring a photo of Bill and Hill at the Donald’s wedding.

So the signals from Sanders-world are mixed. One thing’s for sure: There is no expectation that Sanders will behave like Clinton did in 2008. It’s worth examining why.

On the one hand, it’s understandable. He’s not a Democrat, so party loyalty isn’t a thing here. And the main thing is that the ideological differences between Sanders and Clinton are greater than between Clinton and Obama, or John Edwards and John Kerry, or Bill Bradley and Al Gore. The people voting for Bernie are voting to reject Hillary’s politics in a more fundamental way than the people voting for Bradley were rejecting Gore.

On the other hand… the media’s expectations of these people hinges so greatly on the personality types they establish, and that the media just accept them. No one expects Sanders to be a team player because he’s a guy (emphasis on guy) who has always agitated outside the system. Whereas everyone expects Clinton to behave properly because she’s a woman (emphasis on woman) who has always been the type to do what’s expected of her.

If this were two men, the onus would clearly be on the one who’s behind to play ball and do the responsible thing. But I can’t help suspecting that the media are going to put the weight on her in these next few weeks: Will Hillary accept Bernie’s conditions?

She shouldn’t accept conditions. But she absolutely should take steps to mollify his voters. She’s going to have to. However, she should do it like someone who’s ahead 57-43 should do it. She should say: Sure, I’ll adopt a couple of your positions. But I have a couple of conditions of my own. If I hear the words “Goldman” and “Sachs” coming out of your mouth one more time, if I see any more fund-raising appeals that paint me as the harlot of Wall Street, the deal is dead, and I’ll call Chuck Schumer and make sure that you don’t chair the Budget Committee if we retake the Senate, but instead you have the post-office renaming subcommittee. And I may drop some of that oppo I have on you that I’ve never used. You know the stuff I mean.

Sanders should run to the end. He owes it to his backers in California and New Jersey to give them a chance to vote for him. I don’t know anyone who says otherwise. But it’s now time for him to think about his future, and the future of the influence his movement will have in the Democratic Party.

I want that movement to have influence. There are a lot of people like me, who think Clinton is the stronger candidate, but want Sanders to have some influence over her. And to us, it looks like it’s time for him to think less about revolution than evolution.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, April 27, 2016

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic Presidential Primaries, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Hold Your Fire, Democrats”: Leave The Party Infighting To The Republicans.

OK. It’s time.

It’s time to prove the legendary Will Rogers wrong when he said, “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” Or to prove, in fact, that the current circular firing squad is the Republican Party and not the Democrats.

After the New York primary, we are at a crucial period in the Democratic race. Sure, we are going to go on until June 7, but the next seven weeks will be crucial in determining whether the Democrats shout at each other or shout at the Republicans. I prefer the latter, thank you.

First of all, there is no need for the Hillary Clinton camp to attack independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and no reason to bait them either. With one week to go before five states decide on April 26, they are in the driver’s seat in this campaign. And there are only a total of five contests during all of May. So work as hard as can be to win the bulk of the primaries on April 26, but don’t have surrogates taking shots at Sanders. No need.

As for Bernie and his supporters, one lesson he has learned from New York and earlier contests is that the more he attacks Clinton, the worse he does. No more attack ads. No more speeches about speeches. No more questioning her “qualifications” or even “judgment.” It simply won’t help the Sanders campaign, and it conflicts with his own message and who he is in this race.

The month of May is important in setting the stage for November. In 2008, Hillary Clinton backed off from the critique of then-Sen. Barack Obama and played out the primaries until June. Bernie should do the same, especially after this week of competing in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware and Maryland.

Not only is it important to make this race about Democrats v. Republicans and the strikingly different visions for the country, it is also important to have a unified party that will win back the Senate and, possibly, even the House in November. In order for the Democrats to build from this primary season, it is critical that they put the back-and-forth of a contentious campaign behind them. Of course, compared to the Republicans this has been a tame contest – beanbag really. But what the Democrats don’t need is a senseless negative barrage of ads or talking heads who take off after each other. The candidates lose, the Democratic Party loses and the chances increase that we lose a much-deserved advantage come November.

The bottom line here is that what Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have been talking about for the last year can only be accomplished with a resounding victory in November – not just winning the presidency but electing Democrats up and down the ticket, and especially in the House and the Senate. Getting the things done they have talked about means having the bodies in Congress to deliver the legislation. There is too much at stake now – time to avoid that circular firing squad. Leave that to the Republicans.

 

By: Peter Fenn, Head, Fenn Communications, U. S. News and World Report, April 21, 2016

April 21, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Republicans | , , , , , | 3 Comments

“The Day Of Reckoning Is Nigh”: The Democratic Race Has Now Devolved Into Nastiness

The Democratic nominee for president will be running against a political novice who is widely despised, or a senator so unpopular that only two of his colleagues support him, or a governor far too moderate for his party’s hard-line base, or someone else chosen at a bitterly contested convention. For Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, what could possibly go wrong?

Plenty. Begin with the fact that the Clinton-Sanders race has devolved into gratuitous and self-destructive nastiness.

The rhetorical hissing and spitting escalated Wednesday when Sanders charged that Clinton — a former senator, secretary of state and first lady — is not “qualified” to be president. It was a ridiculous thing to say. One thing it’s impossible to claim about Clinton is that she lacks an adequate résumé.

When challenged on the statement, Sanders resorted to the she-hit-me-first defense: “She has been saying lately that she thinks that I am, quote-unquote, not qualified to be president.” The problem is that Clinton never said such a thing. In fact, when pressed repeatedly by “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough on the question, Clinton touted herself as the better choice but refused to say that Sanders is unqualified. (I should note that I often appear on Scarborough’s show.)

Clinton did, in that interview, echo her standard critique of Sanders, which is that his proposals are pie in the sky. She drew attention to his recent meeting with the editorial board of the New York Daily News in which he was asked for details of his plan to break up the big banks. His less-than-complete answers, Clinton said, show that “what he has been saying about the core issue in his whole campaign doesn’t seem to be rooted in an understanding of either the law or the practical ways you get something done.”

Ouch. Sanders wasn’t that bad at the Daily News. And frankly, his questioners seemed more confused about some aspects of financial regulation than Sanders did.

On Thursday, Sanders was still hopping mad. At an appearance in Philadelphia, he told reporters that “if Secretary Clinton thinks that I just come from the small state of Vermont, that we’re not used to this, well, we’ll get used to it fast. I’m not going to get beaten up. I’m not going to get lied about. We will fight back.”

Clinton clearly wanted to be seen as taking the high road. “I don’t know why he’s saying that, but I will take Bernie Sanders over Ted Cruz or Donald Trump any time,” she said.

Does that ring a bell? Does anyone else recall those early debates in which both candidates pledged to forswear personal attacks and stick to the issues? We’re now at the point that it takes days of bitter squabbling before the campaigns can even agree on a time and place for their next debate. It will be in Brooklyn — Sanders’s birthplace and the site of Clinton’s campaign headquarters — on April 14. One assumes the gloves will be off.

It is no mystery why this once-polite contest has become so testy: What may be the day of reckoning is nigh.

Clinton’s lead in delegates is now big enough that Sanders practically has to run the table in the remaining states. He needs decisive wins, starting with the April 19 primary in New York. Conversely, Clinton can effectively put the nomination out of Sanders’s reach with a big victory in the state that elected her to the U.S. Senate.

The Clinton campaign’s view is that Sanders is already so far behind that he’ll never catch up; they should know, because that’s the position Clinton was in vs. Barack Obama in 2008. It is time, the Clintonistas believe, for Sanders to think about dropping out in the interest of party unity.

I have argued that Sanders has every right to stay in and that his many supporters in states yet to vote should have the chance to express their preference. But if it’s not time for Sanders to pull out, it’s also not time for him to scorch the earth in a way that damages Clinton’s prospects in November should she win the nomination.

Democrats begin general election campaigns with a big structural Electoral College advantage. But they forfeit this edge if progressive voters elect to stay home. The party cannot afford to have Sanders supporters — if their candidate loses — licking their wounds and nursing their grievances.

It ought to be hard for the eventual Democratic nominee to lose. More Clinton-Sanders nastiness just might do the trick.

 

By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, April 7, 2016

April 8, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic Presidential Primaries, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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