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“No Cause For All The Fuss”: Bernie Sanders Is No Fool. He’ll Back Clinton When He Drops Out

Eight years ago, I spent an election night in a basement gymnasium in Manhattan, watching Hillary Clinton and her campaign advisers take up residence in a parallel universe.

It was June 3, 2008, and Barack Obama had just clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, making official a victory that had seemed inevitable for months. But Terry McAuliffe, then the campaign chairman and emcee of this Clinton “victory” party, recited a list of Clinton’s primary wins and introduced her as “the next president of the United States.”

Clinton that night made no mention of her defeat, boasting that she won “more votes than any primary candidate in history.”

Yet four days later, Clinton graciously bowed out of the race. In a concession speech at the National Building Museum in Washington, she said she and her supporters would “do all we can to help elect Barack Obama the next president of the United States.” Some in the hall booed — but Clinton delivered her supporters to Obama in November.

Recalling this serene end to the bitter and extended 2008 Democratic primary battle, I’m not inclined to join in all the hand-wringing about the damage Bernie Sanders is doing to Clinton’s chances in November by remaining in the race.

Tempers flared this week after a Sanders supporter, actress Rosario Dawson, mentioned Monica Lewinsky at a campaign rally. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), a Clinton supporter, demanded Sanders tell his supporters “to stop providing aid and comfort to Donald Trump and the Republican Party.”

This, in turn, caused Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver on Tuesday to accuse the Clinton campaign and her supporters of using “language reserved for traitors to our country.”

Why the hysteria? It doesn’t matter if Sanders continues his candidacy until the last votes are cast in June. What matters is that he quits gracefully, and there should be every expectation that he will, for a simple reason: Sanders is not a fool.

Sanders showed no sign of retreat Tuesday night, even as Clinton extended her lead by winning the night’s biggest prize, Pennsylvania, as well as Maryland, Delaware and Connecticut; Sanders won only Rhode Island. He gave a defiant, hour-long speech in which he said he was “taking on the most powerful political organization in America.” The reference to Clinton drew boos.

Sanders sounded like an extortionist Monday night when he said Clinton, if she won the nomination, would have to earn his supporters’ votes by embracing single-payer health care, free college tuition and a carbon tax — all things Clinton rejected in her (successful) campaign against Sanders. But seconds later, Sanders, prodded by the moderator, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, added a qualifier: “I will do everything in my power to make sure that no Republican gets into the White House in this election cycle.”

That’s the crucial part. Sanders wants to exert maximum leverage to the very end to move Clinton toward his populist policies. But he is a practical man, and he certainly doesn’t wish to see a President Trump or President Cruz. This is why there’s no cause for all the fuss over him remaining in the race until he is mathematically eliminated.

Elimination is coming. Even before Clinton padded her lead with Tuesday night’s wins, Sanders needed to win 59 percent of remaining delegates, or 71 percent if you include superdelegates. That isn’t going to happen.

Clinton loyalists worry that Clinton will suffer general-election consequences from Sanders’s suggestions that she is unqualified and in Wall Street’s pocket. It’s true that Trump has echoed these attacks and said he’d like Sanders “to keep going.”

Still, this just doesn’t qualify as ugly campaigning — particularly compared with a Republican race in which candidates have called each other liars and argued about genital size. Or compare it with the Obama-Clinton standoff of 2008 — a much closer contest than this one. At a May 31, 2008, meeting of the Democratic National Committee, the two campaigns clashed with accusations of cheating. There were hecklers, howls and foul language, and extra security had to be called in to keep order. At the time, Clinton aides, sounding much like this year’s Sanders aides, were threatening that Obama “has work to do” to convince Clinton backers to go his way.

But a week later, Clinton was out, and the party was on a path to unity.

And so it will happen this time. Sanders, when he quits the race, can justifiably declare victory in moving the debate — and Clinton — in his direction on trade, Wall Street, income inequality, campaign finance and energy. His campaign has exceeded all expectations, and he isn’t about to jeopardize his movement by handing the presidency to Trump.

 

By: Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, April 26, 2016

May 5, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic Presidential Primaries, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Not All Have Pledged Undying Loyalty”: Sanders’ Celebrity Cohort Split Over “Bernie or Bust!”

After Hillary Clinton’s near-sweep of five states on Tuesday, the Bernie Sanders campaign is in dire straits. While Sanders is still fighting for the nomination, he now trails Clinton in the pledged delegate count by a convincing 327 votes. Still, even if the rest of the primary season goes according to plan for Clinton — as it most likely will — there’s no guarantee that Bernie’s impassioned fans will turn their support to the Democratic nominee.

Enter the “Bernie or Bust” movement, in which the most diehard Sanders fans have announced their intention to stay home on election day, or vote for someone else, rather than supporting Hillary Clinton. This crusade is picking up steam, especially among Sanders’ celebrity devotees.

Susan Sarandon was among the first of Sanders’ Hollywood spokespeople to push for this ultimatum. Back in March, she made headlines with a controversial MSNBC interview in which she hinted — though she disputed such accusations later — that Donald Trump might “bring the revolution” if Sanders failed to attain the nomination. Then, during an appearance last Wednesday on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, she said “I’m more afraid of, actually, Hillary Clinton’s war record and her hawkishness than I am of building a wall.” Though she also added, “but that doesn’t mean I would vote for Trump.”

Actress Rosario Dawson has been one of Sander’s leading advocates throughout this cycle. While she hasn’t aligned herself with the #BernieOrBust hashtag movement on Twitter, many recent posts criticize Clinton’s political record while boldly reaffirming Sander’s slogan #NotMeUs. Should Dawson throw a vote Clinton’s way come November, expect it to be cast with far less social media fanfare than we’re used to seeing from her, or maybe just a frowning emoji.

Still, not all of Sanders’ famous friends have pledged their undying loyalty to him. Last week on Real Time with Bill Maher, the brazenly liberal host tore into Sanders supporters who claim they’d rather vote for Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton. After outlining key differences between a Trump and Clinton presidency, Maher proclaimed, “That’s your choice. Don’t be assholes about it.”

The original Star Trek’s George Takei, a self proclaimed “fan of Bernie Sanders” posted a video on Wednesday to promote a new slogan, #VoteBlueNoMatterWho. Calling upon his fellow Democrats to be realists, Takei argued that Sanders had still won through his invigoration of the progressive left, and reminded viewers that the Vermont Senator himself had said that Clinton would be a far superior choice to any Republican candidate.

Author Anne Rice withstood a flurry of online attacks and insults Tuesday night after posting an anti-Sanders status on her Facebook page. Rice, who months ago touted Sanders as the superior Democratic candidate, wrote, “I’m very sorry I ever contributed a nickel to Bernie’s campaign. I had no idea his followers would become obstructionist and go to the depths they have with the politics of personal destruction. They’re worse than Republicans.” The post has since been removed.

 

By: Dan Fitzpatrick, The National Memo, May 2, 2016

May 3, 2016 Posted by | Bernie or Bust, Bernie Sanders, Sanders Supporters | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Bad Luck Bears”: Bernie Sanders; From The Guys Who Brought You George W. Bush

The team that brought you the George W. Bush administration in 2000 has gathered behind a new candidate: Bernie Sanders.

A host of prominent Ralph Nader backers has joined team Sanders in 2016, excited by his message discipline and aggressive fight against the establishment powers that be.

In the Democratic socialist from Vermont, they see a flag-bearer for the same issues while the Democratic establishment views him as a persistent pest who is raking in money by the fistful without a clear and obvious path to the nomination.

And the same way that Nader’s staunchest supporters had no kind words for the eventual nominee then-Vice President Al Gore, some of Sanders’s surrogates are spending their time bashing Hillary Clinton, making it even more difficult for the party faithful to rally around him.

Throughout Nader’s consecutive failed presidential bids, he picked up a cadre of high-profile endorsers ranging from actress Susan Sarandon to academic Cornel West. The rest of the roster backing both men includes actor Danny Glover, former National Nurses United Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro, musicians Ani DiFranco and Bonnie Raitt, country singer Willie Nelson, and Ben Cohen, one of the founders of Ben & Jerry’s, just to name a few.

“There are some pretty obvious parallels,” Oliver Hall, Nader’s lawyer and long-time friend said in an interview with The Daily Beast.

While the players on the bench supporting these candidates are remarkably similar, so far Sanders hasn’t drawn the collective ire of the Democratic Party quite nearly as much as Nader did. His campaign did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast.

After all, many personally blamed Nader for pulling Democratic votes away from Gore in 2000—ushering in Bush.

It’s tough to blame them for being angry. Bush edged out Gore by 537 votes, while Nader—the Green Party candidate—took over 97,000 votes in Florida, which Democrats thought could have tipped the scales in Gore’s favor.

The spoiler effect, a term ascribed to 1992 candidate Ross Perot, was redubbed as “The Nader Effect,” used as shorthand for a candidate that is going nowhere spoiling an election for a like-minded but more viable party nominee.

Nader has been adamant that he is not the one to blame, writing in 2004 on his presidential campaign site, that his voters wouldn’t have swung the election in Gore’s favor.

“In the year 2000, exit polls reported that 25% of my voters would have voted for Bush, 38% would have voted for Gore and the rest would not have voted at all,” he wrote.

The 2000 campaign efforts (some of which were led by his own supporters) to get Nader to drop out fell on deaf ears.

And 16 years later, a much more successful candidate has no interest in cutting his bid short either—despite almost daily urging from the Democratic establishment.

But still, the longer Sanders has stuck around the more he appears to get under Hillary Clinton’s skin.

Now the winner of 14 states, including a surprise victory in Michigan, Sanders is frequently painted as a message candidate spoiling the prospects of an establishment Democrat looking to finally secure the nomination after falling short eight years ago.

His staunch opposition to the Iraq War, something for which Clinton voted, and support for a single-payer healthcare program mirror some of the central tenets of Nader’s campaign.

Hall told The Daily Beast that the similarities between the candidates are apparent and even now he’s still tired of hearing that the latter is the reason Bush won in 2000.

“It’s ridiculous and pathetic,” he said in a phone interview. “If the Democratic Party is a serious organization, they need to tolerate free discussion of ideas.”

He contended that the same people who have accused Nader of indirectly leading the United States into its worst war since Vietnam are the ones imploring people to vote for Hillary Clinton this year.

“When Nader ran as a third party candidate, everybody attacked him,” Hall said. “Now they’re attacking Sanders for running as a Democrat.”

And as Sanders continues to exceed expectations in the primary, currently leading Clinton by a small margin in Wisconsin—the next contest—Hall questioned the former secretary of state’s strength as a candidate.

“How good of a candidate can Hillary Clinton be if she can’t handle debate in the primary election process? That’s the entire purpose of a primary election.”

And his endorsers have taken note.

West, a prominent academic and progressive Democratic stalwart, backed Ralph Nader in 2000 before giving Sanders his blessing in 2015. Once Gore was the nominee, he chastised him for picking Senator Joseph Lieberman as his running mate given his opposition to affirmative action. West referred to it as “an act of disrespect to the black community,” according to a 2000 article in the Chicago Tribune.

Earlier this year, West wrote an op-ed for Politico describing Sanders as being “better for black people” than Clinton.

West has not responded to a request for comment from The Daily Beast.

Sarandon, another Sanders backer who recently drew controversy for suggesting that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump might be ultimately better for the United States than Clinton, was also all in for Nader in the past. She served as the national co-chair for Nader’s steering committee in 2000 and was named as a plaintiff in a lawsuit he filed against the Federal Election Commission which alleged that corporations sponsoring debates could constitute as illegal corporate campaign contributions.

Documentarian Michael Moore also endorsed both candidates. In September 2000, he appeared at a fundraiser upon the Green Party candidate’s behalf, dispelling the idea that Nader was a spoiler in the race.

“A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush?” Moore said at the time. “No, a vote for Gore is a vote for Bush. A vote for Bush is a vote for Bush. A vote for Nader is a political Molotov.”

In 2000, Sanders publicly vouched for Nader himself, while the latter campaigned in Vermont.

“He’s an old-fashioned guy who believes that maybe the ordinary people should be running this country rather than the multinational corporations,” Sanders said introducing Nader at an event, according to an AP story at the time.

Sanders’s national spokesperson Symone Sanders also previously worked as a communications officer for the Ralph Nader-founded organization Public Citizen.

He changed his tune by 2004 though when Nader tried to run again, saying “virtually the entire progressive movement is not going to be supportive of Nader,” according to an AP story.

“We’ve got to come together to defeat George Bush, we have to develop a strong progressive movement to make sure we make the changes in this country that we need,” Sanders said in 2004. “But our main task right now is to defeat Bush and I think Nader’s effort could have some impact in dividing up that vote and that’s a negative thing.”

Nader himself did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast but he has expressed support for Sanders’s candidacy and his ideas.

The animosity between Nader and Gore supporters that bubbled up in the 2000 general election is already stewing in a similar capacity in the 2016 Democratic primary with surrogates like Sarandon and actress Rosario Dawson criticizing Clinton and the big-money interests they contend she stands for.

“Shame on you,” Dawson said referring to Clinton at a recent rally in New York. “I don’t have to vote against someone; I can vote for someone who’s on our side.”

She went on to criticize President Obama at a Harlem town hall days later, suggesting that he wasn’t able to keep up momentum to elicit big turnout in the 2014 midterm elections.

Another Sanders surrogate, rapper Killer Mike, got into similar hot water for quoting activist Jane Elliott’s line in February saying: “A uterus doesn’t qualify you to be president of the United States.” Implicit in the remark was not sexism, but rather that gender should not determine who one votes for.

The difference, of course, compared to the fervor around Nader is that these conflicts of opinion are not necessarily going to negatively impact the chances of a Democratic president being in the White House next year.

But from the start, Sanders’s campaign was concerned about appearing like just another Nader.

“The one thing he’s determined not to do is to be another Ralph Nader,” adviser Tad Devine said in April, 2015 as Sanders was preparing to announce his candidacy. “And the only way to avoid doing that is to avoid being a third-party candidate from the left in the general election.”

Time will tell if that promise holds up.

 

By: Gideon Resnick, The Daily Beast, April 5, 2016

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, George W Bush, Ralph Nader | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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