We’re in the midst of a brief moment in the Democratic primary race when we get to see both the real Bernie Sanders and what Democrats will do to stop him from winning the nomination.
It’s one of those clarifying times when Democrats will acknowledge that Sanders and his beliefs are genuinely obnoxious — at least until Sanders wins the nomination and they back him in lock-step agreement.
Politico published a piece this week titled, “Sanders sends Democratic establishment into panic mode.” In it, they quote multiple party leaders and activists, one of whom said that he’s never “seen this level of doom” in the Democratic Party.
Democratic strategist James Carville also blasted Sanders in an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, saying: “Bernie Sanders says he’s going to ban all fracking, so he’s banning any chance of doing anything, particularly in western and central Pennsylvania. Last time I checked, Florida is a key state, then you say something nice about [former Cuban leader Fidel] Castro.”
Is this the start of some “NeverSanders” movement? I doubt it. I suspect most of these news networks and Democrats will go all-in on Sanders if he wins the nomination.
Indeed, Sanders will always have his true believers in the media, but the rest of them will start as anti-anti-Sanders and go forward from there. It’s a pretty straightforward path to take if Sanders gets the nomination. But for now, we have a glimpse into the Democratic Party’s horror that they could be nominating a geriatric socialist.
And they have reason to be concerned; it’s worth noting that. President Donald Trump has nicknamed Sanders and name-checks him as “Crazy Bernie” in tweets and speeches. It’s not a hyperbolic insult. As Carville noted, just this week, Sanders gave an interview to 60 Minutes wherein he defended positive remarks he made about Fidel Castro, the brutal former communist dictator of Cuba.
Writing in the Miami Herald, a woman who escaped Castro’s version of socialism argued Tuesday that “the ‘free education’ in Cuba isn’t free, and the Castro literacy program the American left has bought into is rooted in indoctrination and devotion to the one-party political system” — i.e., Castro’s communist regime.
It’s easy to have high literacy rates when you systematically erase history before your rise, murder or chase off dissidents, and force everyone to learn the tenents of Marxist-communism. And let’s not forget, this is the same Castro who, during the Kennedy administration, wanted the Soviets to nuke America.
But while Bernie Sanders can’t be bothered to find any negative words toward communist dictators, his tune dramatically changes when he talks about Israel. At the South Carolina debate, Sanders attacked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling him a “reactionary racist.”
As the New York Post‘s John Podhoretz observed, Bernie’s attacks came “in the midst of an evening when he said he opposed ‘authoritarians’ but could not bring himself to say he opposed Communists — because, of course, he didn’t and probably doesn’t.”
And it’s not just that Bernie supports communist regimes with truly evil leaders; he surrounds himself with his own racists. Noah Rothman, laying out the list of associates Bernie Sanders shares, wrote for Commentary magazine: “Sanders clearly evinces some of [Jeremy Corbyn’s] instincts on policy, but his affiliations suggest a similar tolerance for the radical left’s occasionally anti-Semitic indulgences.”
Sanders and his supporters come from the same wing of the Democratic Party that refused to condemn Ilhan Omar’s openly anti-Semitic remarks. As I wrote at the time, “Corbynism has come to America, and the liberals in this country are embracing it. American Jews dealt with the rise of neo-Nazis for the past few years, and now they see anti-Semitism becoming a prominent feature of the Democratic Party.”
It says something about Sanders that he actively searches for good things to say about communist totalitarian governments like China, Cuba, or Venezuela, but can’t find any good in America or Israel. When your perspective is so skewed that you spend your honeymoon in the Soviet Union and come back praising the Soviets for their society in 1988 — just before the Soviet empire collapsed — you’re more than a few french fries short of a Happy Meal.
This is the real Bernie Sanders, though. He’s correct in that he’s never changed; these are his principles.
Of course, in this case, that’s not a compliment — he’s believed and defended awful people and ideas for his entire life. And Bernie Sanders was born in 1941 and is 78 years old; none of these things he’s said or believed are youthful indiscretions. This is simply who he is, he’s never going to change, and Democrats freaking out about him now have missed their chance to kick him out of the contest for more than a year.
I’m glad Democrats see Sanders and his ideas for the threats that they are right now, but it may already be too late. Sanders may be able to get a majority of the delegates or a strong plurality in time for the party’s convention this summer.
By then, will this lucid moment of terror at Sanders still be there, or will politics take over and Democrats line up behind their new leader?
I suspect Democrats will line up and support Sanders. It’s a shame. But I appreciate this moment of honesty while they try to stop him from winning; their fear makes them honest.
It shouldn’t have taken this long or come this far, though. Crazy Bernie has been a known quantity for a long time. His recordings praising Castro confirm that.