Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Other Side: Berning Up The Charts

Republican pundits seem really, really interested in seeing Bernie Sanders as the Democratic candidate, the way our side seems very eager to see Donald Trump running for the GOP in 2016. John Podhoretz suddenly loves the guy after Sunday's debate.

On health care, Clinton seemed to walk into a trap. She found herself defending the charge made (by her daughter!) that Bernie Sanders would dismantle ObamaCare.

He made incredibly short work of that by saying that he voted for ObamaCare and simply wants it to be the opening step toward what he calls “Medicare For All” — meaning a single-payer government health care system.

Once again, the fact that Hillary wasn’t comfortable taking that idea on directly shows the weakness of her anti-populist approach. She would say only that to raise new health care ideas would open a can of worms in 2017 that would give Republicans a way to abolish ObamaCare.

That criticism makes no sense. After all, the scenario she was addressing would involve Sanders having been elected president and sitting in the White House — which would mean he would have veto authority over any such Republican action and that the country had decided in 2016 to move farther to the left in any case.

Sanders raised $37 million last quarter, more than Clinton did and with more individual donations than any candidate before him in American history. That has strengthened him as a candidate and it emboldened him as a debater.

Hillary’s defenders will doubtless be spinning frantically over the next few days, but anyone who says she won last night is either deluding themselves or trying to delude you.

Now, let's go over this here.  J-Pod seems to think Medicare for all is a winning hand for Bernie, and seems to believe his large number of individual donors makes him "strong" and emboldened".  He really wants Bernie Sanders to beat Hillary Clinton, someone he seems to think will soon be indicted by the FBI anyhow.

If all this strikes you as weird, backhanded, and just plain suspicious, there's a good reason for that, and as Martin Longman points out, trusting your instinct on Bernie's chances in the general may be a smart move.

So, what we’re seeing here is that Sanders might be able to win the Democratic nomination while bearing the socialist label, but that it’s not exactly a big plus for him. And we have little evidence to show that he’d find easy rowing in the general election.

I’m not sure that Gov. John Kasich is justified in being so confident that Sanders would lose all 50 states, but I also don’t think David Atkins is justified in his confidence that Sanders would do just fine and have no negative impact on down-ballot races.

I think Atkins wrote a well-reasoned piece, and I’m not going to rebut it in full here. What I will say is that Sanders hasn’t been put through the meat grinder yet. He may look more electable than Hillary in a couple of recent polls and his policies may poll well in the abstract, but that’s just preliminary data that should be encouraging to Sanders’ supporters but shouldn’t give anyone the idea that these questions have been settled.

Socialism is still a dirty word, even if it isn’t anywhere near as dirty as it used to be, and even if the post-Cold War kids aren’t conditioned against it. If Sanders is the nominee, the Republicans and their big business allies will spend north of a billion dollars trying to make “socialism” less popular than Windows Vista.

Maybe this anti-socialism campaign will have no more effect than Jeb Bush’s spending seems to have, but there is a difference. Jeb is one candidate in a crowded field, not the nominee facing off against a single Democratic opponent.

And, then, since political reporters never lose their jobs, most of them are old enough to remember the Cuban Missile Crisis and good James Bond movies. They think that they know what this country will and won’t tolerate, and it won’t tolerate socialism via Vermont.

I'd love to see Bernie win *if* he could pull off his agenda.  But unless we get a Dem House and 60 solid Dems in the Senate, it's going to get blocked.

And I see Republican really, really, really want Hillary to lose.  That tells me something.

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