So, Bernie.

I don’t want to sound churlish here, but I probably will. Yesterday’s Bernie Sanders campaign kickoff was a nice event. If nothing else, it was a celebration (and validation) of #FeelTheBern’s unlikely political career; whatever else he accomplishes is gravy. If he can fight the good fight and push progressive issues into the mainstream political discourse, he will have done something meaningful.

My problem is this. In advance of the kickoff, the Vermont media was stuffed to the gunnels with Bernie coverage. The most ardent Bernie outlets were the Burlington Free Press and VPR, which previewed the event as though it was a combination of the Gettysburg Address and Woodstock. Both outlets posted previews entitled “What You Need to Know About Sanders’ Campaign Kickoff” or something like that. To which my response was, “I don’t need to know anything about that.”

Nothing against Bernie. I just can’t get excited about an opening gambit in a year-and-a-half-long process. And I can’t get excited about reading endless, breathless Bernie coverage. I already know what I need to know about the man and his politics.

For the Vermont media, Bernie’s presidential bid is the best kind of clickbait. It draws eyeballs AND it’s certifiably “important” in journalistic terms. There’s a corner of the editorial heart that curdles a little bit whenever they have to post another Heady Topper piece or foodie listicle; when they can have their clickbait cake and eat it too, as with Bernie, well, it’s open season.

After the last few days of #BernieBernieBernie, I’m already tired of it. And I’m sure I’ll be reading a whole lot more over the next year or so.

Well, actually, I won’t be reading it; I’ll be skipping over the Bernie coverage and looking for other news.

As for this blog, I’ll write about Bernie on occasion, when the spirit moves. But I won’t be following his every move, posting his every press release, or seeking his comment on campaign happenings. There’s not enough hours in the day, and there’s lots of other stuff to write about.

3 thoughts on “So, Bernie.

  1. brucepost

    I generally share your sentiments here, especially the first paragraph. My wife and I were on the periphery of the crowd, on the lakeshore and upwind. Therefore, it was difficult to hear more than the occasional sentence or two.

    Having done some speechwriting for a few ‘pols in my time, I felt the speech was tooooooo looooonnngggg. You mentioned the Gettysburg Address. That was about 271 words long and lasted just a few minutes. Bernie’s speech was apparently 3,446 words long and lasted, from what I read, about 38 minutes, although it felt longer.

    I am a bit skeptical about political speeches. You might remember, depending on your age, Mario Cuomo’s rather electrifying “Tale of Two Cities” speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention. It was sheer music to the ears. Yet, a few years later, I happened to have coffee with the late Washington Post political reporter David Broder at the Dunkin’ Donuts on Williston Road in South Burlington. He told me that Mario, despite his excellent rhetoric, had no future as a presidential candidate because “he had no feel for America.” Broder thought that, once beyond the confines of his geographic comfort zone, Cuomo would not resonate with Americans. In the end, the speech had a longer shelf life than did Cuomo’s career.

    I never saw Obama’s 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote and have studiously avoided reading or listening to it since. It was his very visible and obviously successful introduction to the nation. And, unlike Cuomo, he made it to the White House. I voted for the guy in 2008, but I remember thinking, great speech or not, “this guy has come too far too fast and that he is a product of a truly corrupt political system in Chicago and Illinois. I don’t think he is what people think he is.”

    So, back to Bernie, I give him credit for running and for articulating some important issues. I hope he can find the necessary money to stay in the campaign for a while. I think Hillary Clinton frankly would like that. As for the fixation of the Vermont media on yesterday’s event, that is to be expected, but like you, I am not interested in snapping up every tidbit on the Bernie Beat.

    Even more, I have already tuned out the constant drip-drip-drip Chinese water torture of Hillary Clinton coverage, almost 24/7. Man alive. Mao once spoke and wrote about the “continuous revolution.” In America, we have the continuous campaign. It makes me think of Macbeth’s closing to his famous soliloquy: “it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” (Gosh, haven’t the Republicans already cornered the market on this?)

    Obviously, the Macbeth allusion is a bit hyperbolic. The issues we face are significantly more than nothing, and Bernie is not an idiot. He, probably because he is such an underdog, is well-positioned to raise many of these matters. Yet, I find myself perhaps too irretrievably estranged from American political discourse and its bipartisan disconnection from reality to spend too much time with it.

    Thanks for the platform to post my rant!

  2. Fred Woogmaster

    Bernie Sanders is steadfast in his determination to level the playing field, attain equal justice, and restore fundamental fairness to our dissipating Democracy. His candidacy IS a big deal for me and I believe a big deal for Vermont. Voters in Vermont have made him the longest serving Independent in Congress by overwhelming margins .

    Churlish? Not for me to say. Silly (unwarranted) criticism of “the press” in this instance? I think so.

    Bernie IS a national phenomenon. His message is constant and compelling, like him or not. His message could “go viral”. The internet has altered the game.

    Although fairness may never be achieved and equal justice may never be attained – I will be forever grateful to Bernie Sanders for courageously speaking truth to power and for those journalists who recognize that courage.

    Free speech? Precious! Thank you.


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