The Cardiac Kid

Bernie Sanders has been battling bad news lately. He’s stuck in the polls, or maybe even losing ground. He’s lost the “left/progressive” lead to Elizabeth Warren. He’s had to shake up his campaign organization in crucial states. Key supporters, like the Working Families Party, have abandoned him.

But this morning brings the worst possible headline for Sanders 2020: “Sanders Has Heart Surgery.”

It may well be a blip on the radar, and Bernie may live to be a happy, healthy 120 years old. But he’s the oldest candidate in the race and would be the oldest sitting president at the beginning of his term in office. Medical issues have always been the hidden shoal that could sink his campaign.

And health-wise, he’s on a bad run.

He barely had a voice at the most recent Democratic debate. He canceled some appearances shortly afterward. And now, not only does his campaign have to deal with scary headlines, but he’ll be off the trail “until further notice,” in the words of Sanders consigliere Jeff Weaver.

Which might also be a blip on the radar. If he gets back to full speed within days and maintains a robust schedule, this will be forgotten by the time Iowans head to their caucuses. But if he’s sidelined for a week or more, his people will be answering the same questions every day. The Sanders coverage will be centered entirely on his health. If he can’t resume a full schedule until, say, late October, he may have lost his chance to regain momentum.

We’ve already seen and heard plenty of potential Sanders supporters wonder whether his time has passed. Those concerns will now intensify — even if he returns quickly to the campaign trail.

Fair or not, when you’re a 78-year-old running for the most demanding job in the country, you have to show that you’re up to the job. (Joe Biden faces the same scrutiny.) Sanders can overcome this, but probably not another scare. He’ll to stay energetic for the rest of the campaign. If he has another incident, even if it’s not terribly serious, it might be time to fold the tent and endorse Warren.

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6 thoughts on “The Cardiac Kid

  1. BM

    Joe Biden absolutely does not face the same scrutiny on the age question. People are frequently surprised when I mention that he is about the same age as Bernie. You could take any one of his gaffes from the campaign so far and you could say with certainty that they would have sunk Sanders.

    Reply
  2. kevin kelley

    Your earlier piece on VtDigger’s seemingly contradictory coverage of Sanders’ political fortunes was a welcome example of the press criticism long lacking in Vermont media, alt and otherwise. Peter Freyne used to regularly hold Vt news outlets — mainly the Freeps and WCAX — to account. SInce those days, however, there’s been no Vermont equivalent of the “Press Clips” column amusingly and scathingly penned by Alexander Cockburn in the Village Voice. Here’s hoping The VPO will help fill that void.

    Reply
  3. kjkelley1

    I just posted a comment, John. I hope you’ll make it — poof! — appear soon.

    KJK

    On Wed, Oct 2, 2019 at 5:54 PM The Vermont Political Observer. wrote:

    > John S. Walters posted: ” Bernie Sanders has been battling bad news > lately. He’s stuck in the polls, or maybe even losing ground. He’s lost the > “left/progressive” lead to Elizabeth Warren. He’s had to shake up his > campaign organization in crucial states. Key supporters, like the ” >

    Reply

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