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.
So, Bernie Sanders has launched his post-candidacy organization. “Our Revolution” is having a troubled birth, what with half the staff quitting over the weekend after Sanders parachuted his campaign manager Jeff Weaver into the top spot. Apparently some people don’t like Weaver and, more importantly, question his older-school approach to organizing (and the group’s dark-money approach to fundraising).
This storm will quickly pass. But if the history of progressive politics is anything to judge by, it’s an example of the kind ot stuff Bernie will have to deal with, and it won’t be easy.
Because nobody’s more capable of generating destructive internal strife than the American left. Sooner or later, the Purity Wars break out. Everyone’s got a pet cause or bug in the bonnet. Axes abound, and they all seem to require grinding.
Fun fact: When you Google “Has Bernie Sanders Endorsed Matt,” it autofills “Has Bernie Sanders Endorsed Mattresses.”
Unfortunately, the search results don’t shed any light on whether Bernie has sold out to Big Serta, or if he prefers the versatility of a Sleep Number. (Heck, for all I know he’s still rockin’ the waterbed.)
I discovered this irrelevant factoid when trying to find out if Bernie has ever endorsed Matt Dunne for governor. The answer, once I undid the autofill, is apparently no. Dunne endorsed Bernie very early in his campaign for governor, and has lashed himself to the rhetorical mast of the S.S. Sanders, but the Junior Senator has not returned the favor.
Dunne did manage to bag Bernie’s campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, whose endorsement was announced today by the Dunne campaign.
Which begs the question, What About Bernie?
Well, I was wrong.
Recently, I was critical of the Bernie Sanders campaign for endangering a possible New Hampshire debate by insisting on a further expansion of the debate schedule.
And last night, the Democratic National Committee capitulated.
“Our Democratic candidates have agreed in principle to having the DNC sanction and manage additional debates in our primary schedule, inclusive of New Hampshire this week,” [DNC Chair and Representative Debbie] Wasserman Schultz said in the statement.
Mighty white of her, considering that she had stubbornly resisted any changes to the previously agreed debate schedule. I don’t know if it was Jeff Weaver’s persuasive charm, or party leaders finally realizing they’d shot themselves in the foot with a minimal and weirdly-scheduled slate of debates. But something finally penetrated the DNC’s shields.
For months, the Bernie Sanders campaign has been complaining about the lack of debates and their odd placement in low-viewership time slots. But this week, the New Hampshire Union Leader and MSNBC pulled a nice little jiu-jitsu move, inviting the three Dems to an unsanctioned debate next week, just before the #fitn primary.
Martin O’Malley leapt at the chance. The Hillary Clinton camp, rather surprisingly, said she would participate if Bernie Sanders also accepted.
And Bernie said “No.”
I don’t get it. The door was open to a debate in weeknight prime time, at the very peak of interest in the early primaries… and he backed away.
Bernie’s calling for a political revolution. That isn’t the act of a proud revolutionary. It’s the act of a political operative playing the angles.