Barack Obama apparently has indirectly endorsed Billary Clinton as his successor, but most of Bernie Sanders’ supporters are just as through with the center-right Obama as they are with the center-right Billary and want to take the Democratic Party back to its progressive roots, so will Obama’s quasi-endorsement actually help Billary much? We’ll find out a week from today, when Iowans caucus; right now, Bernie and Billary are neck-and-neck in the first state to weigh in in the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primary season.
Apparently we Berners were just dying to know what President Barack Obama thinks of the race for the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination.
“Bernie [Sanders] came in with the luxury of being a complete long shot and just letting loose,” Obama told Politico in a podcast. “I think Hillary came in with the both privilege — and burden — of being perceived as the front-runner … You’re always looking at the bright, shiny object that people haven’t seen before — that’s a disadvantage to her.”
“One thing everybody understands is that this job right here, you don’t have the luxury of just focusing on one thing,” Obama also said, apparently a reference to Bernie Sanders’ dogged focus on income inequality.
(Obama also made what strikes me as a surprisingly sexist comment about Billary: “She had to do everything that I had to do [in the 2008 primary race], except, like Ginger Rogers, backwards in heels. She had to wake up earlier than I did because she had to get her hair done. [WTF?] She had to, you know, handle all the expectations that were placed on her.”)
Anyway, Bernie Sanders needs no lectures or lessons from Barack Obama, and we Berners know exactly the difference between Bernie Sanders on one hand and Billary Clinton and Obama on the other: Obama in 2008 campaigned much like Bernie is campaigning now, with ubiquitous, unrelenting promises of “hope” and “change,” but once we progressives put Obama into office, he governed like a Clinton — a center-right sellout.
We Berners get that, and in Bernie Sanders we see the potential president that Obama promised to be but never has been. (And we see Billary as Even More of the Same.)
Far from being a “bright, shiny object that people haven’t seen before,” Bernie has substance, whereas it’s Billary who constantly is trying to divert the voters’ attention to other, shiny objects, to anything but herself, her character and her record. Her coziness with Wall Street? 9/11! An attack on her is an attack on Barack Obama! Bernie has attacked Planned Parenthood! Bernie actually is part of the establishment! Quick! Look! Over there!
Bernie has lofty ambitions, but having been in Congress since 1991, I think he knows much more about its workings than did Obama when he became president — Obama had been in Congress (the U.S. Senate) for only four years before he was elevated to the White House. He hadn’t completed even one full term as U.S. senator.
Bernie has been the longest-serving independent (a self-described democratic socialist) in the history of Congress, having served in the House of Representatives from 1991 through 2006 and having served as a U.S. senator since 2007. I’m sure he knows what it’s like to feel to be at least somewhat on the outside looking in, but with the passage of time, his brand of progressively populist politics has become more and more popular.
Bernie always has been ahead of his time, and time will tell whether or not the nation’s electorate finally has caught up to Bernie.
It’s interesting for Obama to apparently refer to Bernie as a “bright, shiny object that people haven’t seen before” when in 2008 that’s exactly what Obama was, replete with dreams from his father and the audacity of hope. When he first ran for the White House, Obama hadn’t accomplished anything other than having given a lauded speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, when he still was a state senator in Illinois. (At that time he was running for the U.S. Senate, but hadn’t been elected to it yet.)
It’s true that Bernie Sanders has focused like a laser on income inequality. Aside from climate change, that probably is our No. 1 problem, so I’m fine with Sanders’ having focused on it. I don’t believe that he’s a one-trick pony, that as president he couldn’t and/or wouldn’t tackle any other issue; I believe that he’s just been like a dog that won’t let go of that bone, and in this case it’s a good thing.
Obama conveniently omits the fact that Billary is a scandal magnet and that there’s no corporation that she doesn’t love (as long as it gives her campaign contributions, anyway). And he omits the fact that people just don’t like her (which isn’t true of Bernie).
And the American electorate has had it with political dynasties, which is why Jeb! Bush never will be president, and why Billary just might lose both Iowa and New Hampshire here in the near future, sending her campaign into a tailspin from which it will only crash and burn, à la 2008.
Yes, Real Clear Politics’ average of Iowa polls right now has Bernie at 0.8 percent ahead of Billary, while Huffington Post’s average of Iowa polls right now has Billary over Bernie by 1 percent. They’re quite neck-and-neck in Iowa, apparently, and so there’s a good chance that Bernie will take Iowa a week from today, and if he does, he almost certainly will take New Hampshire, where RCP now has him up over Billary by 12.8 percent and HuffPo has him up over her by 12 percent.
Obama had said that he wouldn’t endorse in the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primary, but in effect, he just has. And if Bernie wins the party’s presidential nomination, it will demonstrate that the center-right Obama is just as out of step with the Democratic voters as is Billary.
Thing is, Obama’s brand of Democrat (just barely to the left of Billary) apparently is on the way out, so it’s not like his indirect endorsement of Billary is going to help her. The hopey-changey Obama is not a whole lot more popular among us Berners than Billary is.
We’re still hungry for that hope and change that Obama only promised us. He cynically gave up (if he ever even had meant to even try to carry through on his campaign promises of 2008 at all), but we haven’t.
“Yes, we can!” Obama had proclaimed in 2008, and it’s Bernie Sanders’ message today.
Now, along with Billary, Obama is proclaiming, “No, we can’t!” He’s actually telling us that Billary Clinton is the best that we can do.
We’ll see which message wins Iowa a week from now.