Blame Bernie! is already taking shape

Associated Press photo

The Billarybots actually are arguing that Billary Clinton would be more progressive if only Bernie Sanders had endorsed her already. This ignores Billary’s entire political history, such as her calling herself “moderate and center” less than a year ago and her consistent center-right stance of incrementalism, since that’s what those who fund her want. This is just a precursor to the Billarybots/Democratic Party hacks blaming Bernie when Billary, a weak and widely despised presidential candidate, loses to Donald Trump in November. It wasn’t Billary’s fault! Blame Bernie!

Early in his campaign for the White house, left-wing naysayers said of Bernie Sanders that of course he would end up selling out, betraying the Democratic Party’s (arguably) progressive base and endorsing Billary Clinton.

Some even more or less accused him of intending to herd all of his duped lefty supporters into the center-right Clinton camp from Day One.

Now, Bernie is being criticized for not endorsing Billary soon enough.

Centrist Joan Walsh, who now inexplicably writes for the left-wing The Nation and whose every article should include the disclaimer that she’s been a staunch Billarybot for years now, opines that “Sanders risks weakening his negotiating position by delaying to endorse Clinton, while insisting she and the party accept his every campaign plank, including a single-payer health-care system, a fracking ban, and an aggressive promise by Democrats not to vote for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

Rightas soon as Bernie finally raises that white flag, Queen Billary and her courtiers are going to listen to him and give him much (or even most!) of what he wants. Right!

Because Billary’s polling against Donald Trump has been better as of late — the two had been statistically tied not long ago, but now the Huffington Post’s average of recent match-up polls has Billary at 7 percent ahead of Trump and Real Clear Politics’ average of those polls similarly shows Billary at 6.8 percent head of Trump (still way too close for my comfort) — Slate.com’s Jamelle Bouie recently concluded that “Sanders’ endorsement [of Billary] isn’t irrelevant, but it now carries less weight, and the leverage he held at the end of the primary just isn’t there anymore.”

Again: Oh, please.

Once it became clear that Billary was going to be the nominee (after the primary-election voting on June 7, in which Bernie lost the biggest prize, California), Bernie never was going to have a real voice or real leverage. Even before then he was well neutered by the party establishment.

Take the Democratic Party platform committee, for instance. As I have noted, Bernie got to pick five members of the committee, but Billary got to pick six and Billarybot Debbie Wasserman Schultz got to pick four, making Bernie’s influence just one-third of the 15-member committee and Billary’s two-thirds of the membership of the committee, since the corrupt, partial Wasserman Schultz is Billary’s conjoined twin. I mean, please. Billary quite effectively has 10 people on the platform-writing committee, so let’s cut the fucking bullshit.

Under a fair arrangement, Bernie would have received representation on the platform committee reflective of the percentage of the pledged delegates that he earned in the primaries and caucuses — 45.5 percent, which would be seven members on the 15-member platform committee. And this blatantly unfair arrangement was decided even before The Associated Press announced on June 6 that Billary had it all sewn up.

The platform committee is going as I had expected it to, given the way that the deck was stacked against Bernie (two-to-one). Environmentalist and activist Bill McKibben, one of Bernie’s picks on the committee, writes for Politico:

The Democratic platform process is finally underway, and the main issue is this: Did the campaign of Bernie Sanders really alter the Democratic Party? The answer is not yet entirely clear, but on many key issues so far the Hillary Clinton campaign has been unwilling to commit to delivering specifics about fundamental change in America, which have been at the heart of Sanders’ campaign.

I’ve had a front-row seat to the first round of the process, as one of five delegates Sanders named to draft the platform. (The Clinton campaign named six, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee, added four more.) We spent two weeks listening to powerful testimony from citizens around the country, and then on Friday in St. Louis we started taking votes.

And it was there that the essential dynamic quickly emerged. The Clinton campaign was ready to acknowledge serious problems: We need fair trade policy, inequality is a horrible problem, and unchecked climate change will wreck the planet. But when it came to specific policy changes, they often balked. Amendments against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and backing Medicare for all failed, with all the Clinton delegates voting against.

At which point we got (about 11 p.m., in a half-deserted hotel ballroom) to the climate section of the platform, and that’s where things got particularly obvious. We all agreed that America should be operating on 100 percent clean energy by 2050, but then I proposed, in one amendment after another, a series of ways we might actually get there. A carbon tax? Voted down 7-6 (one of the DNC delegates voted with each side). A ban on fracking? Voted down 7-6. An effort to keep fossils in the ground, at least on federal land? Voted down 7-6. A measure to mandate that federal agencies weigh the climate impact of their decisions? Voted down 7-6. Even a plan to keep fossil fuel companies from taking private land by eminent domain, voted down 7-6. (We did, however, reach unanimous consent on more bike paths!)

In other words, the Clinton campaign is at this point rhetorically committed to taking on our worst problems, but not willing to say how. Which is the slightly cynical way politicians have addressed issues for too long — and just the kind of slickness that the straightforward Sanders campaign rejected.

Happily, the process is only one-third complete. And Team Sanders has claimed some victories: a strong stand against the death penalty, for instance, and remarkable in-depth language on Native American rights. Now the platform discussion heads to Orlando, where 187 delegates will weigh it in more depth. And the issues on which they still can’t agree can then be raised on the convention floor in Philadelphia.

To some, the point of the whole exercise is unclear. Platforms don’t matter, right? But this is a new kind of election: The Sanders campaign has been about issues, issues, issues. I mean, the guy gives 90-minute speeches every day that are entirely about actual things that need to change. It seems weird in an American political context, which is normally about posturing and spin, but for many of us it’s refreshing.

… We need unions and working people and environmentalists fully engaged this time around, backing the Democrats with passion and energy. Above all we need young people, who voted for Bernie by a 7-to-1 proportion.

Which is why we need not platitudes but a platform. Not aspirations but commitments. Not happy talk, but the fully adult conversation that Sanders engaged the country in for the past year. [Fellow platform committee member] Cornel West, with his usual succinct eloquence, said that in the end the platform debate came down to telling the truth. The truth is, we’re in a world of hurt. That hurt — economic, social, environmental — is driving the unsettling politics of our moment. That hurt needs to be addressed.

Orlando and Philly are the two places left where that can happen; I’m willing to bet the platform will get substantially stronger before all is said and done, because I think the Sanders run really has changed the party, and very much for the better.

McKibben weirdly makes it sound pretty dire — he makes it sound as though the Clinton hacks (redundant…) on the platform committee already have taken all of the Dalmation puppies for their boss (because they have) — but then he ends his screed on a note of hopefulness. (Yeah, sorry, but after years of President Hopey-Changey, I’m all outta hope. [And no, I’m not actually sorry.])

“On those points that are more contentious [on the platform committee], Team Sanders has lost out,” Bouie notes. “The platform committee has rejected Sanders’ language on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, his stance against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, his call for a carbon tax, and his total opposition to fracking.”

“Maybe this was inevitable,” Bouie follows up. “Maybe Sanders was never going to have the full stamp he clamored for simply on account of having lost.”

Gee, do ya think? (And maybe Sanders’ weakness on the platform committee has something to do with how it was set up? Maybe? Just maybe?)

With Repugnican Lite/Democrat in name only Billary Clinton in the White House, we’ve always known what we’d/we’ll get: We commoners get pandered to while the corporations get pampered. We commoners are to indulge in relatively petty identity politics (because that doesn’t cost the corporations and the plutocrats who own them and love them a single fucking dime — and, more importantly, when we commoners are at each others’ throats, we’re not finally coming after our plutocratic overlords with torches and pitchforks). And we commoners are to be “realistic” about what is and isn’t politically possible — while the planet broils and the rich get even richer and the poor get even poorer. Indeed, we are frogs being brought to a boil, and the Repugnican Tea Party traitors couldn’t boil us without the help of the DINOs like Barack Obama and the Clinton dynasty.

We won’t blame Billary & Co. for all of that, though; no, we’ll actually blame Bernie. Had Bernie just endorsed Billary earlier, she would have been the progressive president that she never, ever, ever was going to be in the first fucking place, you see.

Bouie makes the bizarre argument that “Had Sanders endorsed Clinton at the end of the primaries and recalibrated as an advocate for her campaign — in short, had he mimicked [Elizabeth] Warren — he would have gotten ahead of his voters.” And then everyone would have lived happily ever after.

WTF?

Had Sanders endorsed Clinton right at the end of the primaries, he would have been branded a fraud and a turncoat to the progressive movement and potentially would have turned off millions of young, progressive voters from participating in the political process ever again.

You don’t run as The Anti-Clinton and then just up and announce your 180. 

And Bouie praises Elizabeth Warren for now being on Team Billary (as does Walsh), but why has Warren been pretty quiet for most of the past year while Bernie was campaigning his heart out for progressive causes?

Warren very apparently waited until the winner finally emerged and then got on board with the winning team. Gee, that was risky! And courageous!

No, it was much more courageous of Bernie to go ahead and run against Billary, something that Warren wouldn’t have dared to do.

Billary indeed is polling a bit better against Trump these days no doubt in part because she has been able to peel off some of Bernie’s supporters once it was clear that he lost the primary race. (His loss isn’t official, and won’t be official until about a month from now at the convention, but come on; he lost.)

Billary’s doing better against Trump in the match-up polls was inevitable after Bernie didn’t win California on June 7 (probably at least in part because the AP had declared the whole thing over the day before).

The real questions are whether she has peeled off as many of Bernie’s supporters that she should have by now — and how many of Bernie’s supporters she ultimately successfully will have peeled off come Election Day. (As I’ve noted about a bizillion times, I won’t give her my vote or one red cent.)

It’s clear why the blame-Bernie “argument” is emerging now, though: When Billary loses to Donald Trump in November — if for no other reason than that Trump’s voters will be fired up and thus will turn out, while I truly don’t know anyone who is enthusiastic about Billary, and of course enthusiasm drives turnout (fear of Trump, alas, which is all that Team Billary has in its bag of tricks, probably won’t actually drive turnout as much as would actual enthusiasm for Billary) — we will need someone to blame and to scapegoat.

Surely Billary’s being a corrupt, self-serving, center-right sellout whose national favorability ratings still are upside down in the double digits will have nothing to do with her loss in November.

No, the story that will be told of Billary’s loss to Donald Trump in November 2016 is this one:

It was all Bernie’s fault!

P.S. Joan Walsh saved the best for last. She actually argues at the end of her screed that Bernie (not Billary!) must make his supporters love (the unlovable) Billary, and that if he doesn’t, and Billary is “forced” to tack right in the general election — which she was going to do all along anyway — then it’s Bernie’s fault:

… [I]f Clinton is forced to court “Never Trump” Republicans because Sanders delivers a late or half-hearted endorsement, he and his backers will lose some influence politically. There are many Republicans available to Clinton, particularly women, if she decides that’s her best audience.

As one Clinton supporter close to the platform negotiations told me: “It’s really up to him: He can determine if she does this with a progressive mandate, one that she has to be loyal to. But if his voters snub her, and she has to go to anti-Trump Republicans to get to 51 percent, they’ll have much less leverage.”

While I love the apparently unintended admission that Billary Clinton has no core principles but is a human(?) weather vane on crack who will do whatever she perceives to be the most politically expedient, this is stunning insight into the “thought” processes of a typical Billarybot, including the assertion that Billary can do no wrong and that whatever she does, it’s someone else’s fault.

The stunning “feminist” assertion here is that Billary actually has no agency, but that “It’s really up to [Bernie].”

Just: Wow.

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