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So What Would Happen if Bernie Sanders Won?

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Let’s consider a hypothetical. What if Bernie Sanders became president? It’s hardly impossible. If he wins in Iowa and New Hampshire and then either in South Carolina or Nevada, he could well be the nominee with the momentum that would create. If Donald Trump or Ted Cruz is the Republican nominee, which seems likely, then given the utter detestability of the Republican ticket, Sanders could win.

So then what? What does a Sanders presidency look like? I doubt it looks all the great. I have two primary concerns. First, what is the most important thing a president does? Is it leadership? Is it giving speeches? Is it proposing legislation? No, it is none of these things. The most important thing a president does is make appointments to offices and judgeships. That’s because a) appointments are really important and b) presidents are highly constrained by Congress so their personal agenda has only a limited ability to be implemented. That’s less true for foreign policy, but then foreign affairs is not Sanders’ strong suit. As many have said, what Sanders says he will immediately change, he really can’t. The president simply does not control economic policy to this extent. I don’t get the sense yet that Sanders is really thinking about what a Sanders presidency would look like. The Obama administration made a big mistake in taking too much time to get appointments made in the first year and he had prime-time political operatives working for him. So this is a concern. Or I guess a cluster of concerns about Sanders’ ability to govern and prioritizing where he actually move toward the changes he wants to see.

But I think my bigger concern about a Sanders presidency is that his base would almost certainly abandon him within a year. The left has learned nothing since 2008. In that year, the left looked at Obama as its savior. This was ridiculous if you looked at his record, which was of course much more slim than Bernie Sanders in 2016. But Obama spoke inspiring words about hope and change that people very much wanted to hear. His campaign became not just another campaign but a social movement. The left believed Obama would bring about radical change in all phases of the government. Remember the hopes that maybe Obama would name Michael Pollan as Secretary of Agriculture and he would fix our food system? Those were heady times!

Of course once Senator Obama became President Obama and he had to compromise with his own cranky caucus, not to mention racebaiting Republicans, he was almost immediately abandoned by the left. By the summer of 2009, many on the left had given up on Obama. We saw what happened in the 2010 midterms. By that point, Obama was just another sellout mainstream corporate Democrat. Which might even be true to some extent, but a mainstream Democrat is all he ever was. Even on his mainstream positions though, he had to engage in deep compromises. Yet that still created the ACA, a very real policy achievement that makes Obama the most successful liberal president since Lyndon Johnson.

But the abandonment of Obama is not the only relevant example here. Because look what has happened with Bill DeBlasio. As I have discussed before, overall, DeBlasio has put together a pretty impressive record in his first two years of mayor. Not perfect, but not bad. And yet wide swaths of the New York left think DeBlasio is a massive sellout! I know that picking a random Huffington Post piece is shooting fish in a barrel, but this is actually a relatively mild condemnation of DeBlasio’s term.

Quite frankly, I am flabbergasted that de Blasio is delusional enough to start fund raising now (to dismal success) for reelection. Mr. Mayor, with all due respect, you need to actually accomplish something in your first term, and get the people to view you as a leader before you start aiming for the brass ring again. Your time is running out to actually make any kind of an impact… and we don’t find using your mayoral time to fund raise, relentlessly chase press, and strategize all day long about how you’re going to take down your opponent very amusing.

Do you realize how much could get accomplished if these politicians spent more time actually working for the people, and less time trying to take each other down, plant “blind source” items, and go dirty dancing for donor dollars all day long?

Here’s another example:

A racist police commissioner. Bloombergian gentrification. Failure to eradicate horse-drawn carriages.

The grievances were scattershot for the several dozen protesters circling outside the first fundraiser of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s re-election campaign tonight, but they were plenty furious. A loose confederation of liberal animal rights, anti-police brutality and pro-Palestinian activists united at the Sheraton near Times Square to send a single message: we do not want Mr. de Blasio, who won a 2013 election as a proud liberal, as our mayor anymore.

“Bill de Blasio is a sell-out. Bill de Blasio is a fake progressive and we want to make sure he doesn’t even have a chance of being able to continue to do the things he’s been doing here,” said Josmar Trujillo, the leader of a group that aggressively opposes Mr. de Blasio’s police commissioner, Bill Bratton.

“Whether it’s the addition of extra cops at taxpayer money, whether it’s privatization of NYCHA [New York City Housing Authority] land, whether it’s his real estate-friendly rezoning plans that are being opposed in community board after community board–all these things are basically reiterations of Bloomberg and Giuliani and he’s doing it under progressive cover and we’re here to call it out,” he added.

At one point several activists, including Mr. Trujillo, stormed into the Sheraton’s ornate lobby shouting “hell no with the status quo, Bill de Blasio’s got to go.” Police officers eventually forced them out.

For the activists, there was a sense of betrayal and disillusionment with a Democratic mayor who promised a break from the Bloomberg era, which shunned liberal rhetoric. The activists attacked the mayor for his plan to sell off public housing land to developers, his decision to hire 1,000 new cops and stand staunchly behind Mr. Bratton, whose “broken windows” theory of policing overtly targets nonwhites, according to some progressive critics.

I could go on.

There is no way the same thing is not going to happen to Bernie Sanders. His “revolution” won’t happen overnight. People will become disillusioned. And then they will start looking for the Next Progressive Hope who will save them through inspiring rhetoric that will cower the opposition. I mean, all DeBlasio had to deal with was the open revolt of the New York Police Department near the beginning of his administration. If only he had just gone the distance and abolished policing instead of compromised in order to save his ability to govern to New York, all progressive goals would be accomplished!

None of this is of course to say that the left shouldn’t criticize Obama or DeBlasio or Sanders or anyone else. But a Sanders presidency is going to be under attack from the start, even if Democrats regain a narrow Senate majority that, even outside of the filibuster, gives someone like Heidi Heitkamp or Joe Manchin tremendous power as the 50th vote. If Sanders’ allies turn on him for the inevitable compromising he will have to make on his goals, his presidency will truly be doomed.

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  • That’s because a) appointments are really important

    This would be, I think, one of the better parts of a hypothetical Sanders Administration. If all he did was appoint an AG who put some banksters on trial (no mean feat getting that person through the Senate, but not impossible for a new President) that would earn him a lot of credit. Not from all the full throated left, but “no bankers in jail” is one of those things that pisses pretty much everyone off, and just getting that much might earn him some lasting support.

    • It is indeed possible that Sanders could be great at appointments. But would he be ready to name people to posts from Day One? Will he surround himself with savvy political insiders who will guide him through this process? Not just at AG but as the head of the BLM or BIA, let’s say. And what happens when his radical choice as AG who wants to put bankers on trial is rejected in the Senate in a landslide? You really think naming an AG who wants to put bankers in jail would get even 30 votes in the Senate?

      • Judas Peckerwood

        It would be irresponsible not to speculate and assume the worst.

        • Gregor Sansa

          +Bernoulli variable

      • Sasha

        What makes you think he would be able to get all those folks he would want to appoint? He has a pretty lousy reputation as a boss.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          could you elaborate on that a little, please? considering the Presidency is an executive job I’m surprised nobody has either asked for more or pushed back on this

      • joe from Lowell

        You really think naming an AG who wants to put bankers in jail would get even 30 votes in the Senate?

        Bernie Sanders has been a good soldier in the Democratic Senate Caucus for decades. Yes, I expect his colleagues would support his appointments, as they would for any Democratic President who came out of the Senate.

        • FlipYrWhig

          Sanders became a Senator in 2006.

          • joe from Lowell

            Congressional caucuses, that should read.

        • Tybalt

          Bernie Sanders isn’t a Democrat, has never been a Democrat, and he is repeatedly on record at his contempt for the Democratic Party institutionally and its role as a major party in a two-party system in particular. He doesn’t merely lack the stamina to do party-building within the party; he would absolutely glory in its destruction.

          That Americans don’t see this is positively weird.

          • twbb

            When he ran for the Senate he still got the Democratic establishment to back him.

          • joe from Lowell

            Again, this is someone who is clearly unfamiliar with Sanders’ record in office.

          • djw

            I really do think the party he caucuses with has long ago made their peace with her personal branding strategy; he wouldn’t have been as successful a senator if they hadn’t. I very much doubt he’d be a particularly effective president for a variety of reasons, but this isn’t one of them.

        • efgoldman

          I expect his colleagues would support his appointments

          His Democratic colleagues. Even if the Senate flips, did the anti-filibuster “nuclear option” include cabinet and sub-cabinet/agency appointments that require confirmation? If the Senate doesn’t flip, all bets are off.

          • joe from Lowell

            Well, yeah, but that’s true of any Democrat.

      • Ktotwf

        He is gonna just get terrific people. The smartest people guiding him from day one. Sanders is gonna make America great again.

        We’re going to be doing so much winning that people will be like “Bernie, I’m tired of winning. Can’t we lose one for once?” and Bernie will be like “No, we are gonna keep winning all the way!”

        • He is gonna just get terrific people. The smartest people guiding him from day one. Sanders is gonna make America great again.

          This is like talking to a religious convert.

          • Ktotwf

            Earth humor.

            • Judas Peckerwood

              We Earthlings approve.

          • Nick056

            Please tell me you got the joke?

            • Judas Peckerwood

              That’s not funny!!!

          • joe from Lowell

            It’s a Trump joke, Erik.

            At a minimum, “Make American Great Again” should have been a tipoff.

            • nocutename

              Expecting Erik to get a joke, even an obvious one like this, is like … well, I don’t know what it would be like, but it would have to be a low probability event. Erik is a very serious person, and such people don’t seem to laugh much.

        • tsam

          Due to this post, you are hereby appointed to handle all Donald Dump parody posts. Use this power wisely.

      • Greg

        My question is, would he appoint Obama and Clinton administration veterans who know what they’re doing but are tainted by the “establishment” association? Or would he pick neophytes who are politically pure?

        • This is a really important question.

          • Judas Peckerwood

            This is a really important question.

            Yes, seeing how he just fell off the Glorious Revolutionary Collective turnip truck and has no experience with real-life government.

            • Gregor Sansa

              Killin it, you are.

          • djw

            Indeed.

        • Will he appoint Rham Emanuele his COS? And then hand him Chicago on a silver platter?

          Will he cave in on his Single Payer promise immediately, within weeks of his inuaguration, or maybe actually try to expand Medicare & Medicaid?

          • The Temporary Name

            Will he cave in on his Single Payer promise immediately, within weeks of his inuaguration

            Obama’s web-page is probably on the Wayback Machine. What I remember is no such promise, and in fact a boring description of the plan he eventually got.

        • joe from Lowell

          My question is, would he appoint Obama and Clinton administration veterans who know what they’re doing but are tainted by the “establishment” association? Or would he pick neophytes who are politically pure?

          Sanders hired Tad Devine as a senior advisor. Devine is best-known as a senior advisor to the Gore and Kerry campaigns.

          So, yeah, he’ll probably appoint a Supreme Court justice who sleeps on his mom’s floor and prints tracts on a mimeograph machine. We just don’t know! I mean, look at that hair! Just look at it. You can tell the guy’s completely irresponsible and impractical.

          • Lee Rudolph

            So, yeah, he’ll probably appoint a Supreme Court justice who sleeps on his mom’s floor and prints tracts on a mimeograph machine.

            Does Bob Avakian’s mother even have a floor???

            • joe from Lowell

              You will address the Chairman with his proper title.

              • Ktotwf

                You are clearly comment section MVP today. Good show old chap.

          • Jackov

            Devine, like all those who have resided in Providence, is tainted forever. I would take a basement dweller over a Rhode Islander every time.

            • joe from Lowell

              Love this.

      • cpinva

        “You really think naming an AG who wants to put bankers in jail would get even 30 votes in the Senate?”

        there’s also that whole “statute of Limitations” thing. we aren’t talking capital offenses here, so my guess would be that any of the bankers in question have run out that course, and are safe from jail at this point.

        with respect to a Sanders’ administration as a whole, most of the same could be said of a potential Clinton Presidency, especially (as will most likely be the case) if he/she are dealing with a republican led congress. what we’ll end up with is 4/8 more years of Obama, in terms of getting anything substantive accomplished.

        • rea

          And you know, the big problem from ’08 and before was, that shit wasn’t illegal.

        • And if Hillary wins, we won’t?

          Explain how Hillary is way better than Sanders.

          • farin

            She’s not really! That’s the point: Any Democratic president will face the same set of constraints that will stop radical progressive change no matter what that president wants. Effectively, as long as the president is to the left of Joe Manchin they’ll be pushing for the most progressive legislation they can pass.

      • I hear savvy political insider Rahm Emmanual may be looking for a new gig soon.

      • manual

        So theres a problem here. Obama has had lots of trouble getting moderate candidates nominated. In fact, right now the Banking Committee is holding up all nominations under it jurisdiction, including the head of the FTA and all milquetoast candidates related to finance.

        Most of these problems are handled through brokered deals. It doesnt really matter who he or she nominates. So I dont think that hypothetical matters. All nominees are communists in the eyes of the Republicans, whether they are really or not.

      • brewmn

        This is what drove me nuts about the anti-Obamaism that started getting traction on the left as early as April -June of 2009. The press and political establishment were chomping at the bit to document the Failed Obama Presidency before a single Congressional vote was cast.

        Any attempt to go big and bold right out of the gate would have likely resulted in defeat and crippled his presidency from the outset. I think he’s proven that playing a bit of a waiting game was the best strategy. Hard to explain why certain elements of the left seem incapable of acknowledging this.

        • liberalrob

          Dreams die hard, doubly so when on the surface everything seems to be pointing in the direction of finally getting your agenda implemented. The problem with the waiting game is there’s a good chance you’ll be dead before your side wins.

      • Ahuitzotl

        Potential AG to Senate Committee: “No, of course, economic stability requires that loose-cannon prosecutions of responsible financial officials and entities be avoided completely”

        Newly-confirmed AG: “I am shocked and horrified by the scope, depth and malice visible in the evidence of Goldman Sachs attempts to destroy our democracy and America, and of course this could in no way be construed as responsible action and arrest warrants are already in process”.

    • If all he did was appoint an AG who put some banksters on trial (no mean feat getting that person through the Senate, but not impossible for a new President) that would earn him a lot of credit

      There might be statute of limitation problems, among many others. Including that successful prosecutions are unlikely.

      This is crazy fantasy talk, I’m afraid.

      • notahack

        I would love to litigate 2008, but I think the real issue is what the next president will do about the Great Mining and Fossil Fuels Exploitation Scandal of 2018? Will Sanders’ attorney general sweep that under the rug or will there be actual investigations? I don’t think anyone ever went broke assuming that there would be future corruption and wrongdoing.

      • liberalrob

        He’ll be busy enough investigating and prosecuting the banksters responsible for Great Recession 2: Electric Boogaloo, after they inevitably wreck the global economy again since nothing has really changed.

      • Ahuitzotl

        are you under the delusion they’ve stopped doing this shit? because I can guarantee you BoA hasn’t, and I doubt any of them have. You dont need to prosecute them for 2008 when you can prosecute them for 2015.

  • Brien Jackson

    Also too, this:

    http://lawyersgunsmon.wpengine.com/2016/01/race-reparations-and-sanders/comment-page-1#comment-1849823

    I would ask what a Sanders Presidency would look like because he actually hasn’t told us what he’d really do. He’s getting away with running a fantasy campaign talking about proposals that aren’t nearly fully worked out, aren’t honest about their implications, and of course have no chance of being enacted anyway. So unless the answer is “spend a lot of time tilting at windmills,” we really have no idea where President Sanders would focus his energy or how he would go about trying to run the executive branch.

    • Right–these are real issues. What will President Sanders do when the Senate laughs in his face?

      • FlipYrWhig

        There’s a whiff of assumed can openers in the entire Sanders campaign, frankly. I think what’s supposed to happen is that if Bernie wins then the POLITICAL REVOLUTION has already also won and the Congress is chockablock with new liberal populists itching to do everything Bernie wants — hence a Bernie victory doesn’t have to worry about the Senate laughing in his face because if Bernie wins there are no laughing Senators, only mini-Bernies.

        • ChrisTS

          Bingo.

          There’s another level of delusion, too: if Bernie gets elected all those conservatives and moderate liberals in the populace will be %100 per cent behind him and force their reps to go along.

          So, it’s not just “elect Bernie and turn Congress into berniebots,” it’s also “elect Bernie and turn the vast majority of the citizenry into berniebots.”

          • Breadbaker

            Larry Lessig approves this message and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

            • Tybalt

              this 1 weird trick

          • Hogan

            MANDATE

        • advocatethis

          That perhaps is the key. All the other Democrats in the Senate really share Sanders’s goals and aspirations; they’re just waiting for him to become president so they can show their true colors.

          • joe from Lowell

            Wait…what?

            Who, exactly, have you seen arguing for the secret socialism of the Senate Democratic Caucus?

            You can’t possibly mean the Sanders campaign, and you can’t possibly mean the people who constantly denounce them as sellouts. So who is arguing this? The Republicans?

            • FlipYrWhig

              The most committed Berniacs seem to think that if Bernie were to get elected on the strength of having energized a bunch of new liberal voters, the rest of the Democrats in Congress will move to the left because they’ve seen the people’s power and want to stay on its good side and save their careers in the process.

              • random

                “Berniacs?”

                I prefer ‘Sandernistas” myself.

                • FlipYrWhig

                  I’ve been saying “Berniacs” on the model of “Deaniacs” but it’s not catching on.

                • busker type

                  ooooooo… that’s good!
                  Sandernistas it is

              • joe from Lowell

                I’ve read a lot of what some really committed Berniacs have had to say over the past several months on the Daily Kos diary list, and I haven’t the foggiest idea what you’re talking about. I literally cannot think of a single case of anyone arguing that.

                I see the word “seem” in your answer. What have you encountered that makes things seem that way to you?

            • Mr. Rogers

              I have people on my Facebook feed who, when pressed on how Bernie will get his agenda through congress, insist that all house seats will be in play once Bernie is the candidate so a Progressive/Socialist House Majority is inevitable.

              • Gregor Sansa

                Truer for Trump than Bernie. Luckily, we could get both on the ballot!

              • I don’t think he would have any more difficulty getting his agenda thru congress than Hillary would. Probably less.

                What it comes down to is the democratic people prefer Sanders to another Clinton, think he’ll do better than she would.

                • Mr. Rogers

                  That’s not what’s being questioned or stated. Neither will have a lot of luck moving things through the House they will be facing. Clinton’s online advocates are saying she’s the best person to deal with that opposition and she has a platform of incremental changes to solidify the ground claimed in the last 8 years and move things forward a bit.

                  In contrast Sanders’ online advocates are saying that his nomination will be so transformational that an entirely different House will be elected, overcoming all barriers of political geography and gerrymandering, allowing him to pass sweeping changes over the opposition of multiple powerful stakeholders.

                  Sanders’ advocates argument might be what people want to hear. I don’t know that it’s terribly likely.

                  Now, if Sanders is elected but does not have transformational coattails he may very well govern to much the same effect Clinton is promising now, effecting a series of pragmatic changes to good effect. That’s more likely than him being a complete fuckup legislative purity nut who has no idea how government works. But there are good odds that he’d get less done in those cases than Clinton would since she’s preparing for that post presidential environment and he isn’t. And whatever he does accomplish would almost certainly be met by another round of wailing and gnashing of teeth about how Bernie sold people out.

                  Bernie is a good candidate. He’d very likely make a fine president. But projecting a wish for a transformed nation onto his campaign is not a good way to build long term change.

                • liberalrob

                  But there are good odds that he’d get less done in those cases than Clinton would since she’s preparing for that post presidential environment and he isn’t.

                  There is no evidence of that. There is no basis for thinking that Clinton would be better able to reach favorable compromises with a hostile Congress than Sanders. Nor vice-versa, either. Both would be hated and reviled by the GOP, maybe for different reasons and maybe less virulently than the Kenyan Usurper, but reviled nonetheless. KatWillow is right, the Sanders phenomenon is for the symbolic image of the true reformer he represents, which they feel they were denied (or bait-and-switched out of) with Obama. We could elect Zombie George Washington to the presidency and he’d probably fare no better.

                • Yes.

                  There’s obvious promising and unpromising bits in both Clinton’s and Sanders’ record wrt how good a president they’d be. It’s folly to think that either has an obvious decisive edge. (Similarly with the issues; similarly with campaign ability.)

                  There are enough differences that it is reasonable to prefer one to the other. But if you’re happy with one, you should be ok enough with the other.

                • joe from Lowell

                  I don’t think he would have any more difficulty getting his agenda thru congress than Hillary would. Probably less.

                  What it comes down to is the democratic people prefer Sanders to another Clinton, think he’ll do better than she would.

                  Well, apart from the question of who is more effective as a legislator, there is also the matter of those agendas being different. Sanders’ agenda is a lot more ambitious than Hillary’s, so it would be a heavier lift – even if you agree that he can lift more.

              • djw

                Some of his fans were explaining to me on facebook that the midterm elections problem with vanish in a Sanders presidency, because he would “contest the midterms” and that would be that. (Obama just didn’t bother.)

              • joe from Lowell

                I have definitely seen this theory that voter participation will spike if Sanders is the nominee, on the theory that all of those non-voters are socialists who don’t vote because there haven’t any candidates who speak for them. That’s definitely a thing.

                The Democratic Senate Caucus, though? I have not seen that even once.

          • Kathleen

            Like solid Progressive (and often times Obama critic) Sherrod Brown. Who endorsed Hillary.

          • advocatethis

            Sorry, my sarcasm game is weak.

            • bobbo1

              I got it.

      • cpinva

        “What will President Sanders do when the Senate laughs in his face?”

        according to many Sanders’ supporters at Daily Kos, he’ll just kick them in the butt with his progressive left foot. you really should go and read some of the “interesting” commentary from the “Bern Brigade”. it’s entertaining, if nothing else.

        • And Hillary will triangulate and gut Schools, Infrastructure, Healthcare and Welfare even more, giving the ‘savings’ to the Military. Yay.

    • joe from Lowell

      So unless the answer is “spend a lot of time tilting at windmills,” we really have no idea where President Sanders would focus his energy or how he would go about trying to run the executive branch.

      That’s certainly not how he’s spent his legislative career. Why would you expect the Amendment King, the author of the Sanders Amendment to the ACA, to govern in a radically different manner as President?

      • FlipYrWhig

        Maybe because millions of people would be watching everything he said and did because he got their hopes up as the Shake Things Up candidate, instead of his being a relative backbencher from a small state where he’s been known for ~30 years and can go about his business?

        • joe from Lowell

          So, your theory is that Bernie Sanders would operate very differently when there are a lot of eyes on him than he operates when he’s in relative obscurity.

          I don’t think his performance during this campaign supports that at all. He’s been the same guy before he ran, while he was at 2%, and since he’s become a prominent figure.

      • Brien Jackson

        Because being the President isn’t the same as working the levers of Congress, I guess. But in any case, if we assume he won’t actually be “single payer or else” in the event he were to get elected and have a Democratic caucus, this only reinforces my point that we have no idea what his “realistic” plans and goals are.

        • joe from Lowell

          Because being the President isn’t the same as working the levers of Congress, I guess.

          Well, that’s vague. It’s also not the same as being a mayor, yet his style of governance was quite consistent between those two offices, too.

          But in any case, if we assume he won’t actually be “single payer or else” in the event he were to get elected and have a Democratic caucus, this only reinforces my point that we have no idea what his “realistic” plans and goals are.

          Now THAT is some projection, son!

          Hey, everybody: we have no idea what the real goals of one of the Democratic candidates are. No, not that one – Bernie Sanders! That’s the guy whose goals and values are difficult to ascertain.

    • manual

      All politicians do this. Obama was going to pass healthcare reform in which all people would keep their insurance and no person under 250,000 would be taxed in anyway to pay for it. Both were deeply untrue and have proven to be false. Its a presidential primary, not the 115th Congress.

  • Sebastian_h

    I’m not sure how this is different from a Clinton candidacy. I guess the left already knows she is a sellout?

    • Different dynamic. No one believes in Hillary Clinton as a transformational inspiring leader.

      As I’ve said before, I don’t think a Sanders presidency is actually all that differently than a Clinton presidency and that’s why I don’t care very much about the primary.

      • King Goat

        “No one believes in Hillary Clinton as a transformational inspiring leader. ”

        Wow, that’s a backhanded compliment ;)

      • Judas Peckerwood

        No one believes in Hillary Clinton as a transformational inspiring leader.

        Maybe she should adopt that as her new campaign slogan.

        • Ktotwf

          “I’m like Oatmeal”

        • Ahuitzotl

          Well, it is her image – competence & levelheadedness, not transformation & other myths

      • Scott Lemieux

        No one believes in Hillary Clinton as a transformational inspiring leader.

        Wait — are you saying that Doug Henwood wrote a 200-page book arguing against a ridiculous strawman?

        • Ktotwf

          People seem to genuinely like her in some circles. They certainly identify with her gender and life struggles. Henwood is right that most of her progressive aura is performative, though.

          • Tybalt

            She’s certainly voted plenty liberal, whatever that means.

            • kped

              Doesn’t matter, all a performance. Even when she campaigned for McGovern 40 years ago, all of it a performance for this day!

              Seriously, Clinton haters make me like her more.

              • Ktotwf

                We’ve noticed

            • djw

              Doesn’t count. (Why? I have no idea, but a lot of people are pretty sure.)

      • burritoboy

        I don’t want to be too trollish here (I’m going to forge on regardless): but how is this different from any other political decision at any time ever?
        It seems to be inherent in picking a leader or representative.

        • It’s a matter of the social movement aspect of it all. People believe that presidents create change. They are largely wrong. The left is especially afflicted with this problem. And when they are once again wrong, then they flounce.

          • joe from Lowell

            Seems to me that the last great flounce of the left corresponded to the most successful liberal presidency since Johnson.

            Why is the likelihood of the left flouncing off in the face of Sanders’ pragmatism supposed to be a problem?

            • The 2018 midterms, for one.

              • joe from Lowell

                The notion that a flouncing-off ideological left caused the outcome of the 2010 midterms has been pretty conclusively debunked.

                • CP Norris

                  I can’t believe otherwise intelligent people are still spreading that 2010 dolchstoßlegende.

                • Ktotwf

                  You know Sanders is one of those people?

                • joe from Lowell

                  You know Sanders is one of those people?

                  Some of the traditional style of campaigning in South Carolina – going into churches and telling them you love Jesus and share their culture – could come across a little poorly this time if it’s done with a tin ear or a heavy tread.

              • Gregor Sansa

                Which would go totally awesome under Clinton. Because no one believes in Hillary Clinton as a transformational inspiring leader.

            • ASV

              That presidency started off with big congressional majorities, which it coincidentally lost in the midterm after the left flounced off.

              • joe from Lowell

                Except that there is zero evidence for, and a mountain of evidence against, the claim that a flouncing off left caused the outcome of the 2010 elections.

                For one thing, the number of ideological left-wingers who actually engage in that type of purity politics couldn’t swing a state senate district in Montana. People on the left wing are reliable high-turnout hold-your-nose voters. It’s the people on the right of the party who are much more likely to have opted out (or swung to the Republicans) in 2010.

                • RabbitIslandHermit

                  Yeah. People seem to insist that the Left is so politically marginal that they’ll never accomplish anything while simultaneously suggesting that they’re the cause of every Democratic loss.

                  Purity politics is stupid, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think if it weren’t for those damn Stollerites everything would be center-Left bliss.

                • kped

                  How is it disproven? The reason Dem’s lost is because of turnout problems with young people mostly. They show up every 4 years. This was a big part of the base for Obama’s 2 presidential elections, and they most definitely didn’t show up in as large numbers in mid term elections.

                  Or are you saying there is another proven reason why Dems lost by so much? I’d love to hear it. But I think it’s pretty clear that a lot of people stayed home in 2010 and 2014, and a lot of those people are young. The same young who are hyper idealistic and show up in great numbers for Bernie Sanders campaign events, like they did for Obama campaign events.

                • RabbitIslandHermit

                  Young people stay home every midterm. I don’t think there’s much evidence that that was some kind of principled stand rather than laziness/not being aware how important those elections.

                • joe from Lowell

                  Yeah. People seem to insist that the Left is so politically marginal that they’ll never accomplish anything while simultaneously suggesting that they’re the cause of every Democratic loss.

                  Well, it doesn’t help that the flouncy wing of the Democratic Party, despite its size, spent most of the Obama Presidency explicitly threatening to sulk in their tent and throw the elections. So, when you’ve got both sides saying something, people tend to believe it. Even with it’s utter bunk.

                • joe from Lowell

                  It’s certainly true that young voters dropped off in the mid-terms. As they always do.

                  But your assumption that young voters and highly-motivated, highly-ideological flouncy types are the same population doesn’t turn out to be true. Most of those young people who only turn out for presidential election are not Firebaggers, or highly-engaged at all. What’s going on with them, and what was going on with the flouncy left, were two different things.

                • djw

                  Most of those young people who only turn out for presidential election are not Firebaggers, or highly-engaged at all.

                  Wasn’t there polling that showed that Democratic voters who didn’t vote in 2010 actually gave Obama a higher approval rating than those who did?

                  (I distinctly remember this, but my google-fu comes up short, so maybe I made it up)

                • joe from Lowell

                  I refuse to find that out, because I’m likely to start throwing things.

                • Rob in CT

                  Oh gawd, I think I remember seeing that somewhere. Then all I see is red. I’m with Joe here: this is a thing I don’t want to know.

                • FlipYrWhig

                  That again suggests what I was getting at just below: the 2010 drop-off would be comprised of people who like Obama and don’t care that much about Democrats who aren’t Obama, as opposed to disaffected lefties who think Obama is a quisling.

                • Isn’t more likely that, per usual, key groups like young people are generally less likely to turn out in off year elections and that those favoured Obama heavily?

                  I don’t think we can infer much about how they feel about Democrats per se.

              • FlipYrWhig

                If more people voted for Obama in ’08 than for Local Non-Obama Democrat in ’10, I kind of think the likeliest culprit would be people who like Obama the individual and care who the President is, but don’t particularly care about all those other offices or who holds them. I don’t think the disaffected left is a big enough factor to account for the drop-off.

          • burritoboy

            Again, I am perhaps being trollish, but….eventually part of any social change is harnessing those changing beliefs and those changing events to get people elected into offices (any level of office) and then leveraging that again into laws and policies and spending and so forth. Every political campaign beyond the most desultory ones probably at least try to argue that they’re trying to do this (Clinton certainly does argue this).

            Every campaign (at least if it’s more than desultory) is always going to feature someone who at least seemingly more “institutional” than other people running. But we don’t – and probably shouldn’t – always choose the more “institutional” candidate. Sometimes the less “institutional” figure is the better choice – FDR was a better choice than Al Smith and John Garner even if he was probably less tied into major Democratic machines in say, 1918 or something.

          • burritoboy

            You’re portraying it as if concrete political campaigns for individual politicians and social movements are really solidly separable phenomenon. They’re not identical, but they overlap a lot – and, I would think, probably must do so if any substantive changes happen.

            • The history of social movements using their organizational talents for the primary purpose of getting the right person/people elected has rarely if ever led to useful results. Which is of course very different than those social movements supporting politicians they think will be helpful for their cause.

          • LWA

            believe that presidents create change.

            Wait a moment, they kinda do.
            Even as constrained and hamstrung as Obama has been, he has made a lot of solid positive change, even after the 2010 midterms.

            I get the point that there isn’t going to be a Bernie-mentum sweeping aside the GOP, but I find it hard to imagine that this current GOP is going to yield anymore to Clinton than Sanders.

            Their seething hatred of anything Democratic, or hell, anything that can even halfway be described as “liberal” is such that they would roast pigeons under a bridge, etc, just to prevent any progress from Team Blue.

            How well have the Blue Dogs fared with the Fox News crowd? Are their condemnations of Manchin and Landreiu any less unhinged than their screaming rants against Obama?

            There seems to be a bit of defeatism here, an acceptance that “America is not ready for a Socialist”. Except I recall hearing variations of the same thing said about Obama.

            • Ktotwf

              I agree with almost everything here, but it bears repeating: Sanders is not, by any stretch of the imagination, actually a socialist. That he chose to identify with that term always struck me as an “own goal”, but it could possibly bear fruit in the future.

              • LWA

                Oh I know he’s no socialist. But c’mon, nobody’s perfect.

                What would be great if he could demonstrate that the word is no longer toxic. Anecdotally, I know it definitely isn’t among the younger-than-40 crowd I speak to.

                • rea

                  Sure, President Trump declared war on Iran and Mexico his first day in office, but Sanders as nominee at least demonstrated that the word “socialist” is no longer toxic

                • joe from Lowell

                  You mean the guy with the -15 net favorable rating, who runs 10-15 points behind Sanders in the matchups, who would be running as the Republican nominee in a presidential election year against a Democratic nominee? That President Trump?

                  If the strongest evidence for a theory is 1) that the evidence for the opposing theory isn’t really as definitive as it looks at first glance, and 2) there is no #2, then maybe that theory doesn’t deserve the status of unquestioned assumption.

            • random

              Except I recall hearing variations of the same thing said about Obama.

              I don’t remember anybody saying this about Obama.

              • Ktotwf

                Yeah. In order to run the same campaign against Sanders as against Obama, the Clinton campaign would need to get in some barely veiled anti-semitism. Haven’t heard much of that yet. If she starts going down much harder, we might start hearing about Judeo-Bolshevism though.

                • random

                  Well now you’re just spouting Republican propaganda (hint: that never happened but Republicans like to claim that it did)

              • joe from Lowell

                You don’t remember anybody saying, in 2008, that America wasn’t ready to elect a black President?

                OK, then why did all of those black voters swing from Clinton to Obama after he won the Iowa caucuses? Pretty much everybody answers that question with, “Because they didn’t think he could win before that.”

                Do you have a different take on that?

          • Phil Perspective

            I’m curious. Do you really think Sanders would shutter his version of OFA the day after the election like Obama did? You do remember one of the problems with the ACA was that there was no buy-in from the public, right? Meaning the big negotiations were all done behind closed doors. That OFA didn’t blast out an email, for example, telling people on the list to call their Congresscritter to support a public option, or whatever.

      • So we should vote for the Bum, because the Decent Guy might not do a better job than the Bum?

      • ProgressiveLiberal

        She is more likely, in the compromises that inevitably will be made with congress, to sell us out. TPP, grand bargains, etc. I mean, she’s bad at negotiating – you want $12? Start at $15, not $12.

        Assuming that every bernie support is delusional, because some are, is pretty dumb. But that appears to be standard here.

        • Hahahah. Ok. The bad negotiator schtick is fun and I’ve not seen it for a while.

          At least you kept the numbers low. But again, it’s silly. Lids try this with their parents and it doesn’t work. Kids also try the “no it doesn’t/yes it does” switcharoo that works in the cartoons, but not in real life.

          One obvious point here is that if this were effective, then what the other side wouldn’t try it? Routinely? Cmon.

          In a negotitation, each side has a model of the other side which includes estimates of what’s too far and what’s possible. That model may be wrong, but that’s what you have. It makes no sense to say “just make your opening bid higher”. If your target is outside the acceptability envelope for the other side, it won’t fly. If you offend them, you might screw the deal. Etc.

          Silliness.

          • joe from Lowell

            The other problem with the two-sided negotiation model is that people negotiating the price of a painting at a yard sale don’t also have to take into account an outside observer (public opinion) who is judging the performance of each side, and can bring pressure to bear, if they don’t like one side’s performance.

            • And the fact that they’ll be negotiating with the other parties over time, that they are negotiating *inside* their side as well (now and future), etc. etc. etc.

              I generally don’t like haggling so if at a yard sale they ask more than I want to pay, I generally walk away. If prices seem systematically out of wack, I typically give up on that place altogether (and it can make me grouchy and extra cheap about everything). Conversely, if I get what I think is a good deal, I might by more (with higher spend).

              Indeed, loss leaders are built on this last phenomenon.

              And it’s usually equi-complex on the other side. So there are a lot of ways to blow it.

              • joe from Lowell

                I generally don’t like haggling

                No wonder you’ve been driven from your homeland.

                ;-)

                • Which one?!

                  (BTW, Zorostrian’s we known for being extremely honest, not sharp dealers :))

  • Warren Terra

    So, this post is because we don’t already have enough commenting drama today?

    • It’s a Thursday. People need distractions to get through the rest of the week.

      • efgoldman

        People need distractions to get through the rest of the week.

        Well, hell, then you could have dropped a bagel snob/condiment snob/beer snob/fighting fashion nightmare post.
        A lot less angst.

      • Vance Maverick

        Did you see Jezebel on sriracha packets?

        • Sriracha is not overrated, despite what those Jezebel hipsters might say.

          • efc

            All the cool kids are eating Sambal now.

          • AstroBio

            So, I will just leave this here for Erik.
            Sriracha Vodka

      • Murc

        It’s a Thursday. People need distractions to get through the rest of the week.

        What’s wrong with homebrewed midwinter white lightning? You know, the traditional way of dealing with January.

        • Judas Peckerwood

          What’s wrong with homebrewed midwinter white lightning?

          At least its something you can talk about with the blue collars, amirite?

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        the goal is a 2,000 comment day at the blog, hm?

  • efgoldman

    Failure to eradicate horse-drawn carriages.

    Really? That’s a top three priority?

    and pro-Palestinian activists united at the Sheraton

    That may be important, but last I heard foreign policy isn’t decided by big-city mayors.

    I’m afraid Erik is right, in the sense that the true believers will croak Bernie if it comes to that. That’s what true believers do, on both sides. We’re seeing what happens to a major political party when true believers take over, instead of yelling at the fringes, and it isn’t pretty. Thank goodness Democrats have had more sense.

    If the Senate doesn’t change hands, we may be looking at the first president to have no appointees at all confirmed, whether it’s Sanders or most likely HRC. There are no more norms.

    • ChrisTS

      That’s a top three priority?

      He made it a big deal in his campaign. It appealed to a bunch of wealthy white liberals who had a bee in their bonnet about it.

      • ema

        It appealed to a bunch of wealthy white liberals who had a bee in their bonnet about it.

        As well as to a bunch of people who, day in and day out, see those poor horses weave in and out of traffic and, occasionally, collapse in the middle of CPS.

        • DrS

          It’s almost 10 on the east coast. Shouldn’t we try not to get Erik excited?

    • “…the United States should set as a goal the “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth” by …. someday, if it isn’t too hard or too expensive and if our opponents allow it. Maybe. Or maybe not, maybe its crazy to even consider such a thing! It will never ever happen, Big Business & Repugs won’t allow it! Forget space.

      • efgoldman

        “…the United States should set as a goal the “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth”

        Those of us old enough actually to have seen the speech, also remember that neither party in congress was ideologically monolithic, that both parties generally supported the same things, that government by compromise (i.e. actual politics) was really a thing that worked, and that the Democrats had majorities in both houses.
        Unfortunately, that world is long gone.

    • Phil Perspective

      That may be important, but last I heard foreign policy isn’t decided by big-city mayors.

      Except idiots like BdB comment on it all the time, and take “goodwill” trips to Israel, and in turn support Apartheid.

      • DrS

        What he should do instead is alienate every Jewish voter in NYC and in such a way as to guarantee GOP mayors for a generation.

  • Hercules Mulligan

    I mean, yes, but nothing here suggests that the betrayed feelings of the left will hurt Sanders more than they hurt Obama or will hurt Clinton. I think that might just be a background factor, combined with midterm problems that benefit Republicans…

    I don’t know. Maybe that’s too abstract. But I’ve been thinking more and more lately that Sanders and Clinton are both bad candidates; the 2016 Dem bench just wasn’t good. I have no doubts that Warren would be cleaning up in this primary.

    But that doesn’t help us now. A GOP win in November is a nightmare of such epic proportions that all we can do is vote Dem and hope. With the craziness of this race, I’m not confident that there’s any such thing as strategic voting in the primary.

    EDIT: Which, I guess, reinforces Erik’s comment above that this primary doesn’t really matter.

    • FlipYrWhig

      I think Warren would be doing well, but, two things: one, there was a stretch in her campaign against Brown when the worrywarts were convinced she was blowing it and a lousy communicator and all the rest. She’s not bulletproof. Two, does Warren have anything to say about foreign policy?

    • efgoldman

      But I’ve been thinking more and more lately that Sanders and Clinton are both bad candidates

      They’re relative mediocrities. An FDR or Obama doesn’t come rolling down the road every four years. But the Republiklowns in the klown kar are a combination of evil, scary sociopaths who would destroy what little is left of the American contract (Michigan, anyone? Wisconsin? Texas? the traitor states?) Each one of them means it when s/he says the first day in office, they’d rescind hundreds of Obama’s executive orders. Any of the klowns will make the eight years of W seem like a paradise. No, I’m not exaggerating. Read what they have said – and looks ta what the RWNJ TeaHadis on Capitol Hill have tried to do and said they’ll do.

      • FlipYrWhig

        If Sanders and H. Clinton are both “bad candidates,” how many good ones have there ever been?

        • Gregor Sansa

          They are bad compared to FDR or Obama. Good compared to any loser in the past 20 years, including both Bush and Gore.

      • Hercules Mulligan

        All true. They’re bad candidates, not presidents; I have no doubt that either Clinton or Sanders would be infinitely better than any Republican, but could they beat any Republican? I’m not sure. Sanders is obviously very untested and hypothetically vulnerable on a lot of things; Clinton, meanwhile, is just generally disliked and might have low turnout.

        All I’m saying is, this is potentially a very, very bad year. Vote your favorite Dem this spring, because that’s what primaries are for; I don’t think you can predict who’s going to have the easier time this fall (for example: I suspect, but have no proof, that Clinton would do better against Cruz, but Sanders better against Trump).

        • The Temporary Name

          Clinton, meanwhile, is just generally disliked and might have low turnout.

          I don’t wanna pick on you specifically, but I think it’s the common consensus among a bunch of guys who talk politics that Clinton is disliked. I don’t think the polls have shown her as much of an outlier where favourability is concerned.

          • Hercules Mulligan

            I really, really hope you are correct. Hell, maybe 45% favorability just beats 33%, or whatever the GOP guy can pull off.

            • The Temporary Name

              At this point there’s only one Republican candidate who’s as well-known as Clinton, and he’s very much disliked.

              Cruz should be able to pull off that kind of disapproval pretty easily.

            • random

              History shows that the Clinton’s with favorability in the mid-40’s will still kick your monkey ass in a general election. Even if it’s a mid-term and they aren’t even on the ballot.

            • djw

              When contrasting her favoribility with Sanders, it’s necessary to keep in mind that people have been working very hard for a very long time drive up her negatives, and there’s very little more that’s likely to be done in the next 10 months. Similar efforts for Sanders have barely begun (and we really have very little idea how skillful he’ll be at responding to them.)

          • kped

            It’s amazing that the Bernie supporters trot this out. The candidate that has been leading by upwards of 20 points for months is somehow going to depress turnout. Like…if your guy is so well liked, why isn’t he leading? Tell me please.

            “He has higher favorability” yeah, among people unlikely to vote for a democrat. But Democrats (the people who will actually vote for either candidate) like Hillary and Bernie pretty equally, and that’s all that matters.

            • Hercules Mulligan

              Excuse me, this (and the bizarre post above) seem to assume that I’m either a Nader voter or a Cruz voter and desperately want Clinton to lose.

              I’m merely pointing out that Clinton is not a terribly well-liked candidate amongst the voting public, and we need her to win. Therefore, the chief hope is that the GOP nominee is even less popular, or that her favorability ratings go up significantly post-primary. Neither of these things is implausible, but that shouldn’t make us complacent.

              Perhaps being absurdly condescending to anyone who isn’t 100% certain Clinton would win easily is not the best path forward?

        • joe from Lowell

          See, I come to the same conclusion – vote your heart, don’t worry about electability – for exactly the opposite reason.

          The Democratic nominee goes into the election as a heavy favorite. That’s just the way the electoral landscape works in presidential elections. The EC map is completely brutal for Republicans, and the electorate that turns out is pretty reflective of the actual public (which is to say, favors the Democrats). Add to that the freakshow in the other party (seriously, yeah, Hillary and Bernie have weaknesses. I’d still rather be us than them.), and I just can’t see telling someone they have to hold their nose or the Democrats are dooooooomed.

          Everyone should vote their heart.

        • Phil Perspective

          I don’t think you can predict who’s going to have the easier time this fall (for example: I suspect, but have no proof, that Clinton would do better against Cruz, but Sanders better against Trump).

          You did hear, today, that Senator Burr of North Carolina would vote for Sanders before he voted for Cruz, right?

      • Obama is not even remotely another FDR. Sanders is closer to FDR than Obama ever imagined himself.

        • joe from Lowell

          FDR and Obama (and LBJ) can be meaningfully grouped as liberal Democratic Presidents with historically-large legislative accomplishments.

          Also, when FDR was in Sanders’ position, as a candidate running for President, FDR wasn’t FDR, either. He ran on deficit reduction and administrative competence. FDR the candidate was much closer to Obama than to Sanders.

    • Ktotwf

      Hillary Clinton is really not a very good politician, which is just as astonishing as a professional basketball player not being able to consistently make free throws. She is “Shaq-ing” this Primary.

      • Ahenobarbus

        Shaq-ing means maintaining a large national lead over her top challenger and wrapping up every endorsement in sight?

        • Ktotwf

          Shaq-ing means “polls show her on track to lose the first two primaries” and her national lead slowly but surely evaporating against a guy who basically started running as a sheep-dog.

          • ColBatGuano

            “polls show her on track to lose the first two primaries”

            Please show me the polls that show her losing Iowa.

            • Ktotwf

              Seriously? Have you looked at the news today, brah?

              P.S. Trump is winning. Do you need me to google that for you too?

              • efgoldman

                Trump is winning. Do you need me to google that for you too?

                At least for now, he’s not running against either HRC or Sanders. In fact, the only one who is (for all the good it will do him) is Kris Krispie.

            • marduk

              Getting crushed actually, assuming this poll is valid:

              http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/21/politics/iowa-poll-full-results-cnn-orc/index.html

              • random

                Another poll out today has the reverse result, she’s up by 9.

                Cherry-picking aside, her average lead is around +3, which is close enough that we don’t know who’s going to win it.

                • Ktotwf

                  The trend is towards Sanders. It shows a significant and most importantly recent upswing towards Bernie. The RCP average is averaged out over the last two weeks plus.

                  That the race is even close is a negative sign for Clinton.

                • joe from Lowell

                  Cherry-picking aside, her average lead is around +3, which is close enough that we don’t know who’s going to win it.

                  Also evidence for the “don’t know” theory – the polls are all over the place. The January polls listed on the Real Clear Politics page range from Sanders +8 to Clinton +21.

                • joe from Lowell

                  The trend is towards Sanders. It shows a significant and most importantly recent upswing towards Bernie.

                  I’ve come to the conclusion that the aggregators aren’t a good source for short-term trends because you don’t know if any movement you see is real movement in the race, or if a few pollsters who lean one way happen to have released the last three polls.

                  Instead, I’ve started to look at the current and previous iterations of individual polls.

                  Here are the ones that have both December and January Iowa results:

                  CNN/ORC went from Clinton +18 in early December to Sanders +8 now. Sanders + 26.

                  KBUR went from Clinton +14 at the end of October to Clinton +9 now. Sanders +5.

                  Des Moines Register went from Clinton +9 in early December to Clinton +2 now. Sanders +7.

                  Gravis went from Clinton +18 in mid-December to Clinton +21 now. Sanders -3.

                  PPP went from Clinton +18 in mid-December to Clinton +6 now. Sanders +12.

                  Quinippiac went from Clinton +11 in mid-December to Sanders +5 in early January. Sanders +16.

                  That averages out to Sanders gaining 11 points.

                • random

                  The trend is towards Sanders.

                  Nope, trend from the last month has been slightly in Clinton’s favor. Also you can see from any aggregate graph that he’s only consolidating non-Clinton voters, not actually pulling votes away from her. Which is a huge problem.

                  It shows a significant and most importantly recent upswing towards Bernie.

                  No, it really doesn’t and you have to engage in some really perverse cherry-picking to argue that it does.

                  The RCP average is averaged out over the last two weeks plus.

                  No matter how you slice it, at current rate Sanders is on track to lose the nomination.

                  That the race is even close is a negative sign for Clinton.

                  That he’s going to lose the race is an even more negative sign for Sanders.

                • Ktotwf

                  Your repeated assertions have definitely convinced me.

                • Gregor Sansa

                  You guys are arguing Iowa vs national. I happen to think Iowa trends are a leading indicator. We’ll see.

                • random

                  That averages out to Sanders gaining 11 points.

                  You actually can’t see what would pass for ‘short-term trends’ (the primary is a few weeks away) with that method unless the poll is a rolling daily poll.

                  Sanders had a good week at the beginning of the New Year but then lost some of that over the past 2 weeks. The short-term trend right now has him going down, not up.

                • joe from Lowell

                  You actually can’t see what would pass for ‘short-term trends’ (the primary is a few weeks away) with that method unless the poll is a rolling daily poll.

                  I guess you can define “short-term” in a manner obviously at odds with how I was using it and make your sentence true, but doing so really doesn’t make the very obvious trend in that data vanish in a puff of illogic.

                  Sanders had a good week at the beginning of the New Year but then lost some of that over the past 2 weeks. The short-term trend right now has him going down, not up.

                  This reminds me of the last scene in Brazil.

                • random

                  I guess you can define “short-term” in a manner obviously at odds with how I was using it

                  I’m using it in a manner consistent with how the original poster I was responding to was using it. Then you interjected that you had a better way of measuring it, and then I pointed out that it’s actually not.

                  but doing so really doesn’t make the very obvious trend in that data vanish in a puff of illogic.

                  The long-term trend is that Sanders has accumulated people who were already not supporting Clinton anyway, with a good bounce after Biden left. I’ve never said otherwise.

                  The short-term trend (which this close to the primaries is actually relevant) is that he lost some support right around and since the last debate.

                • joe from Lowell

                  The long-term trend is that Sanders has accumulated people who were already not supporting Clinton anyway, with a good bounce after Biden left.

                  Oh, is that how Hillary went from 70% to below 50% while her competition was whittled down to one: by Bernie Sanders picking up unaffiliated voters.

          • random

            She can afford to lose both of those primaries and still win the nomination and Sanders’s biggest polling gains happened because Biden dropped out.

            He’s picking up former undecideds, not converting her voters. And she has over 50% of the party, so it’s looking pretty grim over there.

            • Ktotwf

              We’ll see if she destroys Bernie as thoroughly as Ben Carson ripped the GOP field apart

              • random

                She’s already kicking his ass now. And Carson would walk all over Bernie Sanders in a general election.

                • Ktotwf

                  Wow. You are clearly not rooting for Clinton in an embarrassingly over-emotional way, whatsoever.

                • random

                  Clinton would also probably have a much harder time with Carson than most liberal-types are aware of or at least willing to admit. But at least she would have a chance.

                  She may not be a great politician, but she is definitely a much better politician than the guy who has been explicitly advertising himself as a socialist.

                  When I state that she is kicking his ass, I’m just stating a fact. I backed Obama over her last time around.

                • joe from Lowell

                  And Carson would walk all over Bernie Sanders in a general election.

                  You know, you just might see this quoted back to you going forward.

                • Rob in CT

                  The basis for this theory appears to be Ben Carson is black, therefore he’d be a great candidate for the GOP.

                  Ben Carson is also clearly, obviously, a delusional nut that GOPers don’t even like much.

                  Yet you’re sure he kicks butt in the general he’ll never reach.

                  So sure, you trot this out, repeatedly. It’s ridiculous, man.

          • efgoldman

            Shaq-ing means “polls show her on track to lose the first two primaries” and her national lead slowly but surely evaporating

            Iowa will be very close. I have always expected Bernie to win NH, where he’s essentially a native son. Then comes the South, and HRC will universally crush him on Super Tuesday. But the Villagers and the chicken littles will be convinced the sky is not only falling, but the plant is collapsing, until Super Tuesday.

            • Scott P.

              538 has Hillary with a 79% chance of winning Iowa.

              • Gregor Sansa

                538 is including insider endorsements and money raised but not numbers of donors. I respect Poblano but he’s gone off the deep end on that one. He also informally said Bernie was something like 5-10% for the overall win; I’d put it around 20%.

              • joe from Lowell

                Down from 96% a couple weeks ago.

        • Greg

          Shaquille O’Neal is a hall of fame player, to be fair.

          • advocatethis

            It may be that you have to be a pretty good basketball player to have the chance to be a horrible free-thower in the NBA. O’Neal’s .527 free throw percentage, by the way, is higher than Chamberlain’s .511, but perhaps I’m showing my age to think that’s relevant.

            • erick

              Yeah kind of like the pitcher with the record for most losses in a season has to be pretty good just having a bad year and/or some bad luck losses, otherwise no way they keep trotting him out

          • farin

            “I think I’m the only politician,” Hillary Clinton said, “who looks at each and every candidate in the race and says, ‘That’s barbecue chicken down there.”

      • joe from Lowell

        Hillary Clinton has strengths and weaknesses as a politician. No, she’s not much of a strategist. No, she’s not very good at riling up a crowd. Yes, she’s a little wooden in speeches.

        But she’s an ace debater, and an ace policy wonk. She has an impressive breadth of knowledge. She exudes toughness – just try to picture a Republican casting her as soft on defense.

        All in all, you’re right, she’s not a very good politician, but she’s at least a pretty good one.

      • Hillary Clinton is really not a very good politician,

        I assume you mean “campaigner”.

        If we are talking raw skills, she’s pretty good. Her talent picking is not so great and she made some key errors early on against Obama, but made an excellent recovery and almost one. (The Obama team was super excellent and had an amazing strategy.)

        If we talk situation, it’s all over the place, but net good.

        If you mean “She blew her lead AGAIN!!!” then that’s just silly talk. For example, her favorables went down from pre-candidacy. That’s true of most everyone, though if you’re unknown the story is a bit different. Sanders is doing rather well, but not, afaict, from any super campaigning or organisation on his part. We’re not seeing Obama 2008 reprised (afaict). There are a bunch of large scale dynamics plus two perfectly reasonable campaigns by two fairly strong candidates.

    • MDrew

      the 2016 Dem bench just wasn’t good

      It’s not that the bench wasn’t good. It’s that they put a starting five on the floor that included the strongest player, and then probably four of the weakest. They sat the majority of their should-be starters to let their star shooting guard score all the points. Hopefully she has a big game.

      The fact of the matter is that they barely limped to the court (from the bench) with a full starting 5, even though they had 3 and 4-star recruits (even if no 5-stars) ready to play.

      Oh well.

      • farin

        The DNC never should have hired Byron Scott.

  • King Goat

    Given a continued gerrymandered GOP House and a GOP Senate I think the most important power of a Democratic President will be their veto power…

    Bill Clinton was able to woo much of the left despite his record and rhetoric by promising to stand between the country and the Contract with America.

    • Yes, one can clearly argue that the veto power is the 2nd most important role of the presidency.

      • King Goat

        I grant you the appointment power, especially regarding the courts, can in theory be more important since it can extend one’s influence far into the future, but given a solidly GOP Senate bent on obstruction of appointments I’m not sure that power’s going to be much use.

        • Plausibly or not, I think HRC can get moderate libs – Sotomayors and Ginsburgs – past a GOP Senate, possibly as “compromise” candidates after tossing a more lefty candidate (or two) to the wolves.

          Obama works crowds well and rooms badly; HRC seems the other way around, and I think that will help her with GOP senators.

          • JBL

            This is the least plausible “the president will magically make things happen by magic” story I have ever heard.

            • random

              De facto there is no filibuster for SCOTUS nominees. It’s still a rule on paper, but only until someone invokes it and then it is gone. So the trick is getting the Dem Senators on board, not the GOP Senators.

  • Ahenobarbus

    This might not go over well here, but I’d ask whether Cuomo has faced a similar dynamic. He has done some progressive things on gun control and the minimum wage and same sex marriage (although the last of these is just a layup in blue states nowadays). He’s now pushing for a paid family leave bill which is too much for businesses but not enough for liberals.

    • No, because who ever believed in Andrew Cuomo like they do in Bernie Sanders? Or even Bill Clinton for that matter?

    • Scott Lemieux

      I think the story is that liberals have actually succeeded in pushing Cuomo to the left. He’s been better since getting re-elected, and I suspect Teachout getting as much support as she did with a skeleton campaign may have spooked him a bit.

      Which, again, is an argument against the idea that political change is driven from the top down. My more contestable lesson is that the best outcome for the Democratic primary would be for Sanders to do fairly well but not win.

      • Murc

        I suspect Teachout getting as much support as she did with a skeleton campaign may have spooked him a bit.

        One of the underlooked good results of the Teachout primary was burying Cuomo’s national ambitions. For that, Zephyr Teachout deserves the thanks of a grateful nation.

      • Ahenobarbus

        I do think that H. Clinton will be a much better president coming after Obama than she would have coming after Bill. I wouldn’t trust her to fend off the Senate Dems we had back then.

        • Murc

          She was the Senate Dems we had back them.

          • FlipYrWhig

            Almost, but Hillary was elected to the Senate in 2001. Bill’s first Senate had among the Dems both Richard Shelby and Ben Nighthorse Campbell. There were 2 from Alabama (including Shelby before the defection), 2 from Nebraska, and 2 from Louisiana.

          • joe from Lowell

            Nah, you’re forgetting the Sam Nunns and the rest of the Blue Dogs. That was a big, powerful segment of the Democratic caucus in the 90s, and they’re all-but-gone now.

      • Hercules Mulligan

        Aha. Bingo. (Not with Cuomo, but Sanders). The nervousness over the past week or so (well, aside from punditry, which just wants to annoy Clinton), is precisely this, Sanders voters who are worried that they’ll fuck things up.

        Which is reasonable, obviously, but I’m just not sure how far we can extend “lesser of two evils” before it becomes meaningless. Always vote D in the general is an obviously correct position, even if you’d like someone better. But can you apply it to primaries? There’s no reason why not– the wrong nominee could doom the general– but things get shaky if you tell people “third parties bad, primaries good!” and then back away from it later.

        • Murc

          things get shaky if you tell people “third parties bad, primaries good!” and then back away from it later.

          Indeed, it’s this sort of thing that is causing problems for the Labour Party in the UK. The Blairites told the leftward-leaning factions of the party for many years “if you want to run the table, win yourself some leadership elections.” Well, they were taken at their word, and they won them a leadership election, and now suddenly its “Fuck you, we’ll burn the place down.”

          The situation in the states isn’t precisely the same, but it is analogous. I feel like some non-trivial number of people (not our hosts, they’re legit) mouthing the “win some primaries!” line really just want the dirty hippies to go away, but don’t want to actually say that, so they use the line as a shield. If it looks like the dirty hippies might actually win, they’ll back away from it fast as hell.

          • random

            I see positively zero signs of this being at all true in the US. It didn’t happen in 2008 for example.

            I also don’t think it makes sense to interpret people trying to beat Sanders in the primary as a sign that they are somehow not sincere about the primary process.

            If Sanders wins the nomination the entire Democratic establishment is going to be pushing for all they are worth to get him elected. The line isn’t being used as a shield against anything other than splitting the vote and letting the Republicans burn the whole country to the ground.

      • Phil Perspective

        I think the story is that liberals have actually succeeded in pushing Cuomo to the left. He’s been better since getting re-elected, ….

        Aren’t you forgetting something? Cuomo had a real fear, recently, of possibly getting indicted. He screwed over BdB despite BdB working the WFP room for him.

    • Murc

      The thing is, Cuomo is, you know, an actual backstabber. And facestabber.

      Can anyone imagine Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton actively colluding with Mitch McConnell to ensure Republicans continue to hold the Senate? Because Cuomo did the equivalent at the state level.

      • Tybalt

        I absolutely can; if Bernie thought it would hasten the demise of the two-party system, he would shank as many Democrats as he could find.

        • Ktotwf

          Oh, bs. He already said he would absolutely not run third party and enable a Republican victory. He isn’t an intransigent ideologue.

          • Tybalt

            I’m talking about after he is safely ensconced in the White House. But hell, man, that is exactly what Bernie did in 1988–split the vote with a Democrat and elected a Republican. He has priors.

            I *like* Bernie Sanders. He’s a great legislator and a truly fantastic politician. But his goals regarding politics–as opposed to policy–are not the goals that people who describe themselves as Democrats share.

            • Tybalt

              And that’s not getting into the fact that Bernie never took on Jim Jeffords until Jeffords retired. That’s forgiveable–Bernie did damned good work in the House and Jeffords was approximately as good a Republican as you could find by the late 90s. But the Senate seat was there for the taking, but Bernie held back because he knew he’d have to run as a Democrat to take it.

        • JBL

          This is so totally delusional it’s hard to know what else to say about it.

        • joe from Lowell

          I absolutely can; if Bernie thought it would hasten the demise of the two-party system, he would shank as many Democrats as he could find.

          To my list of similarities between Obama and Sanders, I can now add “Crazy opponents who think he’s a Manchurian Candidate.”

        • Rob in CT

          I think it’s far more likely (but hopefully still unlikely) that congressional Dems would “shank” Bernie.

          Leftist purity ponies are not the only risk here. Very Serious People going rogue is a concern too.

  • petesh

    In addition to appointments, the most important thing the next President does is crisis management. I think Sanders was far too slow on BLM, although he did get round to it, and not great on Planned Parenthood, both of which are signals to issues about which he really does (I think) have sound views, but they weren’t what he wanted to discuss. Gotta be nimble, and I’m not sure he is. Bernie for Senate!

    • Phil Perspective

      I think Sanders was far too slow on BLM, ….

      And Hillary was where?

  • Ktotwf

    Well, they turned on the Bolsheviks inside of a year too.

    What I am ultimately most afraid of is a much more successful and wide ranging revolt against Sanders from the center-left. It all depends on how seriously they take the red baiting they are playing with now. This election, if Bernie Sander succeeds, may spell the end of the New Democrat Third Way style that has dominated since Bill Clinton and before (at least its end outside of purple states.)

    As wealth inequality and general misery rises, the space for a genuinely social democratic Democratic Party may be created. That is incredibly exciting.

    Sanders may also have one advantage in governing and maintaining support – he INTENDS to be a genuinely left-wing figure, where as Barack Obama just seemed/felt like he intended to be significantly Left of the status quo. Use of the Presidential bully pulpit in an intelligent way might help keep some momentum going for his “revolution”. But I wouldn’t bet on the Dems controlling Congress during his Presidency.

    • As wealth inequality and general misery rises, the space for a genuinely social democratic Democratic Party may be created. That is incredibly exciting.

      Somehow I’m not seeing the word “exciting” as the most appropriate word for describing this society.

      • Ktotwf

        Not the society itself, but the political opportunities it opens up. I have skin in the game Loomis – this isn’t some pie-in-the-sky thing to me.

    • Scott Lemieux

      he INTENDS to be a genuinely left-wing figure, where as Barack Obama just seemed/felt like he intended to be significantly Left of the status quo.

      But he’s not going to be able to accomplish a lot of big left-wing things, so his stated positions don’t matter. It’s not like the “Didn’t. Even. Try” crowd gives credit to Obama for trying to close Gitmo and failing.

      This would be as unfair to Bernie as it was to Obama, but it would absolutely happen.

      • Ktotwf

        Sanders possibly can sell it as “I am fighting for you and constrained by the evil GOP”, whereas (at least from my POV), Obama went out of his way to give the impression of being a SERIOUS. PERSON. MODERATE. Maybe I’m wrong, but we will see.

        • FlipYrWhig

          You know who prides themselves on being serious person moderates? About half the people who vote for Democrats. And a shitload of Democratic office-holders pretty much across the country. And if they don’t feel like helping Bernie do the things he says he wants to do, they don’t have to, and they’ll pop off in the media about how this rumpled rapscallion just doesn’t know what he’s doing and it’s embarrassing to witness. You know how I know this? Because I was alive and alert during Clinton ’92-’93-’94, and so was Barack Obama.

          • Ktotwf

            Well, I would hope that sort of attitude would generate the same outrage here that threats from illusory BernieBros not to vote for or support Clinton do and would.

            • Judas Peckerwood

              Well, I would hope that sort of attitude would generate the same outrage here that threats from illusory BernieBros not to vote for or support Clinton do and would.

              No, because it would be a case of the “moderates” just being “sensible” doncha’ know.

            • FlipYrWhig

              It pretty much sucked when it happened repeatedly 20+ years ago, I can tell you that much. But I recycled my Nation magazines and the Usenet archives are hard to search.

        • Brien Jackson

          The “Serious” dimsmissals had a lot of weight when “all the serious people” supported the Iraq war. It has no weight in the Democratic primary, at least not after Sanders put out his “single payer plan.”

          • Ktotwf

            Keep hitting that one note, brah.

            • joe from Lowell

              Please, Brien, keep hitting it!

              Keep telling Democratic primary voters that Bernie Sanders has a single payer health care plan, while Hillary Clinton is far too responsible for such a thing.

              This is the most brilliant bit of presidential campaign messaging since John McCain spent a week telling the American public that his opponent wants to spread the wealth.

              • Brien Jackson

                Of course, the point is that Bernie Sanders has a healthcare plan in the same way every Republican candidate has a plan that cuts taxes for the 1% and increases government tax revenues.

                • joe from Lowell

                  Sure, same-same.

                  I’m awed by your ability to maintain your perspective despite having such a clear preference.

                • Rob in CT

                  Krugman sorta made this argument, and he made it quite weakly.

                  There is definitely some hand-waving going on re: single-payer, but it’s not magic asterisk nonsense like GOP tax plans. Not least because GOP supply side voodoo has been repeatedly demonstrated to be voodoo, whereas single-payer healthcare has been (internationally) repeatedly demonstrated to work*.

                  I think it’s totally fair to point out that some of Bernie’s proposals are sketches rather than detailed plans and ask for more detail. I don’t think it’s reasonable to conclude on 1/22/16 that he’s unserious because he hasn’t filled in all those details yet.

                  Obama was anti-individual mandate. Which, if you think it through, either means he didn’t understand the issue or he was lying.

                  * I say this while also being of the opinion that it will be hard to “get there from here” because the US went down a different road for ~75 years and switching now involves a lot of disruption (which is why I think incremental moves toward single-payer are most likely and, frankly, most desirable).

        • Gregor Sansa

          Agree with ktotwf

      • petesh

        Obama’s stated positions were not all that left-wing. I supported him anyway because I thought he was smart, and I am happy I did. I am quite sure that there was a racist segment of the left that (1) was completely unaware of being racist and (2) assumed that a smart black guy would naturally be as left as they were. Some of these people are my friends, some of whom ditched Obama on the basis of appointments before he had time to do a thing.

      • ASV

        “After years of disappointment with get-rich-quick schemes, I know I’m gonna get rich with this scheme…and quick!”

    • FlipYrWhig

      Sanders may also have one advantage in governing and maintaining support – he INTENDS to be a genuinely left-wing figure

      His campaign is pitched at the group that thinks the president approved by ~90% of self-described liberals is too far right for their tastes, it seems to me. I’m not sure if that’s an advantage.

    • efc

      Yes. This could be called the “Corbyn Scenario”. I sometimes read the Guardian and the hatred Blair and the New Labour people have for Corbyn is astounding.

      • Ktotwf

        That is what I am most terrified of, outside of a Cruz presidency.

      • Tybalt

        Corbyn, crucially, started it. That’s not over; the Blairites were never Labour to begin with. They’re Liberals; the Party was a vehicle.

        • Phil Perspective

          Corbyn started it? Haha!! The Blair-ites started it. He won because the party elite were completely out of touch with the party’s base. And Corbyn won by a huge margin. Corbyn is actually better than Sanders. Why? He’s actually pro-Palestinian.

        • EliHawk

          They’re Liberals; the Party was a vehicle.
          Reply

          That’s such bullshit. Blair and Brown, who among others were the drivers of the project, were life-long Labour, but they also were sick of losing and didn’t Hard Left policies actually would accomplish their goals. It’s peculiar, this idea that people who join a party at its lowest ebb and desperately want it to win instead of joining a winning party (or going off to the SDP) are somehow secretly in the pocket of a different one. If you wanted something to be your ‘vehicle’ to power, you don’t get on one as hopeless as Michael Foot era Labour. The tendency to try and write people out of a party because they are not true Scotsman is a terrible bit of Left Tea-Partyism.

          • DAtt

            http://www.independent.co.uk/news-14-5/jeremy-corbyns-left-wing-politics-is-reactionary-says-tony-blair-10406516.html

            “Let me make my position clear: I wouldn’t want to win on an old-fashioned leftist platform. Even if I thought it was the route to victory, I wouldn’t take it.”- Tony Blair

            • EliHawk

              Which pretty much makes my point. Blair/Brown (who, bitter personal rivalry aside, were alike on ideology) etc. are Labour, and have their own principals and beliefs in how to put their values into action. Blair saying that he holds some beliefs more important than winning elections isn’t an indictment of him as somehow using Labour as a vehicle to win elections, it actually reinforces that he has an ideological consistency to him, as part of the Labour Party that, as someone pointed out in a different comment thread, was always more Methodist than Marxist. Them holding the belief that you can make life better for the working class through social democracy instead of seizing the commanding heights of the economy places them comfortably within the mainstream of the Labour voter, if not the activist.

      • Ktotwf

        BTW, The Corbyn Scenario sounds like the world’s worst Techno Thriller

        • ResumeMan

          Or a bad Robert Ludlum thriller.

          • MDrew

            More that.

    • joe from Lowell

      I disagree.

      For all of Sanders’ embrace of the word socialism, his record is much more suggestive of a strong liberal than of, say, a European SD party. I think he’d follow an FDR model.

    • Redwood Rhiadra

      As wealth inequality and general misery rises, the space for a genuinely social democratic Democratic Party may be created.

      Also known as a permanent Republican plurality. (If the Democratic party splits, we’re fucked.)

  • joe from Lowell

    There seems little doubt that Sanders would be more practical and flexible than, say, Jimmy Carter in order to get things done. The notion of the Amendment King being on the left edge of the caucus is strange – you’d expect Sanders to have a record full of pointless posturing votes and light on sausage-making, like Ron Paul – but that’s clearly not how Sanders approaches the job.

    The question seems to be, would the people who ditched Obama as a sellout be more willing to give Sanders room?

    One of the few things that the Bully Pulpit is actually good for is rallying one’s own base. Perhaps Sanders would aim his rhetoric more at this end than Obama, who likes to strike moderate poses in his rhetoric in order to define the Republicans as extreme. This would obviously have an upside and a downside, but perhaps keeping those left supporters on the bus would be part of the upside.

    • “There seems little doubt that Sanders would be more practical and flexible than, say, Jimmy Carter in order to get things done.”

      That’s funny, because I think he would be very much like Carter in that regard.

      • Judas Peckerwood

        That’s funny, because I think he would be very much like Carter in that regard.

        Based on…?

        • joe from Lowell

          Funny hair. Vermont. Threat to Hillary Clinton.

          • joe from Lowell

            To be serious, I think we know exactly what it’s based on: the overlap between strongly liberal/leftist values and a lack of political pragmatism is pretty pronounced when it comes to politicians. Sanders is an exception to a rule that is otherwise very reliable, so it’s not surprising that people who haven’t looked very hard into his record would make that assumption.

            • random

              There seems little doubt that Sanders would be more practical and flexible than, say, Jimmy Carter in order to get things done.

              There is no ‘getting things done’ option in the next administration that involves the Legislature working with them. That isn’t going to happen no matter which Democrat is in office.

              Sanders can’t do it, Obama can’t do it, Clinton can’t do it. It’s not going to happen.

              • joe from Lowell

                I certainly agree about the political environment in which we find ourselves.

                I was responding to point about Sanders’ individual governing style.

                And let’s not be so negative! The next administration will probably last eight years, and there will be redistricting before the 2022 elections. So there’s your pitch for optimism. Cheers.

                • random

                  Sorry, yeah I meant ‘next term’. I have no idea what happens in 2020.

      • joe from Lowell

        You’re clearly unfamiliar with his record in Congress, then.

        Have you heard, for instance, of his Affordable Care Act amendment?

        • LifeOntheFallLine

          I have, and I’m curious how many Republican votes it gathered.

          • JBL

            Because that would prove …?

            • LifeOntheFallLine

              His ability to make sausage and build coalitions…?

              • joe from Lowell

                So what you’re saying is that Obama’s successful passage of the Affordable Care Act didn’t demonstrate a capacity to make sausage and build coalitions, since it didn’t receive Republican votes.

                • LifeOntheFallLine

                  Obama and Sanders provided equal amounts of input in the ACA?

                • joe from Lowell

                  Lolwut?

                  The conversation wasn’t about giving credit for the ACA. The conversation was about whether or not “Did Republicans vote for it?” is a good measure of a Democratic President’s ability to make sausage and build coalitions.

                • LifeOntheFallLine

                  LOL Bills aren’t amendments.

                  I know I’ll be accused of goalpost shifting here – which may be fair, even though we’ve moved in scale from amendments to bills – but passing a bill takes actual coalition building, and even though the ACA didn’t get any Republicans to sign on he and his proxies rallied a very diverse and unruly Democratic coalition to get the job done.

                  If Bernie is going to get credit for being a sausage making coalition king then his amendment needs to do more than just not alienate an existing confederation.

                • joe from Lowell

                  but passing a bill takes actual coalition building

                  While passing major amendments, like the Sanders Amendment to the ACA, doesn’t?

                  nd even though the ACA didn’t get any Republicans to sign on he and his proxies rallied a very diverse and unruly Democratic coalition to get the job done.

                  IOW, so much for your argument that getting Republican votes is the measure of one’s ability to “make sausage and built coalition.”

          • joe from Lowell

            I’m curious why you think satisfying Republicans is the measure of one’s acceptability as an effective legislator.

            • LifeOntheFallLine

              It’s certainly not, but if he’s to be the king of sausage making and coalition building I need to see more evidence of place he’s compromised and times he’s won over stringent opposition.

              He’s a fine legislator, I won’t take that away from him, but the only decent article I could find about his skills as Amendment King was on Alternet and most (emphasis most) of what I saw there displays a savvy legislator who tacks reasonably sized amendments onto legislation already poised to pass.

              I’m not saying Hillary is the second coming of LBJ, but what I’ve read so far – and I welcome correction – hasn’t convinced me that Bernie is better at it.

            • random

              I’m curious why you think satisfying Republicans is the measure of one’s acceptability as an effective legislator.

              Uh because you can’t pass legislation without their votes??? Just a thought…..Sander isn’t Legislature Jesus, he’s can’t just pass laws through the House by his say-so.

              • joe from Lowell

                This would be a fine argument if Republican opposition to legislative proposals had fuck-all to do with the President’s approach to, and talent at, legislating.

                Sadly, it does not.

                The conversation we were having was about whether Sanders’ record as a legislator demonstrates him to be practical and flexible in his governing style. Noting that the Republicans block everything isn’t really relevant to that point.

                • random

                  Ok I do see the distinction there.

                  However his legislative record is not actually that awesome.

                  Getting a concession on the ACA is like having sex with the town prostitute. That tells us nothing about his legislative abilities, other than that he was in the Senate in 2009.

                  His other major amendment was to….audit the Fed. That tells us he might be good at working with Republicans to get us back on the gold standard.

                • joe from Lowell

                  Getting a concession on the ACA is like having sex with the town prostitute. That tells us nothing about his legislative abilities, other than that he was in the Senate in 2009.

                  Oh, sure, just look at how the public option sailed right through. Getting liberal/left programs of government-funded health care into the Affordable Care Act was like taking candy from a baby. I’m sure we all remember that.

                  His other major amendment was to….audit the Fed. That tells us he might be good at working with Republicans to get us back on the gold standard

                  Christ, this is pathetic.

    • FlipYrWhig

      The question seems to be, would the people who ditched Obama as a sellout be more willing to give Sanders room?

      But how big a number of people is that? And is it a good bet to care all that much what they think?

      • joe from Lowell

        Agreed.

        I’m commenting on this mostly out of a sociological interest. I made the same point above.

  • joe from Lowell

    It’s hardly impossible. If he wins in Iowa and New Hampshire and then either in South Carolina or Nevada, he could well be the nominee with the momentum that would create. If Donald Trump or Ted Cruz is the Republican nominee, which seems likely, then given the utter detestability of the Republican ticket, Sanders could win.

    If I had any artistic talent, I’d draw a cartoon of Bernie Sanders holding four needles in his left hand, lined up, and a thread in his right hand, with his tongue sticking out in concentration.

    • Gregor Sansa

      One of the needles is a hula hoop, one is a grommet, and he only needs 3 of them. Still hard but totally doable.

  • Murc

    It’s hardly impossible. If he wins in Iowa and New Hampshire and then either in South Carolina or Nevada, he could well be the nominee with the momentum that would create.

    Also too, you know that if Sanders wins Iowa and New Hampshire, the media will descend on Hillary like a pack of starving hyenas. I would bet cash money that a lot of people have “Repeat of 2008? Hillary’s goose is cooked!” articles already written, just waiting for specifics to be plugged in. CNN probably already has a graphic. Fox probably already has a much more misogynistic graphic.

    But I think Sanders has to win both to have a chance. If he loses Iowa I would almost say he’s toast.

    • Ktotwf

      I agree. Well said.

    • efgoldman

      If he loses Iowa I would almost say he’s toast.

      Either way, he loses SC and gets crushed on super Tuesday. He just hasn’t made a connection with minority voters.

      • Phil Perspective

        Says who? We’ll see what happens after IA and NH.

    • djw

      the media will descend on Hillary like a pack of starving hyenas. I would bet cash money that a lot of people have “Repeat of 2008? Hillary’s goose is cooked!” articles already written, just waiting for specifics to be plugged in.

      How many Clinton voters will be turned into Sanders voters by these stories?

      One of the many great strengths of Obama-the-campaigner is he learned to ignore this ‘who won the week’ nonsense.

      • Murc

        It doesn’t seem to be nonsense in a practical sense, though. Winning the early states and crafting a narrative that says “hey, I’m a winner” really does seem to materially affect Presidential primary. Having a media tailwind really does seem to help.

        • djw

          really does seem to materially affect Presidential primary

          Maybe, but I think there’s a lot of potential correlation/causation issues with this claim. At any rate, though, this isn’t the kind of race where this makes a whole lot of sense. If there were a bunch of more or less viable candidates that a lot of people were still deciding between and many weren’t strongly committed to one particular candidate. This race isn’t like that at all; we’ve got only two candidates, and they’re fairly distinct.

          • Gregor Sansa

            Who cares if it’s “early wins cause later ones” or “early wins indicate underlying strength that then comes into play in other states”? Either way, you look at early states as leading indicators.

            • random

              Either way, you look at early states as leading indicators.

              I think the logic here is sound, with the caveat that the population in those two states isn’t representative of the average US state.

            • djw

              The former claim is that the events in the early states actually change outcomes in later ones. The latter claim is that they give us more information about what that candidate’s strengths, but the specific character of that information might be best characterized rather differently. In this particular case, it might indicate that Sanders’ coalition is particularly well-suited for rural, overwhelmingly white states.

      • joe from Lowell

        How many Clinton voters will be turned into Sanders voters by these stories?

        The ones who support her only because they consider her inevitable and are voting for the winning team.

        The ones who, like African-Americans in 2008, like her opponent better but think he really doesn’t stand a chance.

        We’ll see how many people that is. As it is, roughly 2/7 of the people who told pollsters they supported Hillary in polls a year ago have moved to Sanders already. I don’t know where this notion that everyone currently preferring Hillary is a sure-shot Hillary voter is coming from.

  • xq

    I think you are overstating the importance of the perpetually disappointed wing of the Democratic party. Obama approval rating among Democrats is 80% (and some of the 20% oppose him from the right). That means 1) the base never actually abandoned Obama and 2) a lot of Sanders supporters are happy with Obama.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      The size of the Firebag wing of the Democratic Party has been consistently overestimated by (irrationally) fearful pragmatists in the Party. There just aren’t a whole lot of these people. They cannot nominate let alone elect a president.

      • random

        Guilty as charged.

        To be fair, left-purism has been responsible for unleashing a lot more right-wing perfidies in this country than the evil centrists. So the fear is both overblown but originates from a valid historical concern.

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    There’s certainly a left that would abandon Sanders in just this way. But they are a very small percentage of the electorate. Certainly too small to elect a president. Should Sanders win, I imagine the dynamic will be rather like it was when Obama was elected (amid hugely exaggerated hopes, if for somewhat different reasons). We’ll no doubt get Firedoglake 2.0, led by some latter-day Jane Hamsher (perhaps HA! Goodmam is fated to play this role). They will provide endless stupid commentary that this blog, e.g., will skewer. And a variety of folks (hopefully not this blog) will vastly overestimate the strength of these folks, blame predictable midterm losses on them, and darkly warn of primary challenges from the left in 2020 that will almost certainly not emerge.

    Yes, there are purists on the left, who’ll return to heightening the contradictions at the drop of a hat. But I see no reason to think that such people are a majority of Sanders supporters or that Sanders’s path to victory would be through somehow making more people think this way. Sanders is now attracting many voters because he is doing a better job of articulating issues that they care about than Clinton is. Should he be the nominee, the dynamic in the fall will be rather different. The alternative will no longer be Hillary Clinton. Presumably a lot of more moderate general election voters would pull the lever for Sanders not because they particularly like him, but because he’d be less bad than Cruz or Trump. Such folks are unlikely to greet a Sanders presidency with unfairly high expectations.

    • liberalrob

      There’s certainly a left that would abandon Sanders in just this way. But they are a very small percentage of the electorate. Certainly too small to elect a president.

      Al Gore would like a word with you about small numbers of fanatical voters swaying elections.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks

        But that’s not what we’re talking about. Yes, in an election that’s a virtual tie, small numbers of voters can make a huge difference (as 2000 taught us). But that’s not the topic of this post or of my comment. Erik suggests above that the disappointment of fanatical (to use your term) voters may come to define a Sanders presidency were he elected. My response was that such voters constitute too small number of voters to have that effect. If 1.6% of voters (Nader’s percentage of the vote in Florida) react as Erik suggests — and I don’t doubt they would — it would hardly be noticed. And that tiny group of voters is unlikely to behave any more rationally under a Clinton presidency.

  • Alex.S

    I’ve been told “political revolution” will fix everything.

    Also, no one believes he’ll really be able to do what he says so stop analyzing his policies.

    Often by the same person.

    • Gregor Sansa

      Not contradictory. If you’re looking at his health care plan and asking “where are the copays and ‘death panels’ and slow transitional periods that could make this realistic” then you don’t understand how it works. But if the counterfactual were measurable I’d happily be betting that Bernie leads to a more-Democratic congress than Hillary at least until 2023.

  • Alex.S

    I also remember in 2012 Obama was going to transform his grassroots organization into a PAC to have a pressure group that worked from the people.

  • Nixonlandia

    I’ve been seeing a different variety of Green Lanternism with some Clinton supporters. The argument seems to be that Sanders is the fuzzy idealist and Clinton is the pragmatist, who’ll roll up her sleeves and get things done. I just don’t see what legislation a Clinton administration could get passed a Congress that is even partially Republican controlled. This isn’t like 2009, when we could get an ACA. Anything gotten through that Congress is more likely to be an actively terrible piece of legislation rather than a compromised good. But I still hear that this is irrelevant because Hillary Clinton will lead with leadership

    • Ktotwf

      She knows how to get things passed! Whatever the hell that means against our current Congress.

    • Alex.S

      The most Green Lantern Clinton theory I’ve seen is acting like Obama in 2015 via executive orders.

      • djw

        The most Green Lantern Clinton theory I’ve seen is acting like Obama in 2015 via executive orders.

        Such a view may well be over-optimistic or even delusional, but it’s not green laternism; it stipulates no magic unspecified powers of the will to effect reality.

        • joe from Lowell

          Although the Supreme Court may just demonstrate the point, in the case of Obama’s second set of immigration EOs, that one can Green Lantern the Chief Executive power, too.

    • FlipYrWhig

      I think they’d both have to deal with sucky circumstances, but I think Team Hillary would use procedural ingenuity of the Harry Reid sort to try to get dinks and dunks down the field — executive orders, creative interpretations of some kind — while I think Team Bernie would try to barnstorm around the country Bully Pulpiting, get all excited about the numbers of people who came to the rallies, manage to flip no votes by doing so, get frustrated, point fingers, and complain.

      • Brien Jackson

        I worry that Sanders really, truly, believes that money in politics is the source of all of progressives problems and doesn’t realize, for instance, that American voters are genuinely leery of major, disruptive, changes to their healthcare plans or that white voting patterns are largely and increasingly motivated by racism. And that when he’s confronted with evidence that undercuts his worldview is response is, literally, to angrily declare “I’m right and everyone else is wrong.”

        http://www.nationaljournal.com/magazine/2014/06/18/im-right-everybody-else-is-wrong-clear-about-that

        • Gregor Sansa

          We get it, you’re concerned.

          (No, you’re not a troll, you’re a thoughtful commenter. I’m just saying that your concerns haven’t convinced me and don’t get more convincing the 4th time around.)

        • FlipYrWhig

          That pretty much lines up with my perception too.

    • random

      With the exception of the weird posts above about ‘the Amendment King’ somehow magically tricking the Tea Party to vote for socialism, this is the first time I’ve heard anyone proposing that either of Clinton or Sanders would be able to get much done legislatively.

      I thought everyone knew that there is not going to be any major legislation that isn’t bipartisan in the next 4 years. Do we not all actually agree on that point?

    • MDrew

      I just don’t see what legislation a Clinton administration could get passed a Congress that is even partially Republican controlled.

      There’s plenty she can “get passed” – they’ll pass a bunch of stuff, the question is, will she sign any of it?

      The more specific question is, will she be content for hers to be The Oval Office Where Bills Go To Die – i.e. not work with them and just let them pass whatever ideological bills they want and be the Veto Queen? Or will she work with *a GOP Congress* to find areas where there are things they are willing to do that she’s willing to sign? I.e., let the set the agenda, not necessarily stand completely in the way of it, and hope to influence its final shape it as best she can?

      Ask yourself – which puts her in a better political light and a better position for reelection: making gridlock her brand, or making cross-partisan cooperation her brand? And then ask yourself, if it turns out to be the latter, how do you expect to feel about the things that a GOP Congress passes that she signs?

  • mikeadamson

    As a Canadian, I don’t get a vote. If I did, and if I’m following the argument correctly, my choice would be between wackadoodle conservatism, continuation of establishment Democratism or progressivism. I believe significant change in Western politics is required in order to successfully address the problems of economic inequity, racism, etc. etc. My inclination would be to support Sanders for the nomination because Clinton doesn’t appear interested in the type of change I see necessary and to vote for the Democratic nominee because the Republican likely represents future disaster. Would Clinton get more done than Sanders as President because she’s a better fit for the system in place? Maybe but are the questions I believe fundamental addressed in any meaningful way? Probably not, likely a continuation of the neoliberalism that’s ruled for the past few decades. Is the opportunity to introduce a real progressive player into the mix worth more than the real possibility that Sanders disappoints his supporters because he can’t shepherd significant change? I think so, particularly when the liklihood of Clinton achieving much isn’t very encouraging either. Sometimes you accept less in order to ward off the worst outcome but sometimes you have to push the envelope a bit in order to get real change on the menu of possibilities. Not supporting Clinton against a Republican would be idiocy but supporting Sanders in the primary seems prudent if one thinks change is required. I wouldn’t expect miracles but if there was a time to start laying down some markers then this seems as good as any.

    • random

      I’m following the argument correctly, my choice would be between wackadoodle conservatism, continuation of establishment Democratism or progressivism.

      No, that’s not the choice.

      The choice is who you want to run in the election to stop the wackadoodle conservatives from controlling the entire US government.

      supporting Sanders in the primary seems prudent if one thinks change is required.

      Costing the GOP a 3rd loss in a row is the prudent choice if you think change is required.

      • liberalrob

        The GOP is irrelevant in deciding between Sanders or Clinton. Either one crushes any GOP nominee in the polls. If the polls are wrong and the GOP wins the presidency, it will not have mattered whether Sanders or Clinton was the Democratic nominee.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          I wish I shared your faith that the current polling will hold true come October and November. I think, especially if something big and weird happens between now and then but even if it doesn’t, that the final margin will be much closer than it is now

      • joe from Lowell

        Costing the GOP a 3rd loss in a row is the prudent choice if you think change is required.

        It is far from obvious, however, that the candidate with lower approval, a worse reputation among the media elite, and inferior match-up numbers with the Republican candidate, is the most likely to deal them that 3rd loss.

        I could be convinced either way that Clinton or Sanders is more electable; it’s a very close thing. It seems to me that the differences in electability between the two are a great deal smaller than the size of the built-in advantage the Democratic nominee enjoys in a Presidential election these days.

  • rewenzo

    Sanders identifies “money in politics” as the obstacle to progressive governance. Is this…true? I’m not knowledgeable about the role of the money in politics, so I’m happy to be schooled by those better informed, but it seems to me we were fucked long before Citizens United and SuperPACs. Leaving aside the Lessigian notion that he can alter this, and leaving aside that his focus on this is kind of myopic, I think he’s misdiagnosed the problem.

    The real problem is our constitution, and nobody seems interested in changing that.

    • twbb

      It’s an obstacle, but Sanders and Lessig place way too much emphasis on it. See, e.g., American Crossroads, or Charles Koch’s recent complaint that he can’t buy as much influence as he thought he could. Like you say, look at pre-Citizens United America. It wasn’t exactly a Platonic ideal of governance.

    • postmodulator

      It’s interactive, isn’t it? If our constitutional system didn’t have so many de facto and de jure veto points, money wouldn’t matter as much; you’d have to bribe too many people. With the way things are now, an interested party can protect a multi-million dollar business by giving a couple of Redskins tickets to some staffer. (Not a hypothetical.)

    • ASV

      I think the lower you go in the system, the more impact it can have. The story of Wisconsin judicial elections in the last decade, for example, is a story entirely about corporate money. But it’s a different story at the presidential level, and probably congressional.

    • FlipYrWhig

      I think it’s the way he makes a very tidy story to explain all of American politics: it only serves the moneyed, especially Wall Street, who wants to screw us all and stop us from doing anything about it by buying off the politicians. I think big money warps politics, certainly, but there are a lot of problems that big money hasn’t caused.

    • EliHawk

      Big money matters in a lot of ways, but Sanders vastly overstates it, practically describing it as having a mysterious veto over national politics. Rather, there are the general problems you have in any political system, exacerbated by the number of veto points in the American system, which is in turn exacerbated by things like the midterms that shorten everyone’s time horizons and undermine mandates. Beyond the immediate confines of the government structure, politics involves competing interests and institutions that are invested in the status quo or uncertain of immediately changing it.

      Also, governing is straight up complicated, and involved difficult decisions. Bernie rails at Goldman Sachs treasury secretaries and not putting anyone in jail, but Obama actually had to govern in the middle of a financial crisis.
      Obama and his team prioritized stabilizing the economy, and the financial system, over the feel good act of letting the banks and AIG collapse in 2008. (They also saved the auto industry, which was super unpopular at the time but helped him win reelection 4 years later). They passed a complex financial regulation bill that’s led Wall Street to throw hundreds of millions of dollars at defeating them in 2010, 2012, and 2014, and try to undermine it at every turn. Manhattan and Brooklyn’s US Attorneys offices are full of ambitious prosecutors who are putting Albany and FIFA under a microscope and would love to be the next Elliot Spitzer. But they can’t, because most of what ended up being done was not illegal at the time.

      Bernie pedals easy answers to complex problems, and his money blaming is part of that. Sure, plenty of money in politics is about increasing those veto points, but it’s mostly stopping this individual regulation or that level of scrutiny. The reason we don’t immediately break up all of Wall Street or suddenly have the American NHS is because causing enormous upheaval in large sectors of the American economy and way of would result in enormous upheaval. Plenty of doctors, medical personnel, hospitals, and the rest would be opposed, independent of any Washington lobbying campaign. Moreover, other countries and economies developed their own systems, gradually and over time, in fits and starts and unique to their own circumstances. Bernie often pedals a fantasy that if it wasn’t for Citizens United, we could flip a switch and become Denmark. It just isn’t so.

      • Rob in CT

        Yeah, agree with this. I saw some answer he gave about political polarization being a “media creation” and a “function of money in politics” and just had to shake my head. No, that’s not why we’re polarized. There are real, fundamental disagreements at work.

        Citizens United sucks and we should continue to try and reduce the ability to buy politicians, but this is borderline fantasy stuff.

        The question is whether Bernie actually believes it. I hope not.

  • slothrop

    Bernie is exciting because he offers a transcendent dimension to American politics sorely lacking since Eugene V Debs, and that is socialism. I’m aware that “socialism” for him means something like the Danish SP of the late 70s; but, you have to start somewhere.

  • Robert Cruickshank

    As someone who’s been there before – working for a Sanders-like mayor of a large city in the Pacific Northwest – I think it all depends on how Sanders handles himself and his policy goals.

    If he is seen as fighting for what he believes in but gets stymied by others, then the left will understand and stay happy with Bernie. But he also has to use the tools that are solely at his disposal to do what his voters want.

    Meaning: DOJ prosecutions of Wall Street. An end to the revolving door at Treasury and putting someone with Elizabeth Warren’s values there. Tearing up the TPP and negotiating fair trade deals. And so on.

    President Sanders would take some knocks from the base for “not getting things done” but if it’s Congress that’s seen as the problem, then it plays for him as as it played for Reagan: favorably. It’s also possible that President Sanders gets further than people expect simply because he is the president and it’s not Green Lanternism to say that he won’t be blocked 100% of the time. That’s particularly true if he gets elected in November with coattails delivering the Senate back to Democrats and cutting or eliminating the GOP majority in the House.

    That said…the Democratic establishment would also want to destroy him. It’s entirely possible that even if there is a Democratic Congress, they slow-walk or refuse to enact his agenda, all in hopes of undermining him, making him look like a failure, and setting up a primary fight for 2020. That’s exactly what happened to us in our Pacific Northwestern city. But that only succeeded because we made some of our own errors and didn’t always stand with the base when we needed to. On the other hand, those Democrats would also be undermining their own position if they did so, as several City Council members discovered, much to my glee.

    In the end, if Sanders fights for what he promised, and doesn’t cave in but makes it clear that any defeats are caused by Congress and not by his own failure to fight, then the base will probably be OK with it. But he’ll also face constant sniping, as Corbyn has, and he’ll need to be very disciplined and professional in dealing with it (which Corbyn’s team hasn’t always done). Maybe we’ll get a chance to actually find out…

    • Gregor Sansa

      Thanks. Good analysis.

    • djw

      I really don’t think there’s any good comparison to be made with McGinn and Sanders. McGinn really was, in their eyes, an outsider and usurper, whereas Sanders is a well-liked, well-connected effective legislator they’ve been caucusing with for ages. I also think McGinn’s biggest fans (and I was a fan) overstate the extent to which his conflict with the council was ideological.

    • random

      Green Lanternism to say that he won’t be blocked 100% of the time. That’s particularly true if he gets elected in November with coattails delivering the Senate back to Democrats and cutting or eliminating the GOP majority in the House.

      It actually is Green Lanternism if we’re talking about any legislation that isn’t bipartisan and centrist in nature. That second sentence you wrote is such Green Lanternism that it’s visible from space.

      That said…the Democratic establishment would also want to destroy him.

      No they wouldn’t.

      It’s entirely possible that even if there is a Democratic Congress, they slow-walk or refuse to enact his agenda, all in hopes of undermining him, making him look like a failure, and setting up a primary fight for 2020.

      None of that is anywhere in the ballpark of ‘entirely possible’ and doesn’t really have a rational motive. Sabotaging your own President for 4 years and calling him a weakling doesn’t give you a valid primary challenge in the next election, it just makes your party lose the White House.

      In the end, if Sanders fights for what he promised,

      The President is practically and legally obligated to do a number of things that are necessarily going to disappoint his followers.

      Just by the time Sanders is being sworn in, he will necessarily already have folded on his promises in regards to campaign finance. It only goes downhill from there.

  • postmodulator

    I just want to point out that if the race comes down to Trump vs. Sanders, then we will have two candidates who, in my opinion, didn’t believe they could win when they entered the race.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      what do you think that says about us, the voters?

    • Gregor Sansa

      Certainly nobody else did.

  • witlesschum

    Clinton’s campaign attacking Sanders today for being too quick to want to normalize relations with Iran certainly helped refill a bit of my enthusiasm for NotClinton.

    • pillsy

      Clinton’s campaign seems to have decided to go back to the playbook they used against Obama in 2008.

      The wisdom of this decision escapes me.

      • random

        Well the exact quote from Sanders was ” “I think what we’ve got to do is move as aggressively as we can to normalize relations with Iran.”” Which is decidedly less-wise than Clinton pointing out that he’s being a bit naive.

      • MDrew

        The wisdom of this decision escapes me.

        The wisdom of the scorpion’s decision to sting the frog escapes me, too, but then that’s the point of the story, innit?

  • Candlbox

    I know I’m 190 comments behind already and this point has probably been made…

    Who was the last president who hasn’t been accused by the ideological base of being a sellout? Likewise, are we to think that a year into Hillary Clinton’s first term, the left will be rallied around her?

    Yes, Sanders’ support among the base is likely to be fleeting, but that’s likely the case no matter who takes office a year from now. I think the more serious questions are about how quickly a Sanders’ presidency could get up to speed and how effectively it could govern.

    • djw

      Who was the last president who hasn’t been accused by the ideological base of being a sellout?

      All of them?

  • pillsy

    Of course once Senator Obama became President Obama and he had to compromise with his own cranky caucus, not to mention racebaiting Republicans, he was almost immediately abandoned by the left. By the summer of 2009, many on the left had given up on Obama. We saw what happened in the 2010 midterms. By that point, Obama was just another sellout mainstream corporate Democrat. Which might even be true to some extent, but a mainstream Democrat is all he ever was. Even on his mainstream positions though, he had to engage in deep compromises. Yet that still created the ACA, a very real policy achievement that makes Obama the most successful liberal president since Lyndon Johnson.

    I’m hardly a Sandernista, but this argument is almost literally self-refuting. If Obama was the most successful liberal President in 50 years despite the fact that people who thought he would be a transformational figure got disillusioned and abandoned him. Why will this be any more of a crippling problem for a hypothetical Sanders Presidency?

    • LWA

      You said it better than I.

      I think it also needs to be pointed out that with the current fever gripping the GOP, there isn’t anyone left of Cruz who would not be subject to the same crazed and irrationally self-defeating intransigence that Obama faces.

      I mean, really, does anyone imagine there could possibly be a 21st century version of the mythical Tip and Ronnie blarneyfest? (which never really happened anyway, but whatever).

      There are probably valid reasons to prefer Clinton to Sanders, but the ability to “work” with the Tire Rims and Anthrax Caucus isn’t one of them.

    • TheTragicallyFlip

      Also: Is Loomis pushing the “angry progressives staying home cost Dems the House” theory of 2010?

      That’s really disappointing, there is no evidence that this explains the 2010 losses. Liberals turned out to vote for Team D. But all the weakly aligned D voters from 2006 didn’t show up, and the angried up Right did.

      • MDrew

        “angried up,” I like that.

      • Rob in CT

        Bingo.

        Leftier than thou purists on the internet (or real life, when I very rarely encounter them) are annoying, but they almost never are the actual problem.

        Weakly attached D-leaners (people who are, in my experience, actually MORE likely to buy into “Green Lanternism”) are The Problem there. They don’t fucking show up unless it’s a Presidential election, or there is some particularly bad/unusual thing to vote against (Iraq War, 2006 mid-terms). These are people who figured they’d done what needed doing in ’08 and woke up again in 2012, vaguely annoyed that everything wasn’t fixed.

  • manual

    Weird circling of the wagons going on.

    He would appoint far better people to the executive agencies. So instead someone from The Street doing economic and financial regulatory policy you might have people from EPI or other economically liberal organizations. For the Federal Reserve you would have people focused on employment rather than phantom inflation.

    What the executive branch does is extremely important and who is fills those positions is, too.

    That said, I think there would be some disillusion but I think Sanders would probably focus on the obstruction in Congress and their failure to do anything more than Obama did; Obama was wrongly convinced for about 6 years of his presidency that he could break the “Republican fever.” I dont think Bernie has any delusions as such.

    • postpartisandepression

      Obama was wrongly convinced for about 6 years of his presidency that he could break the “Republican fever.” I dont think Bernie has any delusions as such.

      First Obama was a complete neophyte when he became the “great hope” of the democratic party. The sum total of his experience was as a part time legislator and a part time community college teacher. Of course he failed to deliver. His whole time on the lege was spent trying to become a “kool kid” and he thought that would work with with national republicans and they would fall in love with him just like the dem primary voters did. This is not Sanders background and he would be much more successful from day one.

      As for Obama giving us the ACA – don’t any of you remember how bitterly congress was complaining because he was so hands off when they were struggling to get something passed. It was as though he did not care (and that was true). We are so lucky that Boehner (or his caucus) was stupid enough to say no to Obama when he was willing to gut social security to pass the debt ceiling. Obama is at best a moderate republican while Bernie is a true liberal so no matter what he does it will be better than Obama.

      Having said all this I am and always have been a Hillary supporter. That is because she has the experience required to deal with all that crap that the repugs are going to throw at her and win. She gets a bad rap for not being liberal but all of her stands are to the left of anything Obama has done. She would not have appointed a “Timmeh” to deal with the financial crisis and she would have made sure americans and not banks were bailed out.

      So Obama did just what I expected – took advantage of the wild eyed innocence of new primary voters while his agenda was “how do I get ahead and make the really Kool guys like me”. It is only now that he has faced the fact that republicans are never going to ask him to join them that he doing things that really make them mad. Bernie would never think that way and so even if Bernie is the nominee I will happily pull the lever for him while I had to hold my nose to pull it for Obama. But GO HILLARY I can’t wait for the first woman to show them how its really done.

  • LifeOntheFallLine

    The real question is who will ask for someone further to the left of Bernie to primary him after his first term like Bernie did Obama. How old will Nader be in 2020?

  • Eli Rabett

    As Clinton said

    But, with all due respect, to start over again with a whole new debate is something that I think would set us back. The Republicans just voted last week to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and thank goodness, President Obama vetoed it and saved Obamacare for the American people.

    So you want to open Pandora’s box?

  • Davis X. Machina

    There are 7000 jobs in the Plum Book.

    How many of them are destined to be filled by the same bod, regardless of which Democrat wins? Or are simply carried over?

    The pool of available talent with any relevant experience is the same — ex-Clinton 1 people, and ex-Obama people.

  • MDrew

    So the basic logic here is Avoid raising the hopes and enthusiasm of the left, because they’re sure ultimately to be disappointed, and that results in…

    …what problem, again?

  • Zaphod X

    The relative importance of the various presidential actions and their effectiveness varies wildly, subject to multiple factors, not least of which is the relative perceived stability of the nation as a whole. In a circumstance of relative economic stability and the absence of a fear-inducing foreign threat, coupled with a gridlocked congress, I can see the argument that appointments are the most important action a president can do.

    This of course is not always the case. In the case of a catistrophic financial environment, and/or a state of war, what’s important changes, and quickly. When the majority of the American population is fearful for their own personal survival, and that of the nation as a whole, they look for answers, and the President can use their position to address the nation directly, and generate support for their solutions, bringing tremendous pressure on Congress to act on their directive.to look at it with a coldly pragmatic approach, executive leadership has tremendous power in that, handled properly, it can harness the power of fear into affecting substantial change, with long lasting results. This of course depends on the skill set of the individual, and how it plays with the circumstances on the ground. FDR serves as a tremendous example of this, with the twin stresses of the Great Depression and the Second World War enabling him to promote and affect massive changes, many of which remain with us today. Had he proposed these in relative peacetime and relative economic stability, never, ever would they have passed, or even considered.

    As things stand, it is not far from out the question to see in the next four years a sharp, significant economic downturn. On the global stage, far too many situations simmer that could boil over into something frightening at any given moment. It seems likely that the next President will be faced with a situation that gives great fear to the majority of the American population, be it an economic downturn, and/or a (at minimum) regional conflict in which material and human resources are required in substantial quantities. This will result in a demand for action:?the immediate, of course, and long term solutions. The worse the stressors, the greater the amount of things people are willing to support for resolution of the immediate situation, and alterations of existing structures. Sanders is smart enough and impassioned enough to serve as an effective leader in this circumstance. He also had long experience working within the system and he has an excelkent knowledge of history. Moreover, there is a substantial lack of hatred for him, by anyone, and that is of great import. there is great hatred for Cruz, Trump, and Clunton; hatred so entrenched it would make it amazingly difficult for any of them to enact change, even in the face of a clear and present danger. Not so with Sanders.

    All things to consider what sort of impact a Sanders presidency might have.

    • Gregor Sansa

      Thanks.

    • Sanders is smart enough and impassioned enough to serve as an effective leader in this circumstance.

      Smart is helpful. Impassioned, maybe. But these are hardly the only determine re in such a situation. I see little to prefer over Clinton other than some policy goals and inclinations.

      I really don’t know how he’d be as a leader in those circumstances. I feel I have a somewhat better view of how Clinton would likely be (and if she goes for her worst I will sign a lot. )

      He also had long experience working within the system and he has an excelkent knowledge of history.

      No executive experience. I’m not saying that makes him hopeless, but excellent knowledge of history really doesn’t mean much. Similarly, is way different being a senator than a member of an administration. You can easily flourish at one and suck at the other.

      Moreover, there is a substantial lack of hatred for him, by anyone, and that is of great import. there is great hatred for Cruz, Trump, and Clunton; hatred so entrenched it would make it amazingly difficult for any of them to enact change, even in the face of a clear and present danger. Not so with Sanders.

      Oh this is just delusional. There are always epic levels of hate for the democratic pres. HRC has positives in proportion to her closeness to the presidency.

      Look, th e competency question doesn’t really favour Sanders, though it also doesn’t hurt him. He has a plausible case that he’d be fine with a couple of worries (experience, ability to form and manage a team, temperament) that are worth noting or addressing. The line that he’s somehow knowably SuperPrez is ridiculous.

      • djw

        Yeah, the right has (quite sensibly) left him alone so far. The notion that there won’t be some serious hatred for him *if he becomes the Democratic nominee* is from another planet.

        • joe from Lowell

          I am so not falling for that one again!

          One of my reasons for supporting Obama over Clinton in 2008 was my impression that Hillary was so deeply loathed by the Republicans that they would spend the next eight years throwing tantrums and blocking everything in sight just to spite her, while the more unifying figure of Barack Obama would meet with more success in his dealings across the aisle.

          Not so much, as it turns out.

        • Zaphod X

          Sure, if he wins the nomination, the right will swing into action to do their damnedest to whip up hatred for Sanders. But they will have to start from scratch, and I think the way he has conducted himself politically will make it far more difficult to get those fires burning bright. His age will help. And, sadly, his gender will help as well.

          With Hillary Clinton, the right has had over 25 years to build up an institutionalized, reflexive hatred. Moreover, they have done the same with Bill Clinton. In many parts of the country, the mere word “Clinton” evokes hatred and derision. Limbaugh and Rove did their work remarkably well. Should HRC get the nomination, the right will be able to whip up an inferno of hatred with remarkable ease – the fire is already burning fairly bright, and it won’t take much to get it to tremendous size.

          • djw

            But they will have to start from scratch, and I think the way he has conducted himself politically will make it far more difficult to get those fires burning bright.

            I’m deeply skeptical these will present significant roadblocks. The notion that his political self-identification strategy won’t be much of a problem in this regard strikes me as particularly delusional. It’s fantastic that the word “socialist” has lost much of its stigma for those under 40, but most voters aren’t under 40.

            • And really, the right has built up a reflexive hatred of Any Democratic President.

      • Zaphod X

        :) I don’t believe at any point I said Sanders is knowably SuperPrez, and that’s not what I’m trying to say. The main argument I’m making is that the relative potential of power held by the executive branch can vary, based on context, and that in circumstances that create fear, be it economic distress or a state of war, the Executive Branch can suddenly have considerably more power, as by definition you look to one person for answers and leadership.

        My secondary argument is that from what I have seen of Sanders, in a crisis situation, he could be a strong leader. He has an obvious confidence, he’s a strong orator. He also comes across as genuine. I think he could inspire trust. Get that trust, get the support of the populace to trust you to lead them out of crisis, and you get all kinds of sway, potentially for years. Look at FDR.

        What made me type on my phone for an hour in the middle of the night was seeing the assertion that the most important thing a President can do is make appointments. Sometimes, yes, sometimes no. In certain circumstances, the Executive Branch can harness a great deal of power, and correctly yielded, impact considerable national change (FDR). Sanders has the potential to do this. Not saying he’ll be SuperPrez, not even saying he would automatically succeed in a certain circumstance. But the potential is there.

        • I don’t believe at any point I said Sanders is knowably SuperPrez,

          Reread your third paragraph.

          Get that trust, get the support of the populace to trust you to lead them out of crisis, and you get all kinds of sway, potentially for years. Look at FDR.

          Er…this is pretty weird.

          What made me type on my phone for an hour in the middle of the night was seeing the assertion that the most important thing a President can do is make appointments.

          That was clearly an overstatement, as regulations, executive management (FEMA) and foreign policy are equally important.

          Sometimes, yes, sometimes no. In certain circumstances, the Executive Branch can harness a great deal of power, and correctly yielded, impact considerable national change (FDR). Sanders has the potential to do this. Not saying he’ll be SuperPrez, not even saying he would automatically succeed in a certain circumstance. But the potential is there.

          To the degree he has that potential, it’s pretty clear that Clinton has that potential. There’s no real way to test it, so it’s not really worth arguing too much.

          Some points are worth discussing: Will Clinton make some Mark Penn picks and how much damage will they cause? Will Sanders be able and willing to draw from the deep democratic talent pool? There’s reason to be concerned about both questions, but they are hardly done deals either.

          • Zaphod X

            I reread my third paragraph. Twice. Perhaps you should re-read it more carefully. I say that Sanders has attributes and background to be a successful, trusted leader in a crisis situation, more so than others. Not sure that means SuperPrez

            You thought that other part was weird, eh? Leaders that bring stability to a chaotic system gain political capital that can then be spent for good (FDR) or ill (Hitler, etc). That’s reality.

      • joe from Lowell

        No executive experience.

        Well, except for the eight years he spent as a chief executive.

        • Thom

          deleted.

          • joe from Lowell

            Ever run a City Hall?

            The size of the city can make a big difference in terms of the issues you are exposed to, but the question here isn’t about that. It’s about executive experience as it relates to being effective in the management of an executive office.

          • I really did mean “on a presidential scale”. HRC is extra up for having been in the White House so much. Burlington 27 years ago doesn’t stack up much next to that.

            But I’ll happily give him an “extremely limited executive experience” point.

    • FlipYrWhig

      When the majority of the American population is fearful for their own personal survival, and that of the nation as a whole, they look for answers, and the President can use their position to address the nation directly, and generate support for their solutions, bringing tremendous pressure on Congress to act on their directive

      And Republicans in Congress will say, “Hell no,” as happened with guns after Newtown. Then what? What happens when the “tremendous pressure” is ignored? More talking?

      • Zaphod X

        In certain circumstances, public pressure is so great that you can’t say “hell, no.” A shooting is one thing. A substantial terrorist attack is another. An assault on an American military base still another. Take Pearl Harbor. By the time Pearl Harbor happened, there had been a Swastika hanging from the Eiffel Tower for over a year. All it took was several hours of bombing and strafing to render advocates of isolation impotent.

  • politicalfootball

    I’ve only sampled the thread, but I remain puzzled by this idea that there’s something wrong with Sanders because a certain type of liberal is inevitably going to be pissed off at him. Hasn’t LGM spent much of the last seven years mocking that subset of liberals, and saying that Obama is a quite passable president despite their complaints?

    This is Erik in the OP:

    But I think my bigger concern about a Sanders presidency is that his base would almost certainly abandon him within a year.

    And this is Scott:

    he’s not going to be able to accomplish a lot of big left-wing things, so his stated positions don’t matter. It’s not like the “Didn’t. Even. Try” crowd gives credit to Obama for trying to close Gitmo and failing.

    This would be as unfair to Bernie as it was to Obama, but it would absolutely happen.

    And so what?

    One can reasonably ask about a potential president’s efficacy in getting her program enacted, but to suggest that people who share Sanders’ political priorities ought not want him to win – well, that’s a tough sell. This is the sort of triple-bankshot strategery that LGM normally ridicules. Are we really supposed to believe that Hillary would be better at enacting Sanders’ political agenda than Sanders would be? (I mean, it’s not impossible, but it seems to require a bit more explanation than is being given here.)

    Erik’s template for Democrats who like Bernie’s policy prescriptions more than Hillary’s seems to be:

    1. Hope Hillary wins
    2. ??????
    3. Profit!

    Sure, some Sanders supporters are going to be disappointed. But as the wise woman said: Haters gonna hate.

    • Rob in CT

      Not that I’m in total agreement with Erik, but I was thinking his template is:

      1) Hope Bernie at least pulls Hillary left (already seems to be happening) or Bernie wins;
      2) Hope the Democrat wins the general;
      3) Slog on as best we can, against GOP obstruction in congress.

      On point #3, he has some concerns about Sanders. I see them, but am not really swayed by them.

      • politicalfootball

        That doesn’t seem right to me. Erik’s entire post is about the drawbacks of a Sanders presidency. He begins thus:

        What does a Sanders presidency look like? I doubt it looks all the great.

        And ends thus:

        If Sanders’ allies turn on him for the inevitable compromising he will have to make on his goals, his presidency will truly be doomed.

        The obvious question is: “doomed” compared to what? Not “all that great” compared to what? What is our better alternative?

        It’s not completely clear, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Erik is not saying a Trump or Cruz or Rubio presidency would be better. Maybe he’s stumping here for O’Malley. I dunno.

        Or maybe he’s just saying that the next president is screwed no matter what. But why talk about Sanders if that is the case?

        No, I think it’s pretty clear he’s trying to say that people who share Bernie’s policy goals should be happier if Hillary wins instead. Which seems … like a stretch.

        • Rob in CT

          Ok, what he’s really doing is being cranky about fickle voters. Bernie’s just the jump-off point.

          • politicalfootball

            Huh. Okay. Then why all the business about appointments? The entire post is framed as a discussion of the drawbacks of a Sanders presidency. If the fickle voters won’t “doom” a Sanders presidency, then why does Erik say they will?

            If Sanders’ allies turn on him [which Erik says is guaranteed] … his presidency will truly be doomed.

            I see Erik weighs in below. Honest: I think I’m just reading the post, not reading anything into it. I use quotes and I ask questions about the parts that seem confusing or contradictory.

            • All I am saying is that a) I have some concerns about Sanders’ competence as an executive and b) that the left is fickle and will turn on Sanders immediately, like they did with Obama and I think more relevantly (which no one is discussing here) on DeBlasio.

              There is nothing more to read into this about my preferences.

              • politicalfootball

                Fair enough – thanks.

                And as has been guessed, I deleted my own comment to make it a response to Rob, as I had meant to do originally. (You were right on top of it, though. I didn’t leave the erroneous comment up for more than a few minutes, I don’t think.)

              • indefinitelee

                I’m a bit fuzzy on the whole “left abandoning Obama” thing.

                Wasn’t OFA supposed to be that huge organization pressuring elected officials? Never happened. I don;t know if it was because people stopped caring or organizers stopped organizing.

  • You are reading way too much into this.

    • joe from Lowell

      This is a like a brilliant joke, because without knowing who you’re replying too, I’m sitting here reading things into it to try to figure out what you’re renouncing.

      • That’s weird–I was replying to a specific comment and now it’s gone.

        • joe from Lowell

          Commenters can delete their own comments by editing, removing the text, and hitting the Edit button.

      • djw

        If this were the Coates thread, it would have worked quite well as a vague meta-comment.

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