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A catastrophe in the making

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Help me Obi Wan Kenobi:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, hear constant warnings from allies about congressional losses in November if the party nominates Bernie Sanders for president. Democratic House members share their Sanders fears on text-messaging chains. Bill Clinton, in calls with old friends, vents about the party getting wiped out in the general election.

And officials in the national and states parties are increasingly anxious about splintered primaries on Super Tuesday and beyond, where the liberal Mr. Sanders edges out moderate candidates who collectively win more votes.

Dozens of interviews with Democratic establishment leaders this week show that they are not just worried about Mr. Sanders’s candidacy, but are also willing to risk intraparty damage to stop his nomination at the national convention in July if they get the chance. Since Mr. Sanders’s victory in Nevada’s caucuses on Saturday, The Times has interviewed 93 party officials — all of them superdelegates, who could have a say on the nominee at the convention — and found overwhelming opposition to handing the Vermont senator the nomination if he arrived with the most delegates but   fell short of a majority.

Seriously this doesn’t sound good at all:

This article is based on interviews with the 93 superdelegates, out of 771 total, as well as party strategists and aides to senior Democrats about the thinking of party leaders. A vast majority of those superdelegates — whose ranks include federal elected officials, former presidents and vice presidents and D.N.C. members — predicted that no candidate would clinch the nomination during the primaries, and that there would be a brokered convention fight in July to choose a nominee.

In a reflection of the establishment’s wariness about Mr. Sanders, only nine of the 93 superdelegates interviewed said that Mr. Sanders should become the nominee purely on the basis of arriving at the convention with a plurality, if he was short of a majority.

“I’ve had 60 years experience with Democratic delegates — I don’t think they will do anything like that,” said former Vice President Walter Mondale, who is a superdelegate. “They will each do what they want to do, and somehow they will work it out. God knows how.”

As for his own vote, Mr. Mondale, the 1984 Democratic presidential nominee, said, “I vote for the person I think should be president.”

Breaking news: Walter Mondale is still alive.

This sentence is rather ambiguous: “Only nine of the 93 superdelegates interviewed said that Mr. Sanders should become the nominee purely on the basis of arriving at the convention with a plurality, if he was short of a majority.” The Bernie Bros will of course read this as 90% of the interviewed superdelegates saying they won’t vote for their Lord and Savior on a second ballot. I think it’s a much more nuanced claim, but I have a feeling nuance is going to be defenestrated fairly quickly in this process.

Moving right along:

In recent weeks, Democrats have placed a steady stream of calls to Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who opted against running for president nearly a year ago, suggesting that he can emerge as a white knight nominee at a brokered convention — in part on the theory that he may carry his home state in a general election.

“If you could get to a convention and pick Sherrod Brown, that would be wonderful, but that’s more like a novel,” Representative Steve Cohen of Tennessee said. “Donald Trump’s presidency is like a horror story, so if you can have a horror story you might as well have a novel.”

Others are urging former President Barack Obama to get involved to broker a truce — either among the four moderate candidates or between the Sanders and establishment wings, according to three people familiar with those conversations.

William Owen, a D.N.C. member from Tennessee, suggested that if Mr. Obama was unwilling, his wife, Michelle, could be nominated as vice president, giving the party a figure they could rally behind.

“She’s the only person I can think of who can unify the party and help us win,” he said. “This election is about saving the American experiment as a republic. It’s also about saving the world. This is not an ordinary election.”

Oh for crissakes.

Read the rest of the thing if you dare, but it’s all a cluster of elephantine proportions.

(My own view is that if Sanders has any kind of solid plurality then not nominating him would be suicidal, whatever you think of that decision on the merits).

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