Amid increasing pressure from prominent Democrats for Bernie Sanders to drop out of the presidential race and “unite the party” behind Hillary Clinton, prospective First Lady Jane Sanders has been a frequent and fervent surrogate for Bernie’s continued quest. On Monday night’s All In with Chris Hayes, Mrs. Sanders was asked to respond to the criticism that taking donations on the basis that Bernie could actually become the nominee is essentially fraud, and she offered a rather odd defense of the move.
After throwing copious shade at liberal economist Paul Krugman, who has been a leading Bernie concern-troll, Mrs. Sanders defended her husband by invoking the dead-end candidacies of John Kasich and Ted Cruz, and alluded to some other eleventh-hour possibility (emphasis mine):
Chris Hayes: There are others who basically say that the Sanders campaign, by soliciting donations to make Bernie Sanders the nominee, is essentially running a con on its donors. What do you say?
Jane Sanders: Really? What is John Kasich doing, what that is Ted Cruz been doing? No, we’re running on the issues. You know that. I don’t take Paul Krugman seriously anymore. I used to. I think there are a lot of other, better economists and people who seem to have better critical thinking. So that’s a disappointment. But I don’t read him so I can’t tell you what he says anymore. I do think that we are running on the issues and Bernie — we just had a fantastic rally this afternoon, we’re in Indianapolis, we’re having another one. Everywhere we go, people say, please keep fighting for us, you’re our voice, don’t give up. We owe it to the people that have been part of this movement to take it all the way to the end and to work really hard. Everybody knows, anything can happen in politics.
This is some pretty poor salesmanship, because what John Kasich and Ted Cruz are doing is, in fact, a futile exercise in denial. They almost certainly will not keep Trump from gaining a majority of delegates, and even if they do, neither of them will become the nominee. The guy who blocks another guy at the bar always goes home alone. It’s also a little bit amusing trying to figure out what Krugman’s criticism of Bernie has to do with his credentials as an economist.
But the most interesting nugget was at the end there, because given the rest of what’s been swirling around BernieWorld, it sure seems like many of Sanders’ followers, and Jane Sanders as well, remain hopeful that some sort of catastrophe, possibly FBI-related, will befall Hillary’s candidacy. It won’t, and I doubt Bernie himself is under any illusion that it will. At best, he might see himself as a safety valve for such an unlikelihood.
What critics like Krugman fail to recognize is the public diplomacy involved in what Bernie is trying to accomplish. Unless something crazy happens, there will be a floor fight in only the most technical sense, but the minute Bernie lays down arms and says he’s not really trying to win the nomination, he gives up the only real leverage he has to get his policy passions, and those of his followers, into the Democratic Party platform. If he goes into the convention with a mess of delegates, but having conceded to Hillary, Bernie will have earned lip service for his policies, and for the time and energy his followers invested in him. Bernie’s no dummy, he surely knows that he’s not really going to flip all those superdelegates after Hillary won more votes, but he also knows that a lever is no good unless you push on it.
Have a tip we should know? email@example.com