If all it took to get my vote was being a 73-year-old dude who’s grooving out to the folk songs he used to shout-sing in a Vermont jam band, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) would have my vote.
If you click on the audio button on the lower right, you can hear him shush the reporter who is playing his old music and say “Shhh. I’m getting in the groove here!” What’s not to love, really? If you didn’t know he was a sitting U.S. Senator, there is no way you’d put that on a list of 100 possible occupations for the man.
The thing is, though, that Sanders is a democratic socialist challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president. If he were running as an independent, he might actually pose some danger to her. But mounting a weak challenge from within the party will not do anything other than help her. Which makes you think: Did Team Clinton put the lovable socialist folk singer up to this for some reason? Consider the following:
1) He is one of very few people in the political world who can make Hillary seem younger and more in touch with normal people
Hillary Clinton is part of a legendarily distrustful family embroiled in a huge cash-funneling scandal. That’s just the latest scandal. The scandals are longstanding and ubiquitous, from Whitewater land deals in the 1990s to setting up a private server to run her email correspondence while she served as Secretary of State. Now more than 20 years after her husband was president, Hillary Clinton is getting up there in age. While a slew of younger men and women are throwing their hats in the ring for the other team, Hillary Clinton, as a friend of mine put it, “is going to have to choose Justin Bieber as a running mate just in order to avoid looking like the crypt keeper.” But you know who makes you look sprightly and youthful by comparison? Bernie Sanders. Harry Reid might have also made her look relatively better, but, then again, so would quite a few Democratic Senators. There’s not a lot of bench in that party.
2) He is one of very few people in the political world who can make Hillary’s politics seem more moderate
More importantly, though, Sanders helps Hillary Clinton seem more moderate. Yes, she’s one of the wealthiest women in the world and she’s trying to raise $2.5 billion (with a b) to vanquish GOP opponents. Yes, that money is being raised from corporatists and cronies on Wall Street. The party’s nomination she seeks, however, is in a moment of not liking all this cronyism.
Hillary’s been worried about holding off Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a more populist progressive. So she’s been saying stuff about “toppling” the wealthiest one percent.
By being so extreme — insofar as being a democratic socialist is extreme — he makes Hillary’s close ties to Wall Street seem a safer bet. And she can continue the class war rhetoric and point out that she has a legit U.S. Senator who is far too her left, letting her attempt the old Clinton triangulation.
3) They’re not even trying to hide it
Check out both of these tweets:
Thanks @HillaryClinton. Looking forward to debating the big issues: income inequality, climate change & getting big money out of politics.
Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) April 30, 2015
The Democratic Party sent out an email last night with the subject line, “Hey: Bernie and Hillary are in. Are you?” Here’s what it said:
4) He won’t even oppose her on the easy stuff
Hillary Clinton has been taking a light beating for how her foundation hid the identity of foreign donors by using a Canadian pass-through and then claiming that Canadian law prohibited public identification of those donors. Clinton Foundation scandal updates are coming regularly also from the New York Times, Washington Post and Boston Globe.
But when Bernie Sanders was given wide berth to challenge Hillary Clinton on the cronyism, corporatism and corruption of this foundation, he declined the opportunity and instead … mumbled something about the Koch brothers.
On MSNBC, Bernie Sanders offers a glimpse of how seriously he’ll challenge Hillary. Says foundation Q’s “legitimate,” but Koch brothers!
Andrew Stiles (@AndrewStilesUSA) April 30, 2015
Technically Media Matters is an independent non-profit. In practice, it’s a media-response arm of the Clinton campaign. So check out what Media Matters’ Eric Boehlert had to say on the same topic:
it seems each time Bernie Sanders gets asked abt Clinton Foundation he mentions GOP Koch $$$…..ha. this could get interesting.
Eric Boehlert (@EricBoehlert) April 30, 2015
Who knows. Maybe Bernie Sanders is in it to win it. But he sure isn’t acting like it and Hillary sure seems excited to have an older socialist challenging her.