Democrats Will Learn All the Wrong Lessons From Brush With Bernie
Matt Taibbi writes in Rolling Stone:
Years ago, over many beers in a D.C. bar, a congressional aide colorfully described the House of Representatives, where he worked.
It’s “435 heads up 435 asses,” he said.
I thought of that person yesterday, while reading the analyses of Hillary Clinton’s victories Tuesday night. The arrival of the first female presidential nominee was undoubtedly a huge moment in American history and something even the supporters of Bernie Sanders should recognize as significant and to be celebrated. But the Washington media’s assessment of how we got there was convoluted and self-deceiving.
This was no ordinary primary race, not a contest between warring factions within the party establishment, á la Obama-Clinton in ’08 or even Gore-Bradley in ’00. This was a barely quelled revolt that ought to have sent shock waves up and down the party, especially since the Vote of No Confidence overwhelmingly came from the next generation of voters. Yet editorialists mostly drew the opposite conclusion.
The classic example was James Hohmann’s piece in the Washington Post,titled, “Primary wins show Hillary Clinton needs the left less than pro-Sanders liberals think.”
Hohmann’s thesis was that the “scope and scale” of Clinton’s wins Tuesday night meant mainstream Democrats could now safely return to their traditional We won, screw you posture of “minor concessions” toward the “liberal base.”
Hohmann focused on the fact that with Bernie out of the way, Hillary now had a path to victory that would involve focusing on Trump’s negatives. Such a strategy won’t require much if any acquiescence toward the huge masses of Democratic voters who just tried to derail her candidacy. And not only is the primary scare over, but Clinton and the centrist Democrats in general are in better shape than ever.
“Big picture,” Hohmann wrote, “Clinton is running a much better and more organized campaign than she did in 2008.”
Then there was Jonathan Capehart, also of the Post, whose “This is how Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are the same person” piece describes Sanders as a “stubborn outsider” who “shares the same DNA” as Donald Trump. Capeheart snootily seethes that both men will ultimately pay a karmic price for not knowing their places.
“In the battle of the outsider egos storming the political establishment, Trump succeeded where Sanders failed,” he wrote. “But the chaos unleashed by Trump’s victory could spell doom for the GOP all over the ballot in November. Pardon me while I dab that single tear trickling down my cheek.”
If they had any brains, Beltway Dems and their clucky sycophants like Capeheart would not be celebrating this week. They ought to be horrified to their marrow that the all-powerful Democratic Party ended up having to dig in for a furious rally to stave off a quirky Vermont socialist almost completely lacking big-dollar donors or institutional support.
They should be freaked out, cowed and relieved, like the Golden State Warriors would be if they needed a big fourth quarter to pull out a win against Valdosta State.
But to read the papers in the last two days is to imagine that we didn’t just spend a year witnessing the growth of a massive grassroots movement fueled by loathing of the party establishment, with some correspondingly severe numerical contractions in the turnout department (though she won, for instance, Clinton received 30 percent fewer votes in California this year versus 2008, and 13 percent fewer in New Jersey).
The twin insurgencies of Trump and Sanders this year were equally a blistering referendum on Beltway politics. But the major-party leaders and the media mouthpieces they hang out with can’t see this, because of what that friend of mine talked about over a decade ago: Washington culture is too far up its own backside to see much of anything at all. . .