24/03/2020 strategic-culture.org  5 min #170940

Why Sanders Failed - Again

Martin Sieff

In 2016, Senator Bernie Sanders ran an exemplary campaign. But at the end he stalled and stayed silent. He folded in the crunch and allowed a corrupt, despicable and unstable liar and demagogue - the ineffable Hillary Clinton - to win the Democratic presidential nomination.

Now, history has repeated itself.

Four years ago, the evidence was clear that the Democratic National Committee and other Hillary Clinton minions were shamelessly stealing the crucial primary results from Bernie Sanders. At least three quarters of a million people who voted or wanted to vote for him were excluded from the New York State primary alone.

The shameful U.S. Mainstream Medium (MSM) never looked into these realities for a second. On the contrary, they rigorously suppressed the slightest mention of them.

Sanders' campaign activists understood this. It was well known within the campaign up and down the East Coast. But Sanders stayed silent. He was so horrified enough by the bogeyman of Donald Trump winning the presidency that he was ready to compromise every instinct of courage, judgment and fair play to back down in the end to Hillary Clinton instead.

It is perfectly true the entire Democratic Party establishment was determined to block Bernie Sanders this time too. But he grossly misjudged the breadth and potency of his base and made no serious strategy to expand it.

2016 was - should have been - Sanders' year. But after a lifetime on the fringe of U.S. politics he forgot the basic rule of success for politicians everywhere: Recognize your time.

For there is indeed a tide in the affairs of men (and women), as Shakespeare says through his character Brutus in "Julius Caesar," which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. But Sanders didn't take that tide.

And four years later, when he tried again - It wasn't the same.

Sanders had forgotten the warning if the great Greek philosopher Heracletus, "A man cannot cross the same river twice, for it isn't the same river: And he isn't the same man."

The young U.S. voters of 2020 didn't flood in the same numbers to Sanders as they had in 2016. They had defied the Mainstream Media and the Democratic Party establishment in huge numbers then, why not now?

As former Vice President Joe Biden - who was supposed to be a stumbling shtub but wasn't in their showdown one-on-one debate, "The momentum isn't with you - It's with me."

And this was true.

Only five days earlier, Biden had won - decisively - 10 out of 14 primaries among Democratic voters. Two days after the debate he won another three important primary elections - in Arizona, Illinois and Florida. They were the death blows to Sanders' campaign and his credibility as a national candidate.

Where were all the Sanders voters of 2016?

Many of them simply refused to vote for him a second time.

He had folded in the clinch. He had failed to stand up for his cause in 2016. Once bitten twice shy. Too many of his young American supporters had learned that Bernie really was a phony when it came to the crunch.

There was and is a lot to admire in Bernie Sanders: I, like so many, did not foresee his dramatic intellectual and leadership collapse in the face of old Joe Biden over the past few weeks.

But I have covered Biden at the national level for 12 years and I had learned enough never to count out tough, personally decent old Smokin' Joe.

I did not share the sneering underestimation of him shared across the entire Republican Right, the Progressive Center and Soft Left, and the Mainstream Media.

I had personally watched Biden eviscerate two supposedly brilliant rising Republican superstars - Alaska Governor Sarah Biden and future House Speaker Paul Ryan - in the vice-presidential debates of 2008 and 2012. In both cases he won so thoroughly and dramatically that he shredded their credibility as national candidates forever.

Biden certainly lied or fudged outright several times in his debate with Sanders on Sunday night. But Sanders did as well. That is what politicians too. However, Sanders never grasped the most fundamental rule of televised national political debates in America: It is never about what you say: It is always about how you look - especially when you are not saying anything.

I watched that debate from beginning to end. Biden only made one of his notorious slips of the tongue once in two hours then quickly corrected himself. It wasn't significant. Throughout, he appeared commanding, relaxed, in control, confident.

Whenever the unforgiving, ever-alert cameras focused in on him during Sanders' answers, Biden looked amused, dismissive, but always on top of everything.

Sanders, by contrast ranted and raved in his answers. He repeatedly lost the focus in his response. The old Jewish ideologue from Brooklyn lacked the practical cool head for political debate and grand strategy that the supposedly senile, vastly more experienced, cunning old Irishman from hard-scrabble Scranton, Pennsylvania never lost.

The Narrative or theme for the Biden-Sanders debate was clear: Could Sanders demolish Biden and expose him as a senile, tongue-tied old fool? When Biden is relaxed and free associating in public, he often gives that impression. He was already that way 30 years ago.

But when Biden is allowed to engage in one-on-one debate, he is focused, relentless and deadly. And that was the Biden who showed up on debate night. Sanders never laid a glove on him, although he tried hard.

Sanders is a superb debater too. But he relies too much on a loud, commanding voice. That cones across as bullying. It backfires disastrously when he is up against a strong debater who has the chance to refute his many personal attacks.

Despite growing concerns in the U.S. media about Biden's alleged memory lapses and supposed confusion, he was confident and fluent throughout except for one minor stumble, which he immediately caught and corrected. When it came to relations with Russia, Sanders showed no courage and vision at all: He was as reflexively hostile, ignorant and superficial as Biden.

Biden focused on an immediate much larger response to the coronavirus threat which both men agreed was an unprecedented national crisis."People are looking for results, not a revolution," he said.

However, Sanders returned to his favorite theme of demanding a full-scale reorganization of the U.S. health care system during the emergency while Biden insisted that the virus crisis had to be focused on instead.

Sanders' call really wasn't what the American public wanted to hear. They wanted a Democratic candidate focused on the here and now. Sanders' vision, far from attracting the American public, alienated them. He had only himself to blame for that.

The choice for the American people in November is now clear: Joe Biden will be the Democratic presidential candidate. The only hope for any change at all and any remote hope of reining in and controlling the permanent war state will remain with President Donald Trump.