Election 2016

Is Bernie Sanders Really Going "Scorched Earth" on Hillary Clinton or Is She Just a Terrible Candidate?

Democratic elites blame Sanders' protracted campaign for damaging Clinton, but she's her own worst enemy.

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P.U.M.A.
Flickr/DonkeyHotey

The conventional wisdom among staunch Democrats and much of the elite liberal commentariat is that the once-lovable insurgent campaign run by Vermont's most famous democratic socialist, Sen. Bernie Sanders, is well past its sell-by date, and that it's time for him to embrace "party unity" and convince his supporters to vote for Hillary Clinton. 

The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson says he "shares much of Sanders' political philosophy" but that by keeping his word to his supporters that he will stay in the race until the nomination is clinched by someone (which means until the Democratic National Convention in July, because superdelegates don't cast their votes until then), Sanders is playing a "dangerous game."

Like Robinson, Slate's Jamelle Bouie describes Sanders' bucking of the establishment as a "scorched earth" endeavor. Also in the Post, Dana Milbank compares Sanders to that all-time Democratic boogeyman who had the audacity to challenge the two-party system: Ralph Nader.

The anxiety of mainstream Democrats will surely be exacerbated by Sanders' full-court press in California, where he continues to draw huge crowds, and where a primary victory for Sanders still wouldn't put him in reach of the nomination but would provide all the argument he needs to continue his efforts to radically transform the Democratic Party.

A recent article in the New York Times suggests that Sanders' "newly resolute attitude" is "the cumulative result of months of anger at the national Democratic Party over a debate schedule that his campaign said favored Mrs. Clinton; a fund-raising arrangement between the party and the Clinton campaign; the appointment of fierce Clinton partisans as leaders of important convention committees," among other things.

Sanders' deliberately outside-the-party-mainstream campaign intends to wring every last drop of legitimacy it can squeeze out of the primary process. Which is why in Kentucky the secretary of state agreed to his campaign's request for a recanvass of all the voting machines and absentee ballots in the state. In the best case scenario for Sanders, all this effort will net him is a single additional pledged delegate. 

It's no secret that Sanders, his staff, and many of his supporters feel no sense of loyalty to a party he is only nominally (maybe?) a part of. Unsurprisingly, this makes party loyalists both angry and uncomfortable, because they need Sanders' legion of voters to stay within the party's tent and turn out on Election Day in November.

But what really makes Democrats nervous is that Sanders has revealed something they don't want to admit: Hillary Clinton is bad at political campaigning. 

This is the fourth political campaign Clinton has run, but only the second time she's faced a challenger backed by a significant constituency. In 2000, she ran for Senate against Rep. Rick Lazio, who had to scramble his bid together rather late in the process after then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani aborted his prospective run due to prostate cancer. Former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer was the sacrificial lamb thrown to the wolves by the state Republican Party in 2006, when he lost to Clinton by 36 percentage points. And we all know how Clinton's "inevitable" run for the presidential nomination went in 2008.

But at least in 2008 defeated Clinton supporters could comfort themselves in the knowledge that they lost to Barack Obama — a young, handsome, gifted orator with the chance to make history as the first African-American president. This time around, the fact that their candidate has had to vigorously compete with a gruff and unkempt protest politician — one with no record of success getting legislation passed, a history of praising communist dictators, and a disquieting lack of interest in foreign policy — is truly infuriating to Team Clinton. 

Recent polling puts Clinton's unfavorables at near-Trump levels, and she was also perceived as not "honest and trustworthy" by 64 percent of those polled by CBS News and the Times. It's really a stretch to pin those kind of numbers on Sanders, who has only been on the national scene for about a year. Clinton, on the other hand, has been a national figure for 25 years, and during that time she has made her own legacy, which most people clearly do not view with the same rose-colored glasses donned by her supporters.

Moreover, for all the recent rancor between the two Democratic candidates' campaigns, Sanders hasn't been especially hard on Clinton directly. He could have gone after her "damn emails," but early on stated he wouldn't and has kept that promise. A "scorched earth" candidate would surely make an issue out his opponent's ongoing FBI investigation, and you can be sure Donald Trump will not be so deferential.

All the hand-wringing over a protracted primary fight that will supposedly damage the party's prospects in the general election appears to be much ado about nothing. 

The Times' polling shows 72 percent of Sanders' supporters say they'll vote for Clinton if she's the nominee, and that number that will almost certainly continue to rise once the bloodletting of the general election begins. The Times also reports, "fewer than half of Democratic voters say their party is divided, and eight in 10 are hopeful about its future. More than eight in 10 think Mrs. Clinton can unite the party after the primaries end next month."

The political horserace often turns otherwise rational thinkers into superfans, and the civil wars of party primaries are almost always the bloodiest battles. But for all the bluster of the #ImWithHer and #BernieorBust crowds, it's not a prolonged nomination process that's likely to hurt the party in November, it's the fact that Hillary Clinton's biggest liability on the campaign trail is always Hillary Clinton.

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  1. So having delegates pick a candidate as late as July (gasp!) is “scorched earth?” I think not.

  2. It wouldn’t be the first time a commie went scorched earth.

    1. Or the last. Venezuela can get worse, so can Best Korea.

    2. #FeelTheScorch

      1. Tagline for ‘Scorcher 16’?

  3. Is Bernie Sanders Really Going “Scorched Earth” on Hillary Clinton or Is She Just a Terrible Candidate?

    Yes. Any other questions.

    1. If he knew what an email was, he could have crushed her.

      1. All Berntard knows about email is that he’s “sick of hearing about her damned emails.”

        1. Make sure you say it like an old man in boxers yelling at the paper boy.

          1. Was that you delivering my paper?

          2. Get offa my lawn!

      2. Funny joke is funny…

  4. What party unity? Bernie’s not a Democrat, what does he care if he tears shit up?

    1. Jerryskids- Seriously, he started identifying as a democrat a couple months ago and could well stop within a couple months from now. From his perspective, there is absolutely no downside to Berning it all to the ground. Anyone expecting him to tow the lion is delusional.

      1. Even taking out the calculation of self-interest, it only makes sense for him to keep going. Bernie is a socialist. He wants to push the politics of this country in the direction of socialism. But, the very reason Clinton wants Sanders to shut the hell up and go the hell away is so that she can tack right for the general election, the exact opposite of moving the country’s politics in the direction of socialism.

        1. Bernie is willing to go the extra mile for Socialism, it’s really too bad Cruz wasn’t willing to go the extra mile for Constitutionalism. At the same time, I think Cruz probably wants to continue his career whereas I’m pretty sure Bernie stopped caring about any kind of job as soon as he was elected. Still, it would have been nice if someone tried to pull Trump in a direction, even if you can’t make him drink.

        2. Among lefty demos:

          -The Aggrieved (brown people, black people, gay people, confused people) are Obama’s constituency
          -Socialists I think are now officially Bernie’s constituency
          -Organized labor in private sector is a Trump constituency
          -The public sector goes Bernie again
          -Academia goes Bernie again

          Hillary gets the Aggrieved because Obama’s not running and they do what they’re told. Hillary also gets establishment endorsement from all the orgs representing the other demos. She is a couple missteps with the Aggrieved from having no constituency with any votes.

          Only group truly up for grabs are the climate truthers I think.

    2. I think this is a mute point. Sanders isn’t a democrat and Trup isn’t a Republican. Except you let them run in your primaries and they got a lot of support. It’s a little late to cry wolf.

  5. But waht if Bernie self-identifies as the nominee? Wouldn’t the Democrats have to accomodate him?

    1. Transdemocrat?

      1. Which bathroom would he use, then?

        1. Private bathroom paid for with donations.

        2. Any bathroom without toilet paper.

        3. Oh, he’d shit on us all. He’s an equal opportunity befouler.

  6. New buddy cop TV show “Cankles and the Bern”

    1. Or a superhero crime fighting duo show “Poontank and Abacus Rekt”

  7. Sanders is playing a “dangerous game.”

    Jai Alai?

  8. It doesn’t matter, Trump will be the next president.

    1. I can’t shake the image of HRC at Trump’s wedding. And all the cash he sent her and her kind.

      I’m just saying, you won’t see my shocked face if Trump does something that lets HRC cake walk into the whitehouse.

  9. You can win if you have a shaky history of accomplishment, scandals, a terrible personality, and a lot of enemies. You’re not going to win if you have all of those things and nothing positive to point at.

    1. Normally, no. But since that describes both major-party candidates this year, it seems likely that our next President will win with exactly those handicaps.

      1. It’s only a handicap if you’re playing against someone better than you. Otherwise it’s just the same game with lower standards.

  10. Bernie hasn’t even got the balls to point out that she’s a felon, for pete’s sake!

    1. Is she? I’m pretty sure she hasn’t been convicted anywhere yet.

      1. OK, she’s a pre-convicted felon, since she has certainly committed felonies.

        1. Exactly. She’s a felon because she committed felonies.

      2. Exactly. All those cops are innocent. 100%

  11. I think the Clintonistas harbored a serious expectation from the very beginning that Hillary was not going to have to deal with any real competition in the primaries. The intrusion of reality has them feeling very butthurt.

    But to go to the premise of the article: yes, I think Clinton is a terrible campaigner. And I don’t think it’s fixable no matter who she hires.

    1. Remember last year when O’Malley was supposed to be the big challanger, Jim Webb was a throw back to the Blue Dog days and Sanders an afterthought? No wonder they thought she would cruise to the nomination, particularly after O’Malley dropped out early.

    2. They felt the same way 8 years ago but were afraid to tell a black guy to go back to his shack and wait. They have no problems telling old white men to meekly shuffle away.

  12. I think it could be both. As I said in the other thread, I initially expected Sanders to eventually bow out gracefully after he dismissed the email issue in a debate, but he seems to have gotten more and more negative as the campaign has gone on and his chances of winning have decreased. He’s talking about “contesting the convention” even though he’s down almost 300 pledged delegates (so not even factoring in the superdelegates) and has virtually no chance of winning a majority of pledged delegates at this point. He is trying to set up a debate with the GOP nominee, which is unprecedented as far as I’m aware. Bernie still may fall in line after Clinton officially wins, but right now he seems either spiteful or at least delusional.

    At the same time, this doesn’t preclude Clinton from being a terrible candidate in her own right.

    1. Do we really know which super-delegates are 100% behind Hilary or is it possible some of them are not as supportive as Hilary as we are led to believe? Until the official votes are cast, its rather presumptive of Hilary to assume the promises of super-delegates will be kept – most of them are professional liars after all.

      1. Again, Hillary is up nearly 300 just in the pledged delegate count alone. Sanders has to win about 70% of the remaining vote to overtake her, which is highly unlikely, especially considering that most of the delegates left are in favorable places for Clinton, like California, New Jersey, and Puerto Rico. And if Clinton has a majority of pledged delegates, I don’t see any way the superdelegates abandon her unless something happened that would cause her to drop out of the race altogether, at which point it would be a moot point.

        1. unless something happened that would cause her to drop out of the race altogether

          On the other hand, the professional-liar super-delegates probably have their own elections to win in a couple years. It’s entirely possible that some will just say “She hasn’t got a chance in hell against Trump and I can read the tea leaves – she won’t even need my vote to get the nomination so I’ll protect my own ass and vote for Sanders so that future voters don’t hold it against me.”

          What would the party do if she were brought to trial a week after the convention nominates her? She’d be poison at that point. Would they have another convention? Call for primary do-overs? Or do everything they could to salvage whatever 2016 races remain?

          1. They would informally nominate someone else, and the state parties would put that name on the “electors for” slate.

    2. It’s both.

      Sanders was probably clever to hold the e-mail ammunition in reserve early on in his campaign.

      He seems like a dumbass in every other respect, but he has won higher office than any libertarian, even though he was running as a socialist independent rather than as a Democrat.

    3. This thought process is why states are doing conventions so early. They want to be part of the process, and by waiting till the end they wind up in a situation where their voice isn’t even being heard.

      1. Yeah, get your voice heard early before more truth about your candidates comes out.

    4. This thought process is why states are doing conventions so early. They want to be part of the process, and by waiting till the end they wind up in a situation where their voice isn’t even being heard.

  13. Which is why in Kentucky the secretary of state agreed to his campaign’s request for a recanvass of all the voting machines and absentee ballots in the state. In the best case scenario for Sanders, all this effort will net him is a single additional pledged delegate.

    Well, after all, it’s just government money being spent, right? And there’s an infinite amount of that. Apparently.

  14. It’s fun watching Clinton squirm, but it’s rather frightening that there is such fervent support for a national socialist.

    1. True. Even more baffling that some of his more retarded foreign policy views are being echoed verbatim by the opposition nominee.

      1. Foreign policy in a campaign is nothing but a scare tactic. What a candidate says in campaigns has zero correlation with what the winning candidate ever actually does.

  15. Is Bernie Sanders Really Going “Scorched Earth” on Hillary Clinton or Is She Just a Terrible Candidate?

    Bernie has been a complete pansy relative to Hillary. Just compare to Trump. And Trump is just getting started.

  16. The democrat elite support Hillary Clinton the war monger.

    As Secretary of State, Clinton backed a bold escalation of the Afghanistan war. She pressed Obama to arm the Syrian rebels, and later endorsed air strikes against the Assad regime. She backed intervention in Libya, and her State Department helped enable Obama’s expansion of lethal drone strikes. In fact, Clinton may have been the administration’s most reliable advocate for military action. On at least three crucial issues?Afghanistan, Libya, and the bin Laden raid?Clinton took a more aggressive line than Gates, a Bush-appointed Republican.

    Former administration officials also tell TIME that Clinton was an advocate for maintaining a residual troop force after the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq?an issue of renewed interest given al Qaeda’s resurgence there. They also describe her as skeptical of diplomacy with Iran, and firmly opposed to talk of a “containment” policy that would be an alternative to military action should negotiations with Tehran fail.

    http://swampland.time.com/2014…..2016-test/

    Make No Mistake: Hillary Clinton is a Drug Warrior

    http://marijuanapolitics.com/m…..g-warrior/

  17. She was rebuked by the inspector general for using private email on her own devices, which was NOT allowed, regardless of past precedents. At least one outsider hacked her system and her aides are being granted immunity.

    If Clinton is formally indicted, I can’t see super delegates remaining loyal to a divisive candidate who’s having trouble putting away Donald Trump. Even if she wins, she’ll enter the white house with ZERO good will and crossover support that Obama enjoyed in 08. The Republicans made historic gains not 3 years after Obama became president.

    Bernie knows this. Seriously, many younger candidate with less money would have stayed this long, waiting for the email situation to play itself out.

    This was THE year for the GOP to nominate a “generic” republican. But here’s Donald Trump!

    1. What Bernie should know is that they’re not going to indict Hillary until it’s clear Bernie doesn’t have enough delegates to do anything about it when the convention nominates Biden for prez.

      1. Bernie will never have enough delegates to do anything about it and I think Biden will ride in on a white horse before the convention.

  18. Why do democrats have such a hard time owning their failures? They will never admit that any of their candidates or policies simply sucked, its always someone else’s fault.

  19. If Bernie is shitting all over Hillary’s coronation, then I say that’s the best “Scorched Earth” policy the Democratic party has come up with.
    =D
    The Dem’s, and Repubs are a pestilence upon our society.
    Fuck’em both.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbiN9mdZRk0

    1. Shit Pyrate|5.27.16 @ 12:01AM|#
      “If Bernie is shitting all over Hillary’s coronation, then I say that’s the best “Scorched Earth” policy the Democratic party has come up with.”

      Bernie has yet to call that hag on her felonies, nor on her lack of accomplishments other than lacking a penis.

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  21. Sanders is no more “outside the mainstream” of the Democrat Party than Trump is outside that of his party. They are both something outside the elite of both parties, but that is another thing entirely.

    Clinton’s problem is that she cannot openly confront or criticize any substantial position of Sanders because she risks losing too much of the party base in the process. A better campaigner, or a competent leader might be able to do so, but she is neither.

    Sanders is not remaking the party so much as he is bringing it out of the closet.

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  28. It woud not be dangerous for Bernie to stay in the race until the convention. Seeing as Clinton really belongs in prison rather than the white house, it would be dangerous for Sanders to drop out before the convention. Who knows when the FBI will speak?

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