June 06, 2016

Is Bernie Sanders an egotist?

There have been three main claims leveled against Sanders by Clintonistas and other Democratic establishmentarians.

One is that he doesn't have enough specificivity on issues. That one's been pretty well knocked down.

Second is that he's not a real Democrat. I've crushed that one.

Third is that he's got an ego.

Well, let's examine that more.

First of all, about all politicians have big egos.

That said, some have bigger than others, like Jon Edwards and covering up being a baby daddy. Or Ralph Nader, who in 2000 had a bigger ego than either Bush or Gore. This includes Mr. "Clean" and Mr. "Green" [actually, not totally on the former, not a lot on the latter] holding oil stocks during the 2000 election under either the theory that Dems wouldn't find out, or that Nader's Raiders types wouldn't care.) (His ego was enough of an issue, and these specific issues enough of an addition, that I didn't vote for president in 2000, and it's a choice I stand by today.

Well, a Rolling Stone interview with Sanders raises this issue.

So, let’s look at a few specifics from that interview.
So how do you do it? (How do you get your program passed?) What are the specifics that allow you to—
What are the specifics about how I, personally, all by myself, do what nobody in American history has done? 
Well, yes, that DOES sound a bit egotistical.

Abraham Lincoln kept the border states in the Union, wrote the Emancipation Proclamation, got Congress to send the 13th Amendment to the states, and won the Civil War before being assassinated.

LBJ got Medicaid, Medicare and the largest civil rights acts since Reconstruction. So, you may doing something that, in some narrow level, is different than anybody else in America has ever done. But, especially given that the Republican party started as a third party, no, you’re not doing more than Lincoln did. Or the likes of LBJ, for that matter.

That said, I want to go to other stuff.

Closed primaries aren’t “dumb,” Bernie.

If we had parliamentary government, like I advocate, you’d be nominated by the equivalent of a party caucus. Until primaries were invented in the 20th century, that’s how presidents were nominated here. And, smoke-filled rooms aside, they weren’t all corrupt, and they weren’t all bad in general.

Third, per another comment he makes, about superdelegates, it confirms my belief that Jane Sanders has been his eminence grise.

In other places, like later in the interview, Bernie can shift from precise to vague on a dime. Does he have a majority of under-35 black voters?

I did brief Googling. In South Carolina, Clinton won evenunder-30 blacks by 56-43

I would venture that in all states, making allowances for his weaker showing among Southern blacks, but bumping that age to 35 instead of 30, it’s probably a 50-50 split.

Finally, his talk about being a social-democratic candidate who had to build his campaign machinery from scratch?

Tosh. You’re a Great Society, or New Deal 2, Democrat. There’s Democratic consultants out there who would respect your message, yet brought oodles of experience. In reality, this is about crafting a mix of insurgent/outsider imagery, and you (and wife Jane) wanting pretty tight control of the campaign, I think.

I've theorized vaguely for myself, and even more vaguely on this blog, that Bernie decided to run to create a "legacy." (Whether this means that he planned to run for the Senate again in 2018 or not, I don't know. I still don't have clue about that.) I also venture that this was in part Jane's idea; at a minimum, without her being 100 percent in favor, he wouldn't do this.

And, I still think he's gotten a pass on a few occasions. Like Janes's management of Burlington College. And, I do think she took on that massive debt load in part based on the idea that her husband's name would serve as a rainmaker. Not totally; a lot of things in life are multicausal. But, partially, yes.

That said, I've seen stupider decisions at other colleges.

Or now, something new.

It's great that Sanders is (mildly?) raising questions about the Clinton Foundation.

But Ken Silverstein wrote about it 4 months ago. So why didn't Bernie talk then?

Anyway, let's take this back to legacies.

I think this is why Bernie took so long to jump in, specifically his apparent wait on Warren. If she had come in later, it would have made him possibly look not progressive enough. That and the fact she probably would have outdrawn him on votes would have hurt that legacy.

Survey says, in conclusion: Yes, he's an egotist in ways. Probably no more than an average US presidential candidate, but contra any turd-polishing, probably no less, either.

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