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Is Bernie Sanders The Modern Day Gene McCarthy?

March 28, 2016

I have long wondered, but never able to fully answer, whether Gene McCarthy truly regretted what happened in 1968.   The anti-war champion and great appealer to the youth of the nation never was able to get over the charm and idealism that Robert Kennedy brought to the race for the Democratic nomination.  Following the horror in June 1968 McCarthy was never able to convey any human compassion in a credible way to the nation.  Once it was clear Hubert Humphrey was the nominee there was seemingly no way for McCarthy to understand his duty to the party.  It would be very late–too late–before McCarthy would allow his tepid support to show.

History shows what happened when a failed candidate and his youthful, but short-sighted followers, failed to support the eventual nominee.  Richard Nixon won the White House, expanded the Vietnam War, undermined the Constitution with all the crimes that fall under the term Watergate, faced articles of impeachment, and resigned.

The election in 1968 was very close.  Most scholars have written how the strong support of McCarthy towards Humphrey along with the energy and votes of his followers would have allowed the Democratic nominee to prevail.   But petty politics not only destroyed the election that year, but did long-term damage to our nation.

I mention all this as news reports show Bernie Sanders plans an aggressive push in New York for the upcoming primary.  Looking to model the contest like that from Michigan he hopes for a win.   I understand the desire of a candidate to pursue a dream   But the Sanders’ team wants to do Clinton damage in her home state.  That may sound good to his fans but it sounds dreadful for those of us who think long-term.

As has been noted before on this blog Hillary Clinton needs to pivot–now–to two tasks in this election.

One is bringing various elements of the party together for the fall campaign.  With Donald Trump as the likely GOP nominee that task will be much  easier than it might have been had a reasonable Republican contender made it to the top.  There is no need to elongate or burden Clinton with a fight from Sanders that has no realistic math to show a delegate win at the convention.  But that is exactly what is happening.

The second thing Clinton should be doing is taking the fight to the GOP nominee.  Needing to fight Sanders wastes money, resources, and time.   The outcome is not in doubt.    Let us look at the delegate count.  After Sanders’ three wins on Saturday, Clinton holds a delegate lead of 1,243 to 975.  But wait!!   That advantage expands to 1,712 to 1,004 once the superdelegates are included.

Clinton should not need to further engage with a primary opponent who is now only fighting for a legacy notation in the history books.

Let us hope that historians will not need to look back and ask if Sanders regretted what he did in 2016 which allowed for a dangerous Republican to win the White House.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Feeling the Bern and Clean for Gene Solly permalink
    March 30, 2016 10:53 AM

    ATTENTION WISCONSIN: MSNBC is reporting that HRC, Bubba and Chelsea are pulling out of Wisconsin, no more appearances, either because it’s a sure thing, or they don’t care (about you.) Maybe they’re taking Deke’s advice and ending it so they don’t harm Bernie’s chances in the fall. 🙂

  2. MJHayden permalink
    March 29, 2016 11:19 PM

    Given that both “Cigarman” Clinton and Obama, supposedly liberal Democrats, governed pretty much like moderate Republicans (Just look at Obama’s latest Supreme Court pick), I have no doubt that moderate or progressive (depends on the venue) H. Clinton would do the same and be just the same neocon in foreign entanglements and neo-liberal on the domestic side as she and her husband have always been. That being the case, I figure that I’m a Democrat who doesn’t vote for Republicans, so given the choice between the DLC candidate Hillary and Trump, I’d rather have the one in who would destroy the Republican Party, not the Democratic Party. Not that I’ll vote for him, lots of other candidates on the ballot, but really, every time the Democrats get one of these “New Democrats” in office with a Democratic Congress, they sc**w the pooch so badly that they lose Congress in two years and then get to blame Republicans for not doing what the rank and file want done. I want Democrats from the Democratic wing of the party running the show. No more wolves in sheep’s clothing.
    After all, Nixon was a Keynesian working with Kennedy on Universal Healthcare when the Watergate mess brought him down, so who knows?

  3. Feeling the Bern and Clean for Gene Solly permalink
    March 29, 2016 11:04 PM

    Ah yes, more revisionist history from Caffeinated Politics. Humphrey (relative?), who entered the race too late to enter any primaries (you know, those pesky exercises where the rabble get a voice), was the choice of the party bosses (today’s anti-democratic, Democratic “super” delegates). McCarthy held out on endorsing HHH because he wanted him to “shift his stance on the Vietnam War, a change of the military draft, and a reform of the Democratic machine politics. Humphrey discussed the demands with McCarthy via telephone, and responded that he was “not prone to start meeting conditions.” [Eugene’s Stand Saddens HHH”, The Daily Collegian (University Park, PA) 69 (16), October 10, 1968, p. 4] Humphrey finally broke with LBJ’s policies and McCarthy endorsed him a week before the election.
    Bernie’s success has pushed Clinton to adopt more progressive policies on issues such as the Keystone XL pipeline, Trans Pacific Partnership, immigration and calling on Mich. Gov. Snyder to resign or be recalled for his malfeasance on the Flint water poisoning.
    But, interestingly enough, the Dekester has a fellow traveler in the Republican Party! “Curly Haugland, a Republican National Committee member, says the nomination process is pretty straightforward: The party, not the voters, chooses the nominee.
    In an appearance on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Wednesday morning, Haugland, a North Dakotan and current member of the RNC’s Rules Committee, said that any assumption otherwise is misguided.
    “That’s the problem: The media has created the perception that the voters will decide the nomination,” he said. He went on: “Political parties choose their nominee, not the general public, contrary to popular belief.”
    So yes, even though Bernie has won blowout victories in 6 of the last 7 contests, it’s clearly time for him to withdraw…….seems like somebody’s drinking a little too much sleepy time tea before blogging.
    Not to mention Clinton stayed in the race until the end of the primaries in 2008. But, I guess it will really generate enthusiasm for Hillary if the people of Oregon, California, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Connecticut and several other states have no primary race to vote in. That will free her to have more closed-door fundraisers on Wall Street, Hollywood (put me down for two $374,000 tables at George Clooney’s soiree) and at the Madison Club instead of mingling with the great unwashed and huddled masses.
    And then we can disparage the young people, labor and true progressives for not being enthusiastic. A winning strategy of negative reinforcement.

  4. March 28, 2016 9:01 PM

    I think one of the best names in the political view of Bernie backers would be Sen. Sherrod Brown from Ohio. Now that makes a mess for his replacement if the ticket were to win. As to your question about Bernie—I just do not see him being asked or his accepting if asked.

  5. March 28, 2016 5:27 PM

    I dunno, Gregory. My wife (who probably likes Bernie a little more than Hillary) thinks the Dems could have the White House if Hillary would offer the VP slot to Bernie. Your thoughts?

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