Bernie Is No Barack (Or Why Hillary Doesn’t Fear The Bern) - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Bernie Is No Barack (Or Why Hillary Doesn’t Fear The Bern)

Later this week, the Democrats will have their second presidential debate. There are many reasons why sensible people would refrain from watching such a spectacle — it takes place on a Friday night, it airs on MSNBC, and Rachel Maddow will be the moderator.

The only compelling reason to watch, then, is to see if Bernie Sanders makes Hillary Clinton “feel The Bern.” In the previous Democrat debate last month, Bernie seemed angry with everyone except Hillary. Sanders inexplicably gave her campaign new life when he said, “Enough with your damn e-mails!” Well, those damn e-mails are about Hillary’s honesty and integrity. I would like to think that Bernie believes that he views himself as someone who has more honesty and integrity than this frontrunner. Otherwise why the hell run for President at all? But by taking the e-mail issue off the table, he gives Democratic primary voters a reason to vote for Hillary. No wonder Hillary said, “Thank you, Bernie, thank you!!!”

Given Hillary’s upswing in the polls over the past several weeks, there is now belated recognition in the Sanders campaign that he must go after her more aggressively. In a piece for the New Republic titled “Does Bernie Sanders Need to Go Negative?” Suzy Khimm writes about a conversation she had with Arizona Democrat Congressman and Bernie supporter Raul Grijalva who indicated Sanders needed to go in this direction:

“If you’re hit, you hit back,” the Arizona Democrat said. “He can’t sit there and be a pin cushion.” I mentioned that the campaign has recently conducted polling to look at Clinton’s weaknesses, including her ties to big corporations and Wall Street, according to the New York Times. Would Clinton’s personal wealth be a fair target for Sanders? “I think that’s fair game,” he said, pointing out that Clinton’s campaign invariably has its own opposition-research file on Sanders. “I’m sure it’s locked and loaded and ready to use.”

When you consider that Sanders uses the phrase “millionaires and billionaires” in every other sentence he utters, it is truly astonishing that he hasn’t been more aggressive with Hillary given she has an estimated net worth between $11 and 53 million. Whatever Hillary’s exact net worth, she is one of the millionaires and billionaires Bernie has been ranting against his entire political career. Yet if one reads Khimm’s article further it doesn’t appear that Bernie’s core supporters are in it to win it:

But like the candidate himself, some of his biggest fans also have a strong aversion to thinking about the race in terms of the need to take down Clinton, stressing that the bigger principles that Sanders stands for are ultimately more important. “I’m not out to cut out Hillary’s support, I’m here to build up support for Bernie’s point of view, whether or not he wins the election,” said Laurie Dodd, who volunteers for the group Northern Virginia for Bernie Sanders.

This sentiment exposes the biggest difference between Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama. While Sanders and his supporters aren’t out to “cut out Hillary’s support,” Barack Obama and his supporters did cut out Hillary’s throat. Bernie’s boosters would be wise to read Ryan Lizza’s recent article in the New Yorker, “How to Beat Hillary Clinton.” In the piece, Lizza discusses how Team Obama overcame the Clinton juggernaut and devised a “kill-Hillary strategy.” Lizza writes, “And while it’s true that Obama had a superior organization and an optimistic message, the real beginning of the end for Hillary Clinton was when Obama attacked her greatest vulnerability: her character.”

Barack Obama had no problem attacking Hillary’s character because he wanted to be President more than life itself. This after all is a man who won electoral office in Illinois by getting his four Democratic primary opponents disqualified from the ballot. Still, it is remarkable that Obama wanted the presidency even more than Hillary when you consider not only Hillary’s own raw ambition but her sense of entitlement. 

If Bernie Sanders truly wants to be president and his supporters truly want him and no one else in the White House, they have to make Hillary’s character an issue as Obama did during the 2008 campaign. Bernie must do this during the Democratic debate in South Carolina on Friday night. Yet I’m not holding my breath. When it comes to electoral politics, Bernie Sanders simply lacks Barack Obama’s killer instincts. So long as Bernie lacks this instinct and his supporters are content to “build up support for Bernie’s point of view, whether or not he wins the election,” then Hillary doesn’t have a thing to worry about.

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