Super Tuesday was Bernie Sanders’ moment to emerge as the Donald Trump of the Democratic Party, but he couldn’t rise to it. He needed to do what Trump did in 2016: dominate so thoroughly that the establishment would have no choice but to follow him. That didn’t happen on Tuesday. Joe Biden scooped up critical victories in the South, Midwest, and East. Buyer’s hesitation about radical Bernie set in, and late deciders broke toward Biden.
Trump overpowered the Republican establishment in 2016 and moved easily to the nomination. No such path exists for Bernie at this point. The establishment will throw all of its weight behind Biden. It had, since his victory in South Carolina, been propping him up, heralding him for three days as a figure of unfathomable moral depth and so forth. It was all pretty ridiculous, but it paid off on Super Tuesday. It made Biden look like a reassuring alternative to “crazy” Bernie.
The Republican establishment was too weak to prevent Trump from reshaping the GOP in his image. Figures of the Democratic establishment feared Bernie might do the same to theirs. But Bernie is no Trump. For one thing, he lacks Trump’s natural leadership skills and force of personality. For another, his ideas are utterly nuts. Trump called for a return to common sense; Bernie preaches a revolution alien to the history and traditions of the country.
The race isn’t over, but it is clear Bernie is in serious trouble. That Biden, without Bernie’s money or ground troops, could win on a few days of free publicity doesn’t bode well for Sanders, especially now that it appears unlikely that he’ll be able to add Texas to his win in California. Should the race end in a close delegate count and go to a contested convention, the establishment will be arrayed against him.
Once Warren and Bloomberg are out of the race, Biden’s path will widen. It appears that Warren won’t even win her home state, and all Bloomberg’s millions could buy was American Samoa.
Biden’s comeback is remarkable, given that a week or so ago most pundits had given him up for dead. Now these same pundits speak of him in giddy tones. They gush that he has what Trump lacks: empathy, decency, etc. Never mind that these same pundits just days ago had been laughing about Biden’s various foibles and lies, such as his whopper about having been arrested on his way to visiting Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
One wonders what might have happened had Bernie tried to moderate a bit. Instead, he doubled down on his starry-eyed support for Fidel Castro and company. The attacks on him from his fellow Dems about that support were hypocritical — John Kerry, for example, had praised the Sandinista thug Daniel Ortega without controversy within the party — but they did damage anyway.
Sanders threatened to expose the Democratic establishment’s con jobs — its claimed moderation while advancing a Bolshie agenda. The establishment prefers leaders who keep those con jobs going. Cloaked in the mythology of moderation, Biden is now their man. In truth, he is a far-left Democrat. Let’s hope the Trump campaign recalls Biden’s own words on this subject: “I have the most progressive record of anybody running.”
Indeed, he does. In some ways, he is just Bernie Sanders with a hair transplant. He prides himself on having pioneered left-wing causes such as gay marriage, now takes an absolutist stance on abortion at all stages, and wants to adopt the job-destroying “Green New Deal.”
On Tuesday night, beaming over his victories, he spoke in relentlessly moralistic terms, casting the race against Trump as a “battle for the soul of this country.” The Trump campaign shouldn’t let him get away with such posturing. He is a braggart and a wheeler-dealer pol who heads up a family of unscrupulous lobbyists. He talks about himself as “blue-collar Joe,” but he shed that skin long ago. Like his son and brothers, he has shamelessly cashed in on his political connections. Where exactly does his moral authority come from? Not his religion, which he compromised away a long time ago. The sooner the Trump campaign exposes the emptiness of his claims, the better.