Bernie Sanders is raising $1 million a day without trying. He’s easily won a string of primaries, including Oregon most recently. His crowds are large, enthusiastic, determined, sometimes in a chair-throwing kind of way.
Hillary Clinton’s unfavorable numbers are large, growing larger. And the first national poll just came out putting a flip-flopping, suddenly Republican reality-TV celebrity ahead of her, though both tie at 57 percent in high unfavorables.
Other than that, the presumptive nominee’s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination is going really great. Now come the closing days before voting in California, the nation’s most populous state, where Clinton should win going away, as she did in 2008.
The former attorney, former Arkansas first lady, former White House first lady, former senator, former secretary of state and former colossally paid giver of secret speeches to incredibly wealthy investors was supposed to be the easy winner. Just like 2008.
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But now, a 74-year-old stubborn, socialist geezer who wants to hike taxes during an economic recovery is harassing her from the left. A convenient Democrat, a lifelong pol, he’s weakening an already weak candidate.
Sanders is draining her money and time while distracting Clinton from her partisan rival, who is already campaigning and fundraising for the general election. Clinton is trying to attack both men simultaneously, tough for even a polished pol.
So we just witnessed the bizarre spectacle of Clinton, architect of the lethal Benghazi mess, now under FBI criminal investigation over national security and her emails, pronouncing the likely GOP nominee unqualified for office.
Sanders’ prolonged campaign has divided Democrats into bitter camps, and by weakening Clinton, he threatens President Barack Obama’s legacy, whatever controversial mess that turns out to be.
“We are in until the last ballot is cast!” shouted a defiant Sanders, who’s having the wild-haired time of his long political life, ignoring increasingly anxious Democratic warnings that his hopeless effort threatens party unity for Nov. 8.
Sanders, of course, has no chance of winning the nomination at what’s shaping up as a rancorous convention in the City of Brotherly Love. There, officials are loosening liquor laws to ease the pain during the last week of July.
Despite media blather about rigged primaries among the 17 Republican candidates, it’s the charade of unelected establishment super-delegates that has predetermined the Clinton nomination. Sanders is trying to lure defectors from there by closing on Clinton’s popular-vote total.
“The Democratic Party,” Sanders told another raucous rally, “is going to have to make a very profound and important decision. It can do the right thing and open its doors and welcome into the party people who are prepared to fight for real economic and social change. That is the Democratic Party I want to see.”
He added, “The other option for the Democratic Party, which is a sad and tragic option, is to choose to maintain its status quo structure.”
Fairness is always a volatile topic in America, politics included. Donald Trump used unproven allegations of unfair party treatment in his march to victory. Now it’s Sanders’ turn. His Nevada supporters broke up their state convention with shouting, shoving and chair-throwing upon perceiving unfair rules interpretations by Clinton backers.
Then came days of pointless internecine Democrat arguments over whether Sanders had sufficiently apologized and urged calm.
Can you say Chicago 1968? Then, Democrat Eugene McCarthy fought a divisive primary campaign against the party establishment. Angry protests against the Vietnam War and lack of party inclusiveness turned that convention into a week of shifting street melees and tear gas that spilled onto national TV with Democrat denouncing Democrat.
As someone in that embattled bastion of Democratic politics, I can report that the mass arrests and images of police horses pushing demonstrators through showroom windows virtually doomed establishment Vice President Hubert Humphrey’s bid for a third straight Democratic administration. And it elected an unpopular Republican named Richard Nixon.
Oh, look. In 2016, the establishment’s Hillary Clinton, a Chicago native, must defeat an intransigent insurgent within her divided party in order to seek a third straight Democratic administration. She faces an unpopular Republican named Donald Trump.
Andrew Malcolm is an author and veteran national and foreign correspondent covering politics since the 1960s. Twitter, @AHMalcolm.