The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

History will best remember Bernie Sanders for his role in helping elect Donald Trump. Happily for many (if not most) Democrats, Sanders is now fading big time.

The earlier assumption was that the 2020 Democratic race would boil down to a brawl between Sanders and Joe Biden. Now we see Elizabeth Warren edging Sanders out for second place in a few polls. Biden, meanwhile, remains comfortably ahead of both of them.

What did Sanders do wrong in 2016? It wasn’t challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. That was fair. Rather, it was his savaging her long after she had become the obvious victor. By May 3, Trump had become the presumptive Republican nominee, but Sanders withheld his endorsement for Clinton until July 12. The game was political extortion, threatening the Democratic Party and its candidate with chaos at the national convention if his demands weren’t met.

Interesting that some prominent leftists, Bernie people in the past, have recently moved to Warren, the other populist progressive. Katrina vanden Heuvel, publisher of the left-wing Nation magazine, sang Warren’s praises in a Washington Post column that barely acknowledged Sanders’ existence — and even those rare mentions seemed designed to appease the democratic socialist’s avid fandom.

An oddity of the Sanders phenomenon has been his obsessive need to lecture the public on the beauties of socialism. In a recent spiel, Sanders went to great lengths to brand popular Medicare as a socialist-style program.

Is it? Medicare isn’t socialized medicine. It is, however, socialized insurance. But let’s not quibble. We can easily believe that conservatives in those gated retirement communities would grab their pitchforks if their Medicare benefits were menaced. But they might also turn the weapons around to anyone who calls them socialists. Sanders is not going to change their mindset.

Calling Medicare socialism does not help Medicare’s cause. When the health insurance program for the elderly was debated in the early 1960s, Ronald Reagan raged that Medicare would be a “socialized program.” If it wasn’t stopped, he warned, “you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in America when men were free.”

The last thing Medicare’s backers would have said at the time is that Medicare would be great because it’s socialism. The long-running problem with Sanders is that he seems more interested in selling the socialism label than the products that allegedly lie behind it.

Sanders might find solace in a poll showing that almost 3 in 4 Democrats are cool with socialism. But one imagines that more like 11 out of 10 Democrats are not at all OK with re-electing Trump.

And that’s why affections on the left are steering toward Warren. She is a progressive, to be sure. Some of her proposals may be attractive, others less so. But when asked how she feels about capitalism, she says things like, “I am a capitalist to my bones,” and “I believe in markets.” Thus, she’d be far more electable than Sanders.

That Warren used to be a Republican — something some heretic hunters on the left use against her — is an attraction in my book. It suggests an understanding about how independents and moderate Republicans hear political messages.

Warren has her demerits. She can grate with her hectoring and incendiary rhetoric. And that weird dance over her claimed Cherokee heritage made one question her judgment. Why in the world, after Donald Trump challenged the claim, did she release a DNA test that showed it to be almost entirely untrue?

So Biden remains the strongest candidate to smite Trumpism. And a burden will be lifted off Democrats once Sanders again becomes the curiosity from Vermont that he once was.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com.To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.

 

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

Tina Peters

YouTube Screenshot

A right-wing conspiracy theorist who was indicted in March on criminal charges of tampering with voting machines to try to prove former President Donald Trump's lies of a stolen 2020 presidential election on Tuesday lost the Republican primary to run for secretary of state of Colorado, the person who oversees its elections.

With 95 percent of the vote counted, Tina Peters, the clerk and recorder of Mesa County, Colorado, was in third place, trailing the winner, fellow Republican Pam Anderson, 43.2 percent to 28.3 percent.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}