Bernie Sanders gets word out that Joe Biden is blowing it

So what's Bernie Sanders up to these days, now that the Democratic Party has gotten rid of him a second time?

Backseat-driving for Joe Biden, it seems, murmuring to people who are somehow all leaking to the same reporter at the Washington Post that Joe is blowing it.

Bernie came so close to taking the presidential nomination before the Democrats rigged it away from him he can't quite quit. So, off to the press he goes:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is privately expressing concerns about Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, according to three people with knowledge of the conversations, and is urging Biden’s team to intensify its focus on pocketbook issues and appeals to liberal voters.

Sanders, the runner-up to Biden in the Democratic primaries, has told associates that Biden is at serious risk of coming up short in the November election if he continues his vaguer, more centrist approach, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive talks.

The senator has identified several specific changes he’d like to see, saying Biden should talk more about health care and about his economic plans, and should campaign more with figures popular among young liberals, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

The Hill got some leaks from Camp Bernie, too, here.

Which is kind of wretched stuff, given that you'd think Bernie would be in a position to call up Old Joe and give him the poop. According to the Post, he has. But somehow he feels it's got to get into the press too, for Camp Trump to laugh over.

It's also the opposite of what Biden is trying to do in his campaign -- gaslight the voters into the hazy impression that he's a moderate. He's already got all the crazy Bernie stuff on the record as part of his platform. But apparently he's not campaigning on it much, something that's an obvious response to those ideas being unusually unpopular among the mainstream of American voters.

Bernie is undeterred, and it's likely his press push is a bid to tell voters 'hey, I'm not part of this,' and 'don't blame me when Joe loses.'

There's a bit of an argument for this because much of what Bernie is supposedly telling Joe is actually good advice. He wants Joe to be out there on the hustings, same as Bernie was, doing retail politics. He wants Joe to be seen and pictured with popular younger Democrats such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, someone who's toxic to independent and conservative voters. He's pointing out that Joe is unpopular with Latinos. (Many Blacks, actually, too.)

All of this, from a technical perspective, is very good campaign advice. What's more, Bernie knows it because Bernie lived it. Bernie did retail politics up the wazoo, engaged in very specific public policy proposals in his campaign speeches, hid nothing, and because popular as a straight talker on the left. His appeal to younger Democrats defied all conventional wisdom. He achieved this, so he does know what he's talking about. He's not offering Biden any bad campaign advice. He's actually a backseat driver in this regard, and about as popular as one.

Because the whole Biden approach has been the opposite. Keep Biden in the basement. Allow campaign appearances only when necessary. Have Joe read off the teleprompter so the handlers can call the shots. Pretend to be a moderate, talking out of all sides of his mouth. Retreat when something comes out as too rabidly leftist. Say it never was said at all. Or better still, pretend Trump said it. 

For the Bernie set, this is disgusting, and Bernie knows that at least his branch of the party is quite likely to stay home. Bernie is realist enough to know he'd rather have Biden over Trump, as feckless and malleable as Biden is. There's still power in it for the radicals if they can get the empty vessel into the White House. 

So he's pushing Joe, and he's going to the press about it, hoping others will push him too. For Biden, who wants to be thought of as Mr. Reasonable Moderate, it's a no-win situation. He can't win by shunning the Bernie-ites and their crazy leftist program, and he can't win by shouting directly that he's all Bernie-ite, too.

So now it gets played out on the public stage though the press that Bernie sees some problems, Bernie sees a loss on the horizon. Lucky Joe.


Photo illustration by Monica Showalter with use of two images by Gage Skidmore, via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0.

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