Thursday, December 24, 2015

Bernie Discovers Donald Trump

I've often railed at the phenomenon of the Beltway media''s false equivalence-the both sides do it illusion. They can't point out any fault of the Republican party without pointing to examples that are just as bad, allegedly, from the Democrats.

That is the Rush Limbaugh Age of Media. I do believe Rush-both him and his imitators-are to thank. The media used to be a lot better in the pre talk radio era but since Rush they have been obsessed with avoiding the liberal media tag. This leads them often to draw equivalences that are really quite weak.

So with the wild ride of Trumpism in the GOP, the media will say the same thing is happening to the Democrats with Bernie. But in truth there are a lot of differences. Ironically, Bernie is actually more 'establishment' than Trump in that he has had a long, successful career in politics.

But there really are some interesting similarities between the two. Both in their own very different ways criticize money in politics, buying politicians, and both eschew the use of Super PACs. Both are running in parties that they don't really belong to.

I've always liked Bernie, and he's done a good job in the Senate-often he's been a good foot solider for the Dems. But, it's no secret that I'm a Hillary man and don't think he's the man for the job of President-this time the man for the job is a woman.

His supporters go about proselytizing for Bernie on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere on the Internet that surely loses more people than it gains. They always start by claiming she's no different than Jeb or Rubio-not exactly the way to start the conversation if you're trying to win people over who support HRC, as this is patently false.

Then there was Bernie's failed attempt to profit off the data breach that his own team used to steal Hillary's information. Yet Bernie, or at least his campaign team tried to use this politically. This, it's now clear, failed completely.

It turns out that Dem voters are not nearly as angry at their party's Establishment as GOP voters are at theirs.

Starting with Sunday, there's been an interesting change for the Bern. There has not been a peep from his campaign on the data thing and the lawsuit-that they are still purportedly going forward with. Instead, Bernie is talking about Donald Trump. He got a lot of love from even a Hillary bot like me after he called out Trump for his vulgar smear of Hillary.

Bernie has more to say about Trump.

"Donald Trump is "very smart," Bernie Sanders said during an interview aired Thursday — because the Manhattan mogul and former star of NBC's "The Apprentice" franchise knows how to play the media."

"In a discussion on CNN's "New Day" with Chris Cuomo, Sanders spoke to why he thought the Republican candidate's poll numbers keep advancing higher and higher and he appears to be solidifying support in the party's base a little more than a month before voters head to the polls in the first primary states."

“Well Chris, you’re going to have to ask the media precisely why. I mean, Trump is a media guy," Sanders said, before dropping in a reference to the annual Tyndall Report on news coverage, which found that "ABC World News Tonight" featured 81 minutes of Trump and just 20 seconds of him in the same time frame.

"Now you tell me why," Sanders continued. "And I think it has to do with the fact that Trump is very smart."

Trump, he remarked, "knows that the media is not so interested in the serious issues facing this country."

"They love you know, bombastic remarks, they love silly remarks," he explained, alluding to the coverage of Trump's mockery of fellow candidates' sweating as an example. "So I think this is more of an indictment of the media, actually, than it is of Trump."

Read more:
Yet, I think that Bernie''s rather pious comments miss an important point. Like it or not, Bernie's campaign is very one dimensional. It's always a thundering stump speech about chasing the money changers out of Wall St. I agree with a decent deal of what he says-though not everything. But he refuses to admit that style is part of politics. That no one wants to be listen to a Jeremiad 24/7.

When Al Sharpton ran for President he realized that he needed to loosen up his image a little-show he can laugh, even laugh at himself a little. A real problem of Bernie is he doesn't evolve in every sense of the word-indeed, that's the knock on Hillary: she evolves too much. Bernie has been rock solid since 1975. But in a campaign that's a real weakness:

"Most candidates evolve: Barack Obama and George W. Bush became better at communicating and campaigning during their first presidential races, and their agendas developed overarching themes. Mr. Sanders, by contrast, was repeating old talking points on Saturday night — like breaking up big banks and increasing taxes on the rich — without convincingly saying how he would achieve those goals or presenting them in powerful new language. As the debate demonstrated, he has yet to grow from a movement messiah into a national candidate whom many people can imagine as president.";postID=5737999290740143630;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=44;src=link

What Trump does have but Bernie eschews is style. Bernie is contemptuous of the very idea. But when talkking about how bad stuff is you at least need some levity. 

Indeed, notice that Bernie had a rare moment of levity the other day when he defended Hillary against Trump''s vile slurs. He used humor and he talked about Trump and the news cycle. 

To win you have to have these less highminded moments as well. As much as he'd reject it, Bernie could learn from Trump. Maybe his recent focus on Trump is smart. Going after him is giving him something more than just another stump speech. 

P.S. You could argue that on the plane between substance and style, Bernie is a 10 on substance and 0 on style and Trump the opposite. Maybe some candidate in the future will examine both these campaigns and come up with an interest prototype that hits the happy medium between deadly serious and wholly frivolous. Someone with some substance but some style rather than all one and none of the other. 


  1. Saying someone doesn't have style is like saying the Fed doesn't have a policy. I don't think it's possible not to have one. I actually quite like Bernie's style, and am likewise repulsed by Trump's.

    This guy has the perfect style for me: if only he was a politician:
    (and just in case that doesn't skip to the right part, I'm NOT talking about William Lane Craig)
    He'd be getting about 0.5% of the vote, but I'd be one of them. It's fun listening to Hitchens, but there's something about Hitchens that just too much. It causes me to be distrustful. Carroll on the other hand... his personality would be the perfect "con man" to victimize me. I have a hard time NOT trusting him based on style points alone.

    I know it's your point that Trump gets most of his appeal from his style... but on a personal level, there's not another candidate in the race who's style is more unattractive to me than Trump's. That includes the ones that have already dropped out. The only thing good about it is it's unscripted nature. Which makes me wonder why all the "truther" business around "schlong?" Why doesn't Trump just state plainly "Yeah, it means 'fucked'... so what? What I meant was Hillary, got dicked... she got fucked... she bent over and took a hard one from Obama. Why is that hard to understand???" Wouldn't THAT be refreshing, rather than all this schlong truther BS? He ruins his only good quality. Trump is a weird mix of unfiltered crudeness combined with whiny victim mentality combined with shameless liar. Instead of strength, I hear volatile prickliness (a kind of weakness), proud ignorance and false bravado. I can see why a Klan member would like him.

    Just another reason I feel disconnected from my fellow Americans.

    1. I'm looking forward to the day when all the headlines declare:

      "Trump gets 'schlonged' HARD by Hillary!!"


      I think she should have an aid keep a big black strap-on just off stage in case she needs to explain to the press what the headlines mean with visual aids.

  2. The line will be she engulfs him. LOL

  3. Yes, I got to admit I do find his style kind of funny. I said style-not content. I dont' agree with all his talk of a crackdown on Latinos and Muslims, etc.

    But stylistically I find him amusing-not necessarily as President to be sure, but as the GOP frontrunner for sure.

    Of course, technically everyone has a sense of style just some are good and some are bad. I'm not a fan of Bernie's style for the most part. I agree he's sort of one note.

    He was good though when he defended HRC and went after Trump. Of course, I think that because I'm a big HRC fan. But apart from that, Bernie allowed himself a little more levity there than usual and it was good.

    I admit I don't have a taste for dry and uninteresting. I don't agree politics should be boring, etc.

  4. Not to rob it in buddy but maybe you are disconnected from your fellow Americans-now even Stephen Colbert has come around on Trump and admits he likes hist style. LOL

    1. Thanks for the link. Yes, my style taste is vastly unpopular. In the past when I've encountered Trump-like personalities... say in kindergarten... I was repulsed then too. I wanted nothing to do with those kids.

      It is hard to say who's more repulsive sometimes though: Trump or Cruz. Trump is like the kid who starts throwing rocks at the different kids. Cruz didn't think of throwing rocks at them, but once he sees them being thrown, he yearns desperately to be one of the kids throwing the rocks, and thus when he is provisionally allowed to join the rock-throwers, he throws them with extra enthusiasm to curry favor with the rock throwing instigators.

      With all my rock throwing analogies, you'd think maybe I was the victim of rock throwing attacks in elementary school... truth is I witnessed and then briefly participated in exactly one rock throwing battle as a kid (rocks flying both directions)... until (you guessed it) somebody got hurt (rock to the head). One of those things that even as a kid you know before you start how stupid it is. I think it comes more from an episode of "All in the Family" when Archie is explaining to Mike, that *of course* he threw rocks at the 'different' kids! "Duh? What else are you supposed to do with them? And dammit, my grandson is damn well NOT gonna be the one having rocks thrown at him... he's gonna be a proud rock-thrower, just like his grandpa!" Perhaps I'd already witnessed a rock-to-head injury by then... and thus was especially repulsed by that attitude.

    2. Mike, I thought I'd see if I could find the clip I was talking about of Archie Bunker. I didn't, but I found this one of Archie on TV presenting his views on gun control. The hilarious thing is that his views are now essentially the official party line of the GOP!... back in the 1970s it was funny and satire, and now it's reality!

      I recall on Saturday nights, my mom my dad and I would all watch All in the Family. I'm sure my dad was a Nixon voter, but the way that Archie Bunker (also a Nixon guy) was skewered on the show didn't bother him it all... I've never heard him laugh so hard in all my life!

  5. Yes, I quite like Sean Carroll's style. But his style is nothing like Bernie's. For me, Bernie is just a droning Old Testament prophet. Again, I emphasize style over content. Much of what he says I agree with, but the way he says it, kind of grates on me after awhile. It's just the same stump speech in the same exact way every time.

    It's not exactly suspenseful. Again, I think he's smart to go after Trump. It infects him with a little more levity. He was good when he played along with the Larry David skit rather than lecturing everyone that economic inequality is a very serious problem and he's running a serious campaign.

    1. Mike, you probably watch a lot more of Bernie than I do. You watch more of everyone than I do. I may well get sick of him too after a while. But for the brief viewings I've had of him and for his appearance on Bill Maher, etc, I've always rather liked him.

      I have to say though that I'm getting seriously sick of Trump now. I don't mind hearing ABOUT Trump, but I find it painful to watch him anymore. I'm just sick of him and his style.

    2. I never liked his TV show either. So I was already sick of him going into this.

      Not that I'd be soaking up Jeb! goodness if it weren't for Trump! Far from it... but he'd at least be a lot easier to avoid. I could probably take 30 second clips of Jeb! w/o feeling woosy. I might think he sounds phony, or boring... but I could calmly sit there and evaluate what he was or was not saying. Not so with Trump for me! And there's no avoiding him either. Trump seems to have penetrated every nook and cranny of the media to the point that I wish we could just get straight to his humiliating 'schlonging' and be done with him forever. The only thing that would make me wish for more of Trump is if he were at the head of a 3rd party, splitting the GOP vote for a LONG time to come.

    3. See that's a big difference too. I always liked his show alright. I got mad at him in 2011 when he started the Birther stuff but this time around I figured out early he actually helps the Dems.

      So your reaction to Jeb is a worry. In your mind he sounds reasonable. A lot of people stop there. He sounds reasonable, maybe let's vote for him.

    4. It's not so much that he sounds reasonable, it's that in contrast to Trump, I can stylistically bear listening to him... for all his phoniness and talking points, etc, he sounds like a typical politician. Not exactly pleasant to listen to, but bearable. I can see being fed up with that, but to me, good politics is boring-as-shit politics, and it shouldn't dominate our lives. I do yearn for less exciting days on the political front.

  6. One more observation. My least favorite candidates are Rubio, Christie, Kasich, Jeb, and Fiorina.

    Why they are the real Republicans. Rubio to me is the most dangerous. That you fund his style reasonable makes my point.

    Not just you either by any stretch. To people who don't really make it their business to know the issues deeply Rubio on a stylistic basis sounds reasonable just like W did.

    Trump obviously doesn't which is why he'd have very little chance in the general.

    Did you see my post on Rubio today? That NH editorial writer put it well. Rubio has this talent for speaking a whole bunch of words without saying a damn thing.

    If he were elected he'd have a blank check to pretty much do anything as he's ruled nothing out-including Trump's proposals on Muslims and immigration.

    So he scares me a lot more than Trump. Casual voters can easily be fooled by him whereas they will be able to see that Trump is a wild man and totally unsuitable.

    1. I'll give Trump credit for being unscripted. I don't like the 'talking points' style of most of the others. Cruz is especially bad in that regard, IMO. He's "slick Teddy." Cruz is smart enough to calculate on the fly exactly what's optimal to say. Trump is just Trump most of the time: he's smart, but one doesn't get the impression he's calculating what to say most of the time.

      I don't recall Bernie coming off as very "scripted" sounding either. Do you get that impression? Clinton is much more careful. She's a little like Cruz in that regard. She's smart enough to navigate her way along thinking politically. So if it was Clinton vs Cruz or Clinton vs Rubio it would be more of a political game in the traditional sense. Clinton vs Trump will be completely different. I'm not a giant Clinton fan, but I'm calculating she's the best choice. The last thing I get is excited listening to Clinton, but for me that's actually a plus! A vote for Clinton is a vote for uneventful sanity and competence: no matter who's she's up against on the GOP side.

      I think Clinton could even get my life-long Republican dad's vote if she's up against Trump. My dad is repulsed by dirty and crude language... always has been. He's just from that generation... and part of the country. I recall him telling me how he learned to dislike people from New Jersey in college... I imagine the way they talked must have had something to do with it. Ha! I had to learn how to curse from other kids, because the only foul language I heard at home came from my mom. I'm sure Trump's crudity is NOT winning him over... Lol. Funny how little things like that can make a difference.

    2. No I wouldn't say Bernie is scripted. But he says more or less the same thing in the same words. I quoted above:

      Most candidates evolve: Barack Obama and George W. Bush became better at communicating and campaigning during their first presidential races, and their agendas developed overarching themes. Mr. Sanders, by contrast, was repeating old talking points on Saturday night — like breaking up big banks and increasing taxes on the rich — without convincingly saying how he would achieve those goals or presenting them in powerful new language. As the debate demonstrated, he has yet to grow from a movement messiah into a national candidate whom many people can imagine as president."

  7. To me Rubio just sounds like a guy who memorizes his speeches word for word. Curz is actually a more skilled debater. Like in the CNBC debate he was able to recall that the moderators had said to the various candidates had said in his harangue of the moderators.

    1. I agree that Cruz is a skilled and calculating debater. It may well be that he'd actually be far more dangerous to Clinton than Rubio. He'd be a match of wits for Clinton. His extreme policy positions would argue against his viability... but I still think he's got an eye towards the general. He has a pivot towards the center all planned out... despite his declared goal of just bringing out more conservatives to the polls.

  8. I have to confess, my ideal America would be one in which the political equivalent to a Sean Carroll could be president. And the other party would put forward a Steve Novella or a Jerry Coyne or a Kenneth Miller. A stupid waste-of-time fantasy? Probably, but that's my ideal, and I can't help it! A debate actually worth listening to! If that's what politics were like, I'd be just as big a political junkie as you. This whole business about style interests me very little. A classic example was when Rubio "got" Bush when Bush tried attacking him for his Senate attendance. There was nothing substantive about that whatsoever. It was paper-thin junior high insultology, and it left me completely unimpressed. For the life of me, I can't understand why that moment stood out.

    Maybe it's the "reality" TV thing (which, BTW, I suspect is about as "real" as professional wrestling): I don't get it. I know you're a fan, but I can't imagine a worse non-physical torture than being forced to watch Real Housewives of Atlanta (something my ex-GF would watch... much to my horror!). I'd rather watch a Gilligan's Island marathon. At least I could fantasize about Mary Ann!... Real Housewives puts me off the idea of sex altogether! Lol.

    If we're going to have politics descend to the lowest possible enterprise, why not just vote for mud-wrestling porn stars? To me that would be a YUUUGE improvement!

    1. I mean I like a nice debate. Carroll is great. But why would a Presidential debate center on cosmology alone?

      It wouldn't. Politics could never be like that. If I'm wrong point out the examples in US or elsewhere that it ever has been.

      By the way you may like and respect Sumner but he engages in lots of junior high insults-as does Cochran.

      And that Rubio-Jeb thing did have an important point-why, how can Americans vote for him for POTUS when he has totally blown off his old job as Senator? Don't the people have Florida have a reasonable gripe?

      This is a pattern for him. Once he gets a job, he's already looking for his next promotion.

      Politics is never going to be so highbrow-as there's too much at stake.

    2. Yes, I like pretty much every reality tv show know to man. Who said it's anything to do with reality? It's much better than that. Reality tv is what they do in Britain.

      The Eastenders is like reality tv-how a normal fish wife and her family live their lives. Boring as watching paint dry.

      Though the Real House Wives of Atlanta are my least favorite version. I like NJ, NY, and Orange County better.

      Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but there are a lot of better looking women on tv today than Maryann for me.

      Don't get me wrong-on reality tv, I'm the outlier more than you, I'd guess. I don't meet many folks who agree with me here. Most take your attitude that it's not really reality at al. Of course not-that'd be boring as heck.

      Who would want to watch that?

  9. Simply wishing for less excitement in politics won't make it so. That's what I focus on-not simply noting that things are awfully exciting but maybe trying to tease out why.

    As for more sedate politics there's a saying from the 60s Black Power movement-'No justice no peace'-that's directed at those who want to wish it all away.

    My theory is politics are like this thanks to the recent deviance of the Republican party. Trump will ironically be a force who will resolve a lot of things or at least make it impossible to go back to the old comfortable illusions in the future.

    1. Well, I wouldn't count Carroll vs Miller as boring. But that to me seems a pie-in-the-sky unobtainable goal. We're headed in exactly the opposite direction. I'd settle for lying, script reading, phonie ... *but competent* ... typical politicians with uninteresting things to say.

      I don't see anything good coming out of the Trump experiment, ... except an HRC presidency. But if you think GOP standards are low now, wait till Trump has loosened them up a bit. I'd fully expect the tantrum-indulging GOP to even refuse to call Hillary "president" after she wins. Most at least afforded Obama that respect. I expect they'll call her names to her face. Trump is making that all possible! But, like you, if the Democrats can take back congress, then she might actually have a good run. I agree with you that we need one-party rule (Democrats) for the foreseeable future. But until and unless congress and the presidency is in Democratic hands, a Clinton presidency will be just as mired in the mud of GOP intransigence as has been the Obama years... in fact, it might get worse. Ryan will soon be out on his ear as speaker if he keeps pissing off the talk radio crowd, so I don't hold out much hope for that.

      Still I see Clinton as a road block to GOP madness. That's pretty much all I can hope for realistically: keep the barbarians outside the gate (as they drive themselves to new levels of reality-hating delusion and reckless rage). I wouldn't care if she had no other accomplishments as president.

    2. Other than staving off GOP madness, I don't see any chance for actual progress until 2020.

  10. "I don't see anything good coming out of the Trump experiment, ... except an HRC presidency."

    To me the most important is HRC Presidency. I do see some other potential benefits too.

    More than anything I think Trump changes things. The GOP is going to be remade and not entirely in a bad way. I think the GOP will no longer be a party though but a couple of them.

    I also think Trump will have an impact on the press and campaign finance in the future in positive ways. Bernie preached campaign finance but Trump's example is very interesting even if his wealth and celebrity makes his example tough to replicate.

    But he has rewritten the rules of how to run a campaign and it will be interesting to see how that works. As I said in this piece both he and Bernie together will have some interesting lessons for the future.

    But after Trump you have to admit that at least for Presidential races, super PACs are overrated.