Politico Reports That Bernie Sanders Is Making Moves Towards A 2020 Run

In a recent post I noted that The Hill found that Democratic Party insiders consider Bernie Sanders to be the front runner for the 2020 Democratic nomination. Today Politico is running a story saying, Bernie makes moves pointing to 2020 run. From their report (with my comments following):

Bernie Sanders is taking steps to address longstanding political shortcomings that were exposed in 2016, ahead of another possible presidential bid in 2020.

From forging closer ties to the labor movement to shoring up his once-flimsy foreign policy credentials, the moves have provided the senator inroads into party power structures that largely shunned him in favor of Hillary Clinton last year. They’ve also empowered the progressive icon to harness his newfound political power and help Democrats fight President Donald Trump’s administration.

Sanders has been working closely with figures who are close to the party establishment he’s long railed against, like American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. And he’s been meeting with international affairs experts such as Bill Perry, a defense secretary in the administration of President Bill Clinton, around a series of speeches designed to define his international vision, one year after running a campaign heavy on domestic policy and light on the rest of the world.

The Vermont independent hasn’t decided whether to run for president again in 2020. To his closest allies, his efforts represent a natural next step in his role as “outreach chairman” for Senate Democrats, a new position created for him late last year by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.

Yet the maneuvers could form an important part of a Sanders 2020 effort, a dozen of those allies acknowledged to POLITICO — one that looks markedly different from his surprise 2016 bid, which often suffered from a lack of mainstream political support.

“He is now in a very different position than he’s ever been in before. He’s just stepping into the role,” said senior adviser Ari Rabin-Havt, insisting Sanders doesn’t see the changes as prep for 2020. “Let’s be clear: He’s in charge of outreach for the caucus. So when people say he’s doing a better job of reaching out? Well, yeah, he’s doing his job. This is a new phase of his career.”

…In contrast to the run-up to 2016, the group of counselors also now includes pollster Ben Tulchin, who joined that year’s campaign only after Sanders was convinced that hiring a pollster was worth it. A pair of senior advisers in Sanders’ Senate office have also joined. Rabin-Havt, a former Harry Reid aide, has been directing political outreach, and Matt Duss, former president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, is working on foreign policy.

Recognizing the senator’s post-campaign national platform and 99 percent name ID across the country — and aware that his status as a potential 2020 front-runner draws further eyeballs — his team has stopped sticking to just a few pet issues. Now it tries to inject him into as many productive national conversations as possible, sometimes with the support of his wife’s new Sanders Institute think tank…

After resisting advisers’ pleas to give more foreign policy-oriented speeches during his campaign, Sanders has also now been working with Duss to build a public record on international affairs. That work has entailed more than just his trio of major public speeches on the topic this year — a February address to J Street on Trump, Israel and anti-Semitism; a speech on authoritarianism, in June, at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and a September talk at Missouri’s Westminster College to stress the importance of partnerships “not just between governments, but between peoples.”

While it certainly does not hurt for Bernie Sanders to shore up his foreign policy credentials, they are hardly flimsy compared to most other recent presidential candidates. He is far more experienced at pretty much anything in government than Barack Obama or Donald Trump was. While on paper Hillary Clinton appears to have stronger credentials, it is worth noting that Sanders has been right far more often than Clinton on the major foreign policy decisions of the past couple of decades. I do hope that he will spend much more time offering a change in our foreign policy than he did during the 2016 campaign.

Democratic Insiders See Bernie Sanders As Top Contender For 2020 Nomination

It is rather ridiculous to try to predict the 2020 nominee this far in advance, but encouraging to see the rankings from The Hill. In an article entitled How Dem insiders rank the 2020 contenders, Bernie Sanders is listed first:

1. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Advisers to the senator are telegraphing that Sanders is eyeing a 2020 run — and his network is already ready to go, with supporters convinced that he was the candidate who would have beaten President Trump in 2016.

“His people have never gone away,” said Democratic strategist Brad Bannon. “And he has a loyal core following out there that will be with him come hell or high water.”

Also working in Sanders’s favor, Bannon said, is the leftward shift of the Democratic Party.

“The Sanders wing is becoming the dominant wing of the party,” he said.

Still, strategists note that Sanders would be 79 in 2020, which could work against him at a time when Democrats are hungry for change.

Following Sanders are: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Sherrod Brown, and Deval Patrick. As is typical in such horse race coverage from the media, there is virtually nothing said about the comparative views or records of the candidates.

It is hopeful that the Sanders wing is referred to the dominant wing of the party. This is also not an isolated view. For example, last July I had a post noting that Vox, A Voice Of The Democratic Establishment, Now Realizes That Bernie Sanders Is The Democrats’ Real 2020 Frontrunner. Of course all available evidence does suggest that Sanders would have won in the general election. He did ten points better than Clinton in head to head polls against Trump, he had far more support among independents and even Republican voters than Clinton had, he was stronger in the rust belt than Clinton, he had no email scandal, and had nothing to fear from leaks of DNC email by Wikileaks. If Clinton supporters claim that Clinton lost due to Comey’s letter or Wikileaks, they should admit that the candidate who would not have been affected by either would have had a better chance to win.

Of course Clinton supporters are not that rational–and some are still not giving up. One of the more ridiculous articles posted recently is from Salon entitled  Here’s your leftover turkey: The case for Hillary Clinton 2020. Needless to say, the case is not very strong, unless you consider being a war monger who came close to Donald Trump, but still lost, to be  points in her favor.

Quote of the Day: Seth Meyers On Generic vs. “Name Brand” Democrats Against Donald Trump

According to a new poll, a generic Democratic opponent would beat President Trump by 10 points in 2020 election. Yeah, the generics do great. It’s the name brands [shows photo of Hillary] who have trouble. –Seth Meyers

[Ten points is also the difference between how Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton did against Donald Trump in head to head polls. Democrats sure could have used that ten points they gave up by nominating Clinton for the general election.]

Bonus Quote

Trump claims the United States’ trade deal with China is unfair. Of course it is. The United States sends China high-quality American-made products, and in exchange China sends back the Donald J. Trump signature suit collection .–James Corden

Excerpts From Hacks Contradict Claims From Clinton Apologists

Skimming through Donna Brazile’s book Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House, I have so far found just a couple excerpts worth quoting to shed more light on the story. I previously discussed the initial media reports about the book here, and have follow up information information here. The second post includes information debunking false claims made by Clinton supporters.

Clinton supporters have often claimed that Clinton deserved the nomination more than Bernie Sanders because of she was raising money for other candidates. While this would not justify nominating a corrupt warmonger such as Clinton, Brazile’s book shows that this isn’t even factually true. This is seen in this excerpt from chapter 10 of Hacks:

Right around the time of the convention the leaked emails revealed Hillary’s campaign was grabbing money from the state parties for its own purposes, leaving the states with very little to support down-ballot races. A Politico story published on May 2, 2016, described the big fund-raising vehicle she had launched through the states the summer before, quoting a vow she had made to rebuild “the party from the ground up… when our state parties are strong, we win. That’s what will happen.”

Yet the states kept less than half of 1 percent of the $82 million they had amassed from the extravagant fund-raisers Hillary’s campaign was holding, just as Gary had described to me when he and I talked in August. When the Politico story described this arrangement as “essentially… money laundering” for the Clinton campaign, Hillary’s people were outraged at being accused of doing something shady. Bernie’s people were angry for their own reasons, saying this was part of a calculated strategy to throw the nomination to Hillary.

After the release of information from Brazile’s book, Clinton supporters made a number of false claims including that the funding agreement didn’t take effect until after the primaries were over and that Bernie Sanders was offered the same agreement. While this is debunked in my previous post, Hacks also showed that this was not the case:

The other campaigns—Martin O’Malley and Bernie—also signed victory fund agreements that kicked in should they secure the nomination, not seven months before. They also did not specify as much immediate control from the campaign as the one Hillary signed with the DNC.

While this line has been widely quoted for the past week, it is also worth repeating:

The funding arrangement with HFA and the victory fund agreement was not illegal, but it sure looked unethical. If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity.

There is no doubt that it was unethical. It remains to be seen whether this attempt to evade federal campaign finance laws was legal.

As I noted in the previous post, Donna Brazile has been trying to walk back her accusations that the nomination was rigged, but while doing so said that the Clinton campaign was a cult.

Donna Brazile Says Clinton Campaign Was A Cult

During an interview on Morning Joe, Donna Brazile made another statement which will upset establishment Democrats, calling the Clinton campaign a cult:

“Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough said during Brazile’s appearance on the MSNBC show on Wednesday that he thinks President Trump won the 2016 election because of mistakes the Clinton campaign made, former FBI director James Comey and the influence of Russia.

“I’ll put it all in there, but it should have never been a close race,” he said.

He then asked: “Why did they lose? Was it at the end of the day arrogance?”

“It was a cult,” Brazile said. “I felt like it was a cult. You could not penetrate them.”

Brazile has also been trying to walk back her previous description of the nomination battle  between Clinton and Sanders as rigged, despite the evidence from Wikileaks, the class action suit against the DNC, the multiple rules used by the DNC to tilt the results, a previous confession from Tom Perez that it was rigged, and the evidence presented in her own book. Most likely by later this week Brazile will try to walk back her statement that the Clinton campaign was a cult, perhaps saying it was a religion instead.

In other news coming out about her book, The Washington Examiner reports that Brazile felt betrayed by Jake Tapper for criticism of her for providing debate questions to Hillary Clinton. While I remain grateful to Brazile for the information she did divulge which added to the massive amount of evidence that the nomination was rigged, she is certainly not presenting herself as a person of principle.

Update:

Excerpts From Hacks Contradict Claims From Clinton Apologists

Conservative Site Warns Bernie Sanders Will Drive Your Daughters Into Prostitution

Powerline started out a post attributing an increase in underage prostitution in Venezuela to poverty caused by socialism–ignoring that other factors such as corruption have contributed to their economic collapse. The argument became increasingly absurd when trying to project the problems in Venezuela onto others. This led to this bizarre warning:

If this is the destiny you want for your daughters and granddaughters, it can easily be achieved. Just vote for socialists like Bernie Sanders.

Of course they ignore important distinctions, including that a Democratic Socialist such as Sanders would be likely to reduce the corruption in our economic system, and his policies would be far more likely to decrease poverty. In bringing out the socialist label, they also ignore the degree to which Sanders promoted business growth as mayor of Burlington.

Donna Brazile Considered Removing Clinton From Ticket And Replacing Her With Joe Biden

It was inexcusable for a major political party to give the nomination to someone as unfit for high office as Hillary Clinton. There were times in which news reports indicated that party leaders had reservations about her being the candidate, but they came down to only concern for whether she could win, not her suitability for the position. The second major revelation from Donna Brazile’s upcoming book is that she had actually contemplated removing Clinton from the ticket, although not for the right reason. From The Washington Post:

Former Democratic National Committee head Donna Brazile writes in a new book that she seriously contemplated replacing Hillary Clinton as the party’s 2016 presidential nominee with then-Vice President Biden in the aftermath of Clinton’s fainting spell, in part because Clinton’s campaign was “anemic” and had taken on “the odor of failure.”

In an explosive new memoir, Brazile details widespread dysfunction and dissension throughout the Democratic Party, including secret deliberations over using her powers as interim DNC chair to initiate the process of removing Clinton and running mate Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.) from the ticket after Clinton’s Sept. 11, 2016, collapse in New York City.

Brazile writes that she considered a dozen combinations to replace the nominees and settled on Biden and Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.), the duo she felt most certain would win over enough working-class voters to defeat Republican Donald Trump. But then, she writes, “I thought of Hillary, and all the women in the country who were so proud of and excited about her. I could not do this to them.”

Brazile paints a scathing portrait of Clinton as a well-intentioned, historic candidate whose campaign was badly mismanaged, took minority constituencies for granted and made blunders with “stiff” and “stupid” messages. The campaign was so lacking in passion for the candidate, she writes, that its New York headquarters felt like a sterile hospital ward where “someone had died.”

There were many reasons to consider taking Clinton off the ticket, but her isolated fainting spell was among the more trivial. On the other hand, Brazile’s assessment of her campaign as being badly mismanaged is consistent with other reports.

Brazile’s intended replacement ticket of Biden and Booker would have been a much stronger ticket than Clinton/Kaine and probably could have beaten Donald Trump if they had won the nomination through the primary system. It is hard to say what would have happened if the replacement was made at the last minute. Sanders supporters would have questioned why the runner up in the nomination battle was not made the replacement, especially in light of how the party rigged the nomination for Clinton. They would probably have had even more difficulty keeping the votes of Clinton voters considering how twenty-five percent of Clinton supporters voted for McCain/Palin after Clinton lost the 2008 nomination to Barack Obama.

While there was plenty of previous evidence of the party violating its bylaws and rigging the nomination for Clinton, Donna Brazile’s confession of this in another excerpt from her book has again raised the issue. As expected, Clinton supporters have been trying to twist the facts again. They ignore the fact that there was already significant evidence that the party was violating its rules for remaining neutral. They claim that the agreement only affected the general election despite it beginning in 2015 and going through the primary season including multiple matters affecting the primary battle. They claim that Bernie Sanders had a similar agreement when the fund raising agreement offered Sanders was substantially different. They ignore how Clinton used this to starve down ticket candidates of money in a scheme which appears like money laundering and evasion of campaign finance laws.

The bottom line in 2016 was that Clinton was a terrible candidate who could not win a national election fairly. Hillary Clinton could not beat an unknown like Barack Obama in 2008. She could not beat someone as atrocious as Donald Trump in 2016. She could not beat an unlikely challenger like Bernie Sanders in 2016 without massive intervention by the party to rig the nomination for her. The consequence of the DNC rigging the nomination for a candidate who could not win the nomination on her own was having a weak candidate who could not even beat Donald Trump.

Update: Glenn Greenwald has subsequently posted, also debunking some of the false claims from Clinton supporters I mentioned above, along with some bogus attacks being made regarding Donna Brazile and the DNC email.

Donna Brazile Admits The Nomination Was Rigged For Hillary Clinton In 2015

As time goes on we get increasing evidence that the DNC rigged the Democratic nomination for Hillary Clinton while the evidence also increasingly casts doubt about her claims that Russia rigged the general election for Trump. Donna Brazile finally admitted to the unethical conduct at the DNC and rigging the nomination for Hillary Clinton in her new book, Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House. I had hoped to have a post up on this earlier but did not have time until now. There was a lively discussion on Facebook after I posted a comment on this earlier today. As I said then, I would have a higher opinion of her if she hadn’t leaked the debate questions to Clinton, and if she wasn’t pushing the bogus line that Russia cost Clinton the election.

Excerpts from her book were posted today at Politico. Brazile began by admitting that Debbie Wasserman Schultz had allowed the Clinton campaign to control the party writing, “Debbie was not a good manager. She hadn’t been very interested in controlling the party—she let Clinton’s headquarters in Brooklyn do as it desired so she didn’t have to inform the party officers how bad the situation was.”

Brazile described how the party was broke, with Hillary’s campaign “grabbing money.” On further investigation she uncovered unethical actions giving Clinton control of the party by 2015:

Right around the time of the convention, the leaked emails revealed Hillary’s campaign was grabbing money from the state parties for its own purposes, leaving the states with very little to support down-ballot races. A Politico story published on May 2, 2016, described the big fund-raising vehicle she had launched through the states the summer before, quoting a vow she had made to rebuild “the party from the ground up … when our state parties are strong, we win. That’s what will happen.”

Yet the states kept less than half of 1 percent of the $82 million they had amassed from the extravagant fund-raisers Hillary’s campaign was holding, just as Gary had described to me when he and I talked in August. When the Politico story described this arrangement as “essentially … money laundering” for the Clinton campaign, Hillary’s people were outraged at being accused of doing something shady. Bernie’s people were angry for their own reasons, saying this was part of a calculated strategy to throw the nomination to Hillary.

I wanted to believe Hillary, who made campaign finance reform part of her platform, but I had made this pledge to Bernie and did not want to disappoint him. I kept asking the party lawyers and the DNC staff to show me the agreements that the party had made for sharing the money they raised, but there was a lot of shuffling of feet and looking the other way.

When I got back from a vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, I at last found the document that described it all: the Joint Fund-Raising Agreement between the DNC, the Hillary Victory Fund, and Hillary for America.

The agreement—signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC, and Robby Mook with a copy to Marc Elias—specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.

I had been wondering why it was that I couldn’t write a press release without passing it by Brooklyn. Well, here was the answer.

When the party chooses the nominee, the custom is that the candidate’s team starts to exercise more control over the party. If the party has an incumbent candidate, as was the case with Clinton in 1996 or Obama in 2012, this kind of arrangement is seamless because the party already is under the control of the president. When you have an open contest without an incumbent and competitive primaries, the party comes under the candidate’s control only after the nominee is certain. When I was manager of Al Gore’s campaign in 2000, we started inserting our people into the DNC in June. This victory fund agreement, however, had been signed in August 2015, just four months after Hillary announced her candidacy and nearly a year before she officially had the nomination.

I had tried to search out any other evidence of internal corruption that would show that the DNC was rigging the system to throw the primary to Hillary, but I could not find any in party affairs or among the staff. I had gone department by department, investigating individual conduct for evidence of skewed decisions, and I was happy to see that I had found none. Then I found this agreement.

The funding arrangement with HFA and the victory fund agreement was not illegal, but it sure looked unethical. If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity.

Donna Brazile’s confession that the nomination was rigged is hardly the first evidence of this. Their actions were actually quite obvious considering how the rules were used to help Clinton, including both long standing rules to allow the DNC to influence the process, along with changes initiated in 2016 specifically to help Clinton. DNC email released by Wikileaks provided further confirmation. Tom Perez previously admitted this before trying to walk this back. Elizabeth Warren agreed today that the nomination was rigged for Clinton.

If the Democratic Party is going to have a chance to restore its integrity and bring back those who are now reluctant or unwilling to vote for a Democrat again, major reforms will be necessary. This includes eliminating Superdelegates, eliminating front loading of primaries in the south, eliminating restrictions on debates, making primaries open, and ideally removing those from DNC leadership positions who were involved in either giving Hillary Clinton the 2016 nomination or the recent purge of progressives. Tulsi Gabbard has also recommended many of these reforms.

I would also hope that the party move away from Clinton’s right wing views, including curtailing perpetual warfare and the surveillance state, along with the influence of corporations and lobbyists on public policy. (I also suggested on Facebook that putting Peter Daou in front of a firing squad is not a nonnegotiable demand but would be a sign of good faith on their part.)

Update: Donna Brazile Considered Removing Clinton From Ticket And Replacing Her With Joe Biden. Links also in post debunking false claims from Clinton supporters about the excerpt discussed here.

Ideology Versus Party Identification: The Redefinition Of Liberalism By Clinton Democrats

Eric Levitz has an op-ed in The New York Times showing that it is not true that America is a center-right nation. His primary point is to dispute the idea among many Democratic leaders that the Democratic Party should continue to move to the right to gain votes. This a topic which has been addressed many times before, but the part I found most interesting was on the relationship between party and ideological labels.

“…the number of genuine “liberals” and “conservatives” is far smaller than meets the eye. Most voters who identify with those terms are partisans first, and ideologues second. Or as Mr. Kinder and Mr. Kalmoe conclude an analysis of four decades of voter survey data, “ideological identification seems more a reflection of political decisions than a cause.” In other words: The average conservative Republican isn’t a Republican because she’s a conservative — she self-identifies as a conservative because she’s a Republican.

“One crucial implication of this finding is that political elites have enormous power to dictate ideological terms to their rank-and-file supporters. For a healthy chunk of conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, the “liberal” and “conservative” position on most issues is whatever their party leaders say it is. Donald Trump’s success at redefining conservative voters’ consensus views on free trade, American policy toward Russia and the relevance of personal morality to effective political leadership offers a particularly vivid illustration of this phenomenon.”

I would expand on this to point out how the Clintons and other DLC Democrats have redefined liberalism as used by Democrats to mean a rather conservative philosophy. This goes back to the years of Bill Clinton’s presidency, and was exacerbated by Hillary Clinton’s neoconservative foreign policy views, her conservative views on social/cultural issues, and her far right views on civil liberties.

We saw in the 2016, along with Democratic loses when they ran as a Republican-lite party in 2010 and 2014, that this form of conservatism does not win elections. Conservative voters are more likely to identify with Republicans, while true liberals and progressives lack interest in turning out for Clinton-style Democrats. The fallacy of viewing politics on a simplistic left/right political scale was also seen with the nature in which Bernie Sanders was able to bring in more independent and Republican voters than Clinton could, and was far more likely to have won the general election if he was the Democratic nominee.

Bernie Sanders Remains Most Popular Senator In America

Bernie Sanders remains the most popular Senator in America in the latest Morning Consult poll. Mitch McConnell ranks at the bottom.

In one of the worst acts of political malpractice in American history, the Democratic Party passed up the chance to have Bernie Sanders as its nominee, which would have most likely delivered not only the White House, but also the Senate to the Democrats. Instead of nominating a popular and trusted Senator such as Bernie Sanders, the Democratic leadership decided to use its rules to tilt the nomination towards the unpopular and widely distrusted Hillary Clinton.

While Bernie Sanders offered the Democrats a nominee who could excite voters and bring in Republican and independent votes, Clinton polled poorly in the battleground states, among independents, among young voters, and among liberal voters. While Sanders offered a return to more traditional Democratic values, Clinton provided the Democrats with a nominee who backed the neoconservative agenda of George W. Bush and had the ethics of Richard Nixon.

Nominating Clinton in the midst of a major political scandal would have been like the Republicans nominating Nixon if the Watergate scandal had already broken. Thanks to the foolishness and dishonesty of the Democratic leadership, we are now stuck with Donald Trump in the White House and a Republican controlled Senate.