Washington in a panic over Sanders

30 January 2016 12:56 pm

The prospect of a Bernie Sanders victory in Iowa next week has got all the power mongers in Washington in a flat panic.

The Sanders powerbase is young people, including a growing number of young women, liberal idealists and workers in some labour unions who aren’t going along with the establishment. And they are now within striking distance.

In an interview with Politico, President Barack Obama has come as close as possible to endorsing Clinton over Sanders.
“I think that what Hillary presents is a recognition that translating values into governance and delivering the goods is ultimately the job of politics, making a real-life difference to people in their day-to-day lives,’’ Obama said. “I don't want to exaggerate those differences, though, because Hillary is really idealistic and progressive. You'd have to be to be in, you know, the position she's in now, having fought all the battles she's fought and, you know, taken so many, you know, slings and arrows from the other side. And Bernie, you know, is somebody who was a senator and served on the Veterans' Committee and got bills done.”

He says Sanders is the “bright shiny object that people don't, haven't seen before.”

“That's a disadvantage to her. Bernie is somebody who —although I don't know as well because he wasn't, obviously, in my administration, has the virtue of saying exactly what he believes, and great authenticity, great passion, and is fearless. His attitude is, ‘I got nothing to lose.’ “

Democrat House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi has come out attacking Sanders’ pledge that he would raise taxes to pay for his health care plan, saying flatly on Wednesday, "We're not running on any platform of raising taxes."

Meanwhile, the Washington Post has come out with an editorial attacking what it calls Sanders’ “fiction filled campaign”.

“Mr. Sanders’s success so far does not show that the country is ready for a political revolution,’’ the Washington Post says. “It merely proves that many progressives like being told everything they want to hear.”

John Cassidy in the New Yorker says the polls are all over the place. He says the polling has tightened up considerably and it's too close to call. At the start of January, Clinton had a double-digit lead. Now some polls show Sanders edging ahead—further evidence that the momentum is on his side.

Pollster Nate Silver says Clinton is a little better than a 2-to-1 favourite to come out on top, but cautions that the polls in Iowa are not that accurate.

As Dana Milbank says in the Chicago Tribune, it doesn't speak well of Clinton that, next to her, a 74-year-old guy who has been in politics for four decades is a bright and shiny object. The phenomenon has at least as much to do with Clinton as with Sanders: Democrats are eager for an alternative to her inauthentic politics and cautious policies.

Rather than panicking, the Democrats should be looking at why the polls are saying Sanders will beat Trump and what it says about what voters want.