For those still feeling the Bern, I’ve some bad news: Bernie Sanders will never be president. This is first and foremost because he’ll never, ever be the Democrat nominee. The man who never really was yesterday’s candidate (except in Vermont) is nonetheless yesterday’s news.
While I wrote about this prior to Thursday’s Star Wars bar scene (a.k.a. the Democratic Debate), that no one is talking about Sanders after that event tells the tale. His case is a curious one, too.
When Sanders crashed the 2016 Democrat primaries, he seemed a breath of fresh Green Mountain State air up against Mrs. Establishment. Sure, he had no charisma, but, hey, what are we talking about here? His opponent was Ice Maiden Hillary.
Moreover, Sanders’ message’s time had come. He demonstrated that open socialism (as opposed to the Democrats’ erstwhile closeted variety) now sells. He was a bit like Donald Trump, who captured the GOP nomination partially because on immigration he was willing to go where no modern Republican had gone before. The senator was the first American Fabian in the field.
But having seen this, two years later Democrat hopefuls essentially quoted 19th-century Brit Sir William Harcourt and declared, “We’re all socialists now.” So why would the Democrat Party, which hates old white males almost as much as dead white males, need Sanders?
From their panoply of panderers they can choose a woman. They can choose a minority. They can choose a minority woman. They can choose a woman who claimed to be a minority woman; a man who claims to have a husband; a minority man who claimed to be an ancient Greek gladiator; or a blonde, two-brain-cell-wonder woman who’ll claim to be anything you want. Who could ask for anything less?
Yet Sanders is less. More wizened than wise, gray but not gay, more white than woke, he’s now reaching for others’ radicalism. For all his manifold flaws, his message had traditionally been more economic than racial, but now he has embraced the idea of reparations for slaves who don’t exist. He supports free healthcare for aliens who’ve broken into our country. And while he partied in a Soviet Union that might lock men masquerading as women up, earlier this year he hung a “transgender” flag at his office.
So what does Sanders have to recommend him? The voice in the wilderness has become the toothless lion among the wild things. Bernie is now the crazy old uncle at the table, a walking, talking anachronism trying to seem hip by copying the young.
Sanders’ next major problem concerns decrepitude vs. pulchritude: He’s the antithesis of what in 2011 I called “that presidential look.” Like it or not, many people vote on superficial bases, and being unattractive will likely cost you enough votes to turn an otherwise winnable election. Just consider: When was the last time a white-haired man, a bald man or one sporting glasses won a presidential contest?
Answer: Prior to the television age.
Of course, Sanders is white-haired, bald and bespectacled. When President Jimmy Carter tried to make Ronald Reagan’s age an issue during the 1980 election and asked him, “Ronnie, how come you look younger every day I see a new picture of you riding on horseback?” Reagan replied, “Jimmy, that’s easy. I just keep riding older horses.”
Well, there’s not a horse around that could make Sanders look good — not since the old gray mare who ain’t what she used to be in 2016, anyway.
Oh, note, Reagan was 68 in 1980. Sanders will be 79 at election time 2020.
The senator’s last major deficit is that, to quote what commentator Pat Buchanan quipped about Bob Dole, “he’s like Richard Nixon — without the charm.” Sanders’ personality never really seems to thaw from the Vermont winters, as he exudes all the warmth of a 50s-era Soviet commissar. And in politics, charisma is king.
Add to this Democrats’ governance by prejudice — they don’t like white men, the aged or Jews — and, hey, it’s Dead End at Bernie’s. Similar to the ’89 film that characterization is patterned after, some of Sanders’ underlings may know he’s dead, but they have reasons to pretend otherwise.
Of course, the old white male can still go back to Vermont and remain senator until he’s a dead white male. But if you’re still feeling the Bern, well, it’s probably something you ate.