Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Curious Relationship of Sander's Chief Adviser, The Super Delegate System And Money etc.

A post script to yesterday's post about the curious machinations of the Bernie Sanders' campaign in regard to the super delegate system is that his very expensive top adviser, Tad Devine has been in the thick of things in the establishment and modifications of them over the years.  He has been used by the media as an expert on the super delegate system*.  He's recently been quoted as saying about the current rules, "The whole idea behind the reforms was to produce a strong nominee."

Given that, under his advice, Bernie Sanders' campaign has taken every possible position on the super delegates, from calling for their abolition, to trying to flip the ones who didn't announce for him into voting for him, to insisting that they be apportioned on a winner-take-all basis to him if he won a state and every other nuance that could have, at one point, yielded him the nomination, I don't recall any more cynical use of a phony issue by a the alleged idealist in a nomination race.  While I don't think he is the only cynic on Sanders' campaign staff, he's got to be one of the bigger among them.

And, from what I read, Tad Devine's take from the Bernie Sanders campaign is rather huge, according to some things I've read, he was paid more than $800,000 in March of this year, alone.   If it's also true that is because Bernie Sanders and Jeff Weaver were so green in the business that they signed a contract that allowed for unlimited payment to him, I don't know but that would be interesting to find out.   I do think that Sanders should let his devoted contributors know if they're paying for someone like Devine with their small donations at that rate.  I don't know how much of the stuff that has been published about the cash flow in his campaign is true but it should be answered.  And there are other rumors floating around about large chunks of mystery money going into the Sanders campaign, though those might be a result of sloppy reporting by the campaign which doesn't seem to be very on-top of its accounting.  Maybe they should have spent more money on accountants than on advice.

That is especially relevant if, as a group of Bernie Sanders' campaign workers and volunteers are calling for him to do, he concedes the nomination after the California primary, to endorse Hillary Clinton but to then go on to form an independent effort to defeat Trump.  While an "effort" is better than a spoiler campaign - which I increasingly fear he will mount - it is hardly the strong endorsement he owes the Democratic voters whose party he used to run, after he joined it at the age of 74.   If he's doing that, I genuinely hope that Tad Devine isn't hired on to advise it.  I'd keep Jeff Weaver from it, too.  Somehow I don't trust that pair of guys to do anything good in this election.

The story in the New York Times, which has that group's draft proposal it says:

The group says Mr. Sanders is in a similar position as Senator Barack Obama after he energized millions of supporters during his 2008 presidential campaign. However, the authors say Mr. Obama failed to capitalize on the opportunity to change the power structure in America.

“Does Bernie Sanders and his campaign facilitate the growing voice of a new generation of activists who can rack up the defeat of Donald Trump as their first major achievement?” the draft asks. “Or does he raise hell at a party convention and leave the remains of his organization to be picked over by the existing groups on the left that, to date, have been mostly marginal to the broad majority of Americans and Sanders supporters alike?”

If that's true, while I am skeptical of their independent group idea,  they're among the most realistic of the hard-core Bernie Sanders supporters and are far less cynical than those who are still pretending that he's still able to win the nomination.   I fear that Bernie Sanders is listening to those who are selling him on that pipe-dream instead of those who realize that defeating the Republicans is the most important thing in this election.  People like the campaign spokesman Michael Briggs.

Michael Briggs, a spokesman for the Sanders campaign, called the draft plan “totally irrelevant.”

“We are focused on winning the Democratic nomination,” Mr. Briggs said in an email. “This document is something that neither the senator nor anyone he works with has seen. We have no idea who wrote it. We could care less about the document.”

He added that Mr. Sanders “expects to win more delegates in the weeks ahead” and that “he is campaigning to win the nomination.”

It makes me wonder what Michael Briggs is getting paid to say things like that and which side his bread is buttered on.  That line, this late in May, is irrelevant for anything but for continuing to raise money and for enabling the Republicans.   That is the result of the continued pretense that Bernie Sanders will be the Democratic nominee, never mind president of the United States.  I can't see any honest motive in him or his people and the media supporting him pretending that, encouraging the most lunatic of his followers and their paranoia that, somehow, Bernie Sanders is being cheated, even as he falls far behind in the vote count.  If he were her opponent in the general election, she'd be beating him hands-down in the popular vote.

It might be too late to save his reputation among people like me who used to be among his biggest fans, but Bernie Sanders can still rescue himself from being seen as Nader 2.016.   If he is the spoiler who puts Trump in office his reputation and his legacy will go down in flames, the left will take the blame and maybe it should after the series of election year disaster sequels it has produced**.   I doubt that his closest advisers care much about that, at this point.

*  Here's a confession.   Interestingly, the Hunt Commission which came up with the super delegates, was formed in response to the loss in 1980, after Ted Kennedy ran an aggressive and highly damaging campaign against Jimmy Carter's reelection bid.  I supported Kennedy that year - I would come to regret that in November - and I idiotically voted for Barry Commoner as a protest vote.  Still have my button.  I was still stupid enough to think that "symbolic voting" meant anything to anyone except the person who narcissistically casts them.

It is one of my regrets that I didn't vote for Carter that year.  But, then, I had subscriptions to all four of the magazines I've been criticizing for their promotion of Sanders this year, The Nation, Mother Jones, The Progressive and In These Times.  Apparently none of them learned a single thing in the intervening years.

**  Which is why we need a real and realistic left that doesn't do such stupid, self-indulgent things.  Apparently we need an entirely new media of the left, the old one has been the medium through which those sequels have been sold.

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