Bernie and Barney

I suspect Bernie’s demand that former congressman Barney Frank and Connecticut governor Daniel Malloy be removed from the Democratic Platform committee has more to do with his being thin skinned than with politics…both have gone after him in ways that Bernie found upsetting (not to mention effective). Frank has exposed weaknesses in Bernie’s Wall Street reform policies (he was brutal after Bernie’s stumble with the Daily News) and Malloy has been furious with Bernie since Bernie unfortunately sided with the NRA on a couple votes after the Sandy Hook shooting. Bernie lost Connecticut, in part because of Malloy’s impassioned campaign against him, and he earlier lost Frank’s state of Massachusetts. But in particular Bernie got stomped in New York after a huge investment of resources, money and credibility, and doubtless Frank’s incessant appearances in the news after Bernie’s tongue-tied Daily News interview helped with that stomping.

But such an angry demand leaves Bernie’s own Platform Committee choices–e.g., James Zogby, Cornel West–open to demands they be booted on the same basis (especially West, who has been extremely critical of Hillary Clinton and President Obama) and as such it seems less driven by strategy than by temperament. Perhaps it actually is a sign that he, as Rachel Maddow suggested, is planning on forcing a contested convention by any means possible…but I am not convinced this was all that Machiavellian. I just think that Bernie hates the guys. He and Frank, in particular, have been arguing for decades. They have never gotten along and it has carried over into the campaign.

Of course, things like this are also a useful way to drive fundraising, as the Sanders campaign’s already weakened cash flow money will start drying up even more once the primaries are over. The campaign will have to force a series of such confrontations that will get lots of media and social media coverage and keep some funding coming in. The fact that Bernie is making these demands now, before the primaries are even over, is probably not accidental. He is still telling his supporters that they will win all the remaining contests, a belief that is critical in driving social media debate on this. He won’t win all of them, as he must know–he will lose New Jersey, Washington DC and Puerto Rico definitely, New Mexico probably and is still behind in California, where he would have to win his first ever primary in a state with less that 75% white voters–and if he does lose those races, his demands will have a lot less force behind them. So now is the time, as Bird said so emphatically on his horn.

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