A couple of weeks ago, while watching a scene from “Game of Thrones,” I had a Bernie Sanders moment. The High Sparrow, a cultist religious figure played by the brilliant actor Jonathan Pryce, stands alone in the Red Keep where Jamie Lannister (aka “The Kingslayer”) played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, stays watch over the lifeless body of his niece/daughter (I’m not explaining) Myrcella (spoiler alert: a character still alive in the books! And this season features characters dead in the books but still alive on screen). The two talk and Jamie makes a veiled threat of harm to the High Sparrow, or perhaps kill him, for reasons I won’t get into (watch the show!) when suddenly dozens of young men who are in the Sparrow’s camp creep out from the corners of the room leaving Lannister hopelessly outnumbered.
The High Sparrow is a old man, disheveled white hair wearing tattered clothes convinced of his own virture and righteousness. His minions would blindly do anything he asked in a second. Remind you of anyone?
“Does he remind you of Bernie Sanders?” I asked my wife, who laughed and agreed. And I’m not the only one.
The High Sparrow and Bernie Sanders insist they speak the truth. But neither does.
It’s high time that Sanders and his campaign operatives stop insisting there’s a path to the nomination. There isn’t. There are not enough pledged delegates left to capture the nomination. The Sanders campaign would need super-delegates to switch en masse for this to happen. It’s not. In fact, Sanders lost a couple of super-delegates to the Hillary Clinton camp last week. Its’ entirely possible that New Jersey — where Secretary Clinton leads by a huge majority — will put her over the top for the nomination well before the polls close in California; she’s 89 delegates away now and there are a couple of small contests before the June 7 primary in several states. It’s over.
I’m tired of hearing the system is rigged and that the Democratic Party is corrupt. The Nevada Convention serves as a excellent example of Bernie supporters (they weren’t all delegates in the room) of being….oh what’s the word….complete assholes. And the Sanders campaign lied about what happened on CNN. Here’s Politifact’s take on that event:
Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said Nevada Democratic Party leaders “hijacked the process on the floor” of the state convention “ignoring the regular procedure and ramming through what they wanted to do.”
Caucuses and delegate math can be incredibly confusing, and the arcane party structures don’t reflect how most people assume presidential selection works.
But the howls of unfairness and corruption by the Sanders campaign during Nevada’s state Democratic Convention can’t change the simple fact that Clinton’s supporters simply turned out in larger numbers and helped her solidify her delegate lead in Nevada.
There’s no clear evidence the state party “hijacked” the process or ignored “regular procedure.”
We rate this claim False.
The third parties who know Bernie best are the media in Vermont who’ve been covering him for awhile or covered him in the past. From a couple of recent columns by these writers, I get the sense Bernie doesn’t have the temperament to be commander-in-chief and is more like Donald Trump in his management style than like Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama — he’s not going to get stuff done by being a bully.
But take a gander at these columns, one here at SevenDays, an independent Vermont publication, and the other here by a former editor of the Burlington Free Press published in the Lansing, MI CityPulse.
According to some who have worked closely with Sanders over the years, “grumpy grandpa” doesn’t even begin to describe it. They characterize the senator as rude, short-tempered and, occasionally, downright hostile. Though Sanders has spent much of his life fighting for working Vermonters, they say he mistreats the people working for him.
“As a supervisor, he was unbelievably abusive,” says one former campaign staffer, who claims to have endured frequent verbal assaults. The double standard was clear: “He did things that, if he found out that another supervisor was doing in a workplace, he would go after them. You can’t treat employees that way.”
Like several others quoted in this column, the campaign worker would speak only on the condition of anonymity, saying that to do otherwise would constitute “career suicide” in a small state such as Vermont. But others echoed the former employee’s story, saying the senator is prone to fits of anger.
“Bernie was an asshole,” says a Democratic insider who worked with Sanders on the campaign trail. “Just unnecessarily an asshole.”
“He yelled in meetings all the time,” says one of Sanders’ former Senate staffers. “He’d yell, ‘I don’t want to hear excuses! I want to get it done!'”
And from the CityPulse column by Micky Hirten:
Here’s my problem with Bernie Sanders. With few exceptions, I agree with his positions on issues. But I don’t like him or his political temperament. He’d be an awful president.
I followed him carefully when I was editor of the Burlington Free Press in Vermont. Sanders was the state’s sole congressman, lived in Burlington, and would periodically visit with the newspaper’s editors and publisher.
Considering that the Free Press’ editorial positions were very liberal, reflecting the nature of a very liberal Vermont community, one might think that meetings with Sanders were cordial, even celebratory.
They weren’t. Sanders was always full of himself: pious, self-righteous and utterly humorless. Burdened by the cross of his socialist crusade, he was a scold whose counter-culture moralizing appealed to the state’s liberal sensibilities as well as its conservatives, who embraced his gun ownership stance, his defense of individual rights, an antipathy toward big corporations and, generally speaking, his stick-it-to-them approach to politics.
After discussing his favorite issues — corporations, government reform, health care and the like, I asked about his unwillingness to endorse his fellow progressives. He said it wasn’t his role. I suggested voters might expect him to weigh in. He disagreed, clearly annoyed at the persistent questioning. Finally I suggested that he had a larger moral responsibility to the progressive movement.
At which point he jumped out of his seat, told me to go f*** myself and stormed out of the edit board meeting. OK, maybe my persistence bordered on hectoring. But I felt he ought to provide an honest answer. My suspicion was that he resented others for assuming his mantle of progressive leadership and wouldn’t acknowledge them.
I’m not alone in my opinions about Sanders. Chris Graf, long-time Associated Press bureau chief in Vermont, in an article published Sept. 30 in Theweek.com, had this to say about the senator.
“Bernie has no social skills, no sense of humor, and he’s quick to boil over. He’s the most unpolitical person in politics I’ve ever come across,” Graf said. Others who have covered Sanders agree.
Republicans will continue to control the House after the 2016 election. The Democrats have a chance to regain control of the Senate. Split government again. That the parties are unwilling, or at least unable, to work together accounts for the public’s astounding low opinion of Congress. Add a president as unyielding as Sanders to the political mix and we may look back at the current Congress as the good times.
Which is too bad, because Sanders’ positions are really good, progressive and would help Americans. He’d just be really bad advancing them.
So when the High Sparrow makes his next appearance on the Game of Thrones, let me know if you get the Bernie Sanders vibe too.
Hurry George R.R. Martin and finish the next book!