WASHINGTON — I wonder if, at the outset of his career back in woodsy Vermont, Bernie Sanders — Crazy Bernie, as we say — ever imagined that years later, at the age of 77, he would be running for president, have developed a taste for private jets, be the master of three homes and run on a platform that includes "Medicare-for-all," free college for all and a minimum wage of $15 an hour for all — that and the rest of the Green New Deal, with no hint of how he would pay for it. No one is making a very big issue of it that Crazy Bernie has already rung up a tab of trillions of dollars that the taxpayers will have to pay somewhere down the road.
There was a day when we chuckled about "limousine liberals." What do you call Bernie? A Sybaritic socialist? Sure, he still dresses like a rag doll, but his transportation is another matter. He does not fly first class. He flies private jet and lounges about in his three homes, all tended to by his wife, who previously headed a minor university that just bankrupted. I wonder if she is paying off any of that university's debt that she rang up.
Bernie is not being questioned about the enormous amount of debt his campaign promises are bundling on the taxpayer, so it is a bit churlish for me to complain. But let me follow the Good Times — that is, the Washington Times, and question how he is planning to cover the enormous carbon footprint that his use of private jets accounts for.
Sanders, as with all the other Democrats seeking to unseat President Donald Trump, says the planet is just about out of time to get rid of noxious emissions that are bringing on global warming at a frightening rate. As Sen. Elizabeth Warren told National Public Radio's agog listeners: "The urgency of the moment on climate change cannot be overstated. It's upon us and we need to make change and make change fast. And that means in part rebuilding our power grids, our infrastructure system. We need to harden against the coming storms. Underpasses and overpasses and bridges. We need a 21st-century infrastructure that accounts for coming changes in climate, and we need it fast." Former congressman — now full-time candidate for the presidency — Beto O'Rourke gives us 12 years.
So what is Sanders' answer, given the enormous carbon footprint created by his use of private jets, to say nothing of his three homes? Well, his spokesman told the Times, "Bernie Sanders is a champion in the fight for climate justice and, like him, we know we need to address our emissions through action, not just rhetoric." Sanders is going to offset the pollution being emitted from his private jets by paying "carbon offsets" from them to companies such as Climate Trust and Native Energy.
Yet there is a problem here. Toting up all the carbon emissions can be burdensome. Moreover, carbon offsets are not very sexy vote-getters, not for the kind of people who vote for Sanders. He needs something imaginative, something realistic, something that no one has dared to offer before. Think big, Bernie.
I have the Big Idea for solving your campaign's transportation needs. It will save you a huge amount of money. It will aid an ailing government industry — and there are so many. It will show that you are serious about doing something to end government deficits. Bernie, let me give you some advice. Mothball those private jets that have your critics nagging, and conduct all your travel henceforth on Amtrak. You can ride first class, where the drinks are on the house, and your entire traveling staff can travel with you in business class. Some of the more contemplative staff members can ride in the Quiet Car. I will bet a lot of Bernie voters already ride in the Quite Car. Certainly, there are a lot of passengers in the Quiet Car who lean toward you. Actually, I myself ride in the Quiet Car, for I enjoy the scene when a fight breaks out because of some oaf's telephone going off, or a passenger's chomping down too loudly on his comestibles, as we say in the Quiet Car. It is called food in the other cars.
By conducting your campaign via Amtrak, you will not have to limit your travel because of cyclones or blizzards. Who ever heard of an Amtrak train being grounded by inclement weather? Nor will your travel be limited by geography. Check the Amtrak schedule. The system stops in all the major cities, and you do not want to go to those rural stops anyway. Hillary Clinton was on to something when she spoke of "deplorables." It was not wise for her to say it, but the truth is that your kind of voters is in the big cities. Those are socialist strongholds, even Sybaritic socialist strongholds.
Now, if you still insist on air travel and you want to keep your carbon footprint small, I still can be helpful. Have you ever considered a zeppelin? They are very quiet.
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the author, most recently, of "The Death of Liberalism," published by Thomas Nelson, Inc. To find out more about R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.