The corporate conservatives who control the Democratic Party are suffering from cheaters' remorse.
The DNC and its media allies (NPR, CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Vox, etc.) subverted the will of primary voters, undermining initial front-runner Sen. Bernie Sanders in order to install the worst candidate of the 20 centrists in the campaign.
Now the power brokers are worried that the befuddled Joe Biden, whom they touted as the Most Electable Against Donald Trump, will lose to him. Rather than take responsibility for their idiocy and force Biden to pull out of a race for which he is obviously physically and mentally unprepared, the corporatist sellouts are preemptively blaming the progressives who warned them about this exact scenario.
Sorry, right-wingers. Biden is on you. You made him the presumptive nominee. If Trump wins again, it's your fault.
Just as it was last time.
Establishment panic over Biden is most palpable in the pages of the official party organ of the Democratic Party, The Times. "While he has held consistent leads in most national and swing-state polls, they have not been altogether comfortable one," the paper noted on May 15.
If Biden is to squeak by Trump in November, he requires a comfortable lead now. "A CNN poll released on May 13 found Biden leading the president by 5 percentage points nationwide but trailing by 7 points among voters in crucial battleground states. For some Democrats, the results of the poll again raised the specter that Biden could win the popular vote but lose the Electoral College, as Hillary Clinton and Al Gore both did."
Historically, in May of a presidential election year, Democrats need a lead of at least 10 points over their Republican rival in order to prevail in a general election. Republicans always close the gap during the last six months of a presidential race.
The Times is pushing Biden's candidacy via two lines of argument. First, lesser-evilism. As columnist Frank Bruni wrote May 17, he'll "take Biden's confusion over Trump's corruption." (Of course, Biden is corrupt, too.) Second, The Times claims, Biden should be acceptable. He isn't Hillary Clinton. Due to the coronavirus crisis, Bidenites say, their man is willing to pivot to the left. (Never mind that progressive programs need to be in place before a crisis, not ramping up a year after it begins.)
The second argument is the easiest to shoot down. Biden has a decadeslong track record of voting and governing to the right, including voting to invade Iraq for no good reason. Even now, as tens of millions of Americans lose their jobs and thus their health insurance, Biden refuses to join the rest of the industrialized world by endorsing single-payer health care. Progressives don't trust Biden. They trust history. History proves Biden isn't one of them.
Bruni's argument involves magical thinking, too. "At the end of the day, Biden can be trusted to do what Trump didn't and won't: stock his administration with qualified professionals. He could compensate for any supposed cognitive deficit with a surplus of talent," Bruni says. There is no evidence, none, zero, zip, that this is true. Biden could validate that argument by announcing his Cabinet nominations now. But he's not.
Biden leaves progressive voters cold. That matters because the enthusiasm gap could decide the election. If anything, the enthusiasm gap might widen as billions of dollars of stimulus payment letters bearing Trump's signature hit voters' bank accounts and he wraps himself in the trappings of the presidency while Biden sits in his basement trying to figure out how to use his computer camera. If I were Trump, I'd be planning my second term.
Let's not forget how we got here.
When Sanders announced he was running again, Democratic-aligned media outlets said he was too old. Then, when Sanders emerged as front-runner for the nomination, corporate media presented him as an existential threat. Head-to-head polls showed he was at least as electable as his rivals, yet "journalistic" organizations stated, without evidence, that a left-wing Democrat couldn't beat Trump.
CNN even compared Sanders to the coronavirus.
Remember all those "Can Obama Be Stopped?" headlines from the 2008 primaries? Me neither. When it came to Bernie, pseudo-liberal media didn't pretend to be objective.
The DNC went after him like crazy.
Sanders won the key Iowa caucus, but Democratic vote-counting chicanery cheated him out of the PR for his win. Party insiders believe that former President Barack Obama personally arranged for former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, Klobuchar and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg to endorse Biden the day before Super Tuesday. Speaking of which, Sanders won California, the biggest state — but the vote count mysteriously took days, denying him a big headline and an accurately optimistic delegate count in media coverage.
They're still at it. At this writing, party leaders are trying to prevent an embarrassing protest vote against Joe Biden in New York by fighting in court for the right to delete Sanders from the state's mail-in primary ballots.
A Times headline from Feb. 20 proved prescient: "Democratic Leaders Willing to Risk Party Damage to Stop Bernie Sanders."
They got what they wanted.
Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of the biography "Bernie." You can support Ted's hard-hitting political cartoons and columns by sponsoring his work on Patreon. To find out more about Ted Rall and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.