A leftover from yesterday via the The Hill. The Bernie personality cult will slaughter Todd for this, although I dare say you might hear a rival Democratic candidate or two echo the point on the trail if he ends up running.
If Todd’s guilty of anything, it’s of going a bit easy on Sanders. Bernie’s answer when he was asked whether he was in the dark about the harassment allegations in 2016 — “Yes, I was a little bit busy running around the country trying to make the case” — doesn’t prove that he’s a bad manager. But it was glib and defensive, and smelled of moral relativism. What’s a better use of his time, focusing 100 percent on leading the glorious progressive revolution or making sure his staffers don’t get sexually assaulted? Don’t bother a busy man with these personal trifles when he’s working hard to secure Medicare for all. Somewhere Bill Clinton, Harvey Weinstein, and the rest of America’s woke sexual offenders are nodding.
Here’s Politico’s report on the scandal involving Robert Becker, who led the campaign for Sanders on the floor at the convention. This wasn’t a case of a guy pestering a co-worker for a date a little too insistently. This was Becker allegedly telling a colleague flat out that he wanted to do the deed with her. Then, later, he “approached the woman and grabbed her wrists. Then he moved his hands to her head and forcibly kissed her, putting his tongue in her mouth as he held her, the woman and other sources said.” That’s not the only story from the campaign either. Yesterday the Intercept published the account of Giulianna Di Lauro Velez, one of the women who spoke to the NYT for its own expose last week of sexual misconduct within Bernie 2016. Sanders has now issued multiple apologies to try to tamp down the flames, which have been burning for eight days. “I will not be weaponized” wrote Velez in her Intercept piece — but she will be, by Sanders’s competition if and when he gets into the race. It’s hard to imagine a progressive field featuring formidable women candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris letting Bernie skate on this.
Although they’ll have to be careful. Berniebro progressives might be willing to support a rival if they became convinced that doing so would advance The Cause, but Sanders is extremely well-liked — the most popular senator in the country among his constituents according to a 50-state poll by Morning Consult. The left will always love him for challenging Hillary when Warren proved too timid, and if a left-wing populist wins the presidency in 2020 it’s Bernie 2016 that’ll be credited with having blazed the trail and moved the Overton window. They’re not going to let his character be destroyed. That’s why Warren and Harris might be forced to resort to the Todd criticism here, however feeble it may be. We’re not saying he’s callous about sexual harassment, they’ll say, we’re merely questioning his management skills. Maybe Bernie fans will tolerate that. Maybe. Or maybe Warren and Harris will lay off entirely, fearing that to attack him first will lead to Bernie giving his highly prized endorsement to the other candidate as revenge.
Speaking of 2020, it was announced today that Beto! is doing a splashy interview with Oprah on February 5, right around the time presidential candidates will begin announcing their campaigns. That’s a smart play, and not just because anything Oprah-related comes with tons of media exposure. If O’Rourke is running, he’ll need a way to compete with Harris and Cory Booker for black voters. Oprah’s obviously not going to endorse him in their interview but giving him a big platform like that at the start of the race is a type of endorsement, a way of saying, “This is a candidate worth your consideration.” Maybe this will help O’Rourke get a foot in the door with black Democrats.