Pro-Bernie Senator delivers last-gasp unity demands ... and then endorses Hillary

Thank goodness that Sen. Jeff Merkley appeared on CNN’s New Day to reveal what “the Bernie wing” wants in exchange for unity … one day after it mattered. Less than 24 hours earlier, Bernie Sanders all but ran up the white flag after meeting with Barack Obama, pledging only to campaign in the Washington DC primary on Tuesday, and then focus on beating Donald Trump. Unless the Bernie wing plans to take flight for the Greens, there’s not many options for beating Donald Trump other than getting behind Hillary Clinton.

So what is the secret formula for taking this broken wing and learning to fly with it? According to Merkley, it’s basically replacing Hillary’s positions with Bernie’s. Good luck, Senator (via The Hill):

“They’re looking for the big ideas that he advocated for in his campaign to be fully embraced, to be woven into the conversation at the convention,” Merkley said on CNN’s “New Day” Friday.

Merkley cited a number of issues, including pivoting away from fossil fuels, making college more affordable, creating more jobs and keeping money out of politics, that he believes Sanders supporters want to see addressed.

“These are the core pieces of the puzzle we hope can be fully articulated and that will be both great policy and great politics,” said Merkley, the first senator to back Sanders’s presidential campaign.

For the most part, these are Democratic Party hobby-horses anyway, so Hillary can be relied upon to give them lip service at the very least. Maybe that’ll be enough to keep the Bernie wing from taking flight, but it hasn’t been enough thus far to convince them to let Sanders go back to his usual status of back-bencher crank within the Democratic caucus. How tough will the Bernie wing hang in for something more? As tough as Merkley will be:

“Certainly, I’m going to be supporting our nominee and our nominee is Secretary Clinton,” Merkely told CNN.

Maybe someone at CNN should have rethought that chyron, eh? So much for hanging tough for the Bernie wing. As Politico reports today, the primaries are over — and even Sanders has realized it:

The courtship letters his campaign had planned to send superdelegates have been put on hold. His go-to argument — that he polls better against Donald Trump than Clinton — has been scrubbed from his public statements. There are mass staff departures, and his digital firm set up a new site to help laid off staffers find their next gig.

Even his Senate relationship rebuilding effort has begun.

It’s a swift denouement for a campaign that had been bleeding money and staff for weeks, hastened by the surprising margin of Sanders’ loss in California on Tuesday night — which his aides hadn’t anticipated partly because they stopped polling in California days earlier due to the cost.

With that in mind, Merkley’s plea here looks more like the final nihilist scene in The Big Lebowski, when they set the car on fire and demand the money — even though everyone knows they never had Bunny at all. “Without a hostage, there is no ransom,” Walter explains. The Bernie wing is about to learn that lesson. Now they just have to decide whether they’ll tie the room together in Philadelphia.