Which part of President Bernie Sanders does Robert Menendez not embrace? Is it the nostalgia for Fidel Castro, the communist China shout-outs, the fantasy budgeting, or maybe the creepy parenting advice? Mainly it’s the Fidel nostalgia for this Senate Democrat and Cuban-American, but Menendez didn’t sound picky about it when speaking with CNN’s Manu Raju earlier today:
Menendez added of Sanders: “So it's just not what I would want to see in the person who would be the leader of the free world.”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 25, 2020
Menendez was more explicit about his objections to Sanders yesterday when speaking to reporters at a construction site in Hudson County, New Jersey. “I’m sure that the hundreds who died in Castro’s jails,” Menendez said, “the millions who came to the United States and other fleeing elsewhere, and those who are still languishing in Castro’s jails simply because they seek to speak their mind as we are free to do in the United States do not find anything in that regime other than it was a tyrannical regime”:
“I don’t understand how you can praise any of that,” Menendez continued, wondering what it means to have Sanders “applauding dictatorships [and] authoritarian regimes” that deny basic civil rights to their subjects. “I certainly think it’s wrong for the person who would be the leader of the free world.”
The Washington Post might be wondering about the same thing. In a profile published last night, Griff Witte recapped Sanders’ decades-long flacking for communists and Leftist dictatorships and noted it has now become a “problem” for Sanders. The lead makes it sound less like an issue of nuance, however, and more like the profile of what old-school Communists called a “useful idiot”:
The mayor of tiny Burlington, Vt., was back from Nicaragua and eager to share the good news.
The country’s Soviet-backed government — forged via armed rebellion — was cutting infant mortality, reducing illiteracy and redistributing land to peasant farmers. Its Sandinista leaders, branded terrorists by the U.S. government, impressed him with “their intelligence and their sincerity.”
Three years later, Bernie Sanders was fresh off the plane from Moscow, reveling in the beauty of the land and the contentedness of the people.
And a year after that, he returned from Cuba having tapped into a revolutionary spirit “far deeper and more profound than I understood it to be.”
Once one gets past the “rivals pouncing” portion, we find out that they have good reason to do so. Sanders’ track record is not one of a European-style Social Democrat as he now claims, but one of a committed radical Leftist who pushed every revolution he could find:
Sanders has promised to remake the party in his far-left image as a “democratic socialist,” and he argues that his vision for a political revolution is best exemplified by thriving democratic, first-world societies like Denmark.
Yet in the 1980s, during the dying days of the Cold War, Sanders indulged a fascination with far more disruptive and divisive strains of a socialist ideology he has embraced throughout his adult life.
Witte notes that plenty of material exists in media vaults, as Sanders was hardly shy about sharing these thoughts. However, very few people seemed interested in digging these up, even during Sanders’ high-profile presidential run in 2016. Give Witte and the Washington Post at least a little credit of getting out ahead of the curve, but this is an indictment of a national media that obsessed over every last detail of the private lives of Republican figures like Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, but have not even bothered to curate their own archives on Democrats like Sanders.
Bernie’s not the only useful idiot in this cycle.