Obama Privately Considered Leading ‘Stop-Bernie Campaign’ to Combat Sanders 2020 Surge: Report

By Jake Johnson, staff writer at Common Dreams. Originally published at Common Dreams

Former President Barack Obama reportedly told advisers behind closed doors earlier this year that he would actively oppose Sen. Bernie Sanders if the progressive senator from Vermont opened up a big lead in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race.

“Publicly, [Obama] has been clear that he won’t intervene in the primary for or against a candidate,” Politico reported Tuesday. “There is one potential exception: Back when Sanders seemed like more of a threat than he does now, Obama said privately that if Bernie were running away with the nomination, Obama would speak up to stop him.”

“Obama’s post-presidency is grating and full of contradictions. He considers himself a success but the mere fact of Trump’s presidency belies this. He won on hope and counsels hopelessness.”
—David Klion, Jewish Currents

Progressives viewed Obama’s comments as further evidence that the former president, who was elected in 2008 on the soaring promise of “hope and change,” is now using his influence on the Democratic Party to undercut the grassroots push for transformational policies like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.

“Obama’s post-presidency is grating and full of contradictions,” tweeted David Klion, news editor at Jewish Currents. “He considers himself the leader of the party but refuses to lead. He considers himself a success but the mere fact of Trump’s presidency belies this. He won on hope and counsels hopelessness.”

One anonymous Obama adviser would not confirm to Politico that Obama “would really lay himself on the line to prevent a Sanders nomination.”

“He hasn’t said that directly to me,” the adviser said. “The only reason I’m hesitating at all is because, yeah, if Bernie were running away with it, I think maybe we would all have to say something. But I don’t think that’s likely. It’s not happening.”

According to Politico, Obama plans to speak out more frequently about the state of U.S. politics in the coming weeks. Earlier this month, Obama told a roomful of rich donors that he is worried about “certain left-leaning Twitter feeds” and “the activist wing of our party,” sparking outrage from progressives.

“Over the next year, Obama, according to his closest advisers, will start to emerge with slightly bolder colors,” Politico reported Tuesday. “The boldest might be riding into a battle unfolding on his own side, if he did lead a potential stop-Bernie campaign.”

Obama advisers told Politico they don’t believe Sanders has a chance to win the Democratic presidential nomination. But recent polling suggests the Vermont senator is experiencing what his campaign described as a “surge.”

A Morning Consult tracking poll released Monday showed Sanders has gained nine points in early primary and caucus states since October. Sanders has also jumped back into second place behind former Vice President Joe Biden in Real Clear Politics‘ national polling average.

Obama’s position on Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, has also been antagonistic, according to Politico.

“Back in early 2015, when Warren was considering running for president and started to excite progressives, Obama said privately that if Democrats rallied around her as their nominee it would be a repudiation of him—a clear sign that his economic decisions after the Great Recession had been seen as inadequate,” Politico reported. “There are very few former senior Obama officials in Warren’s campaign.”

David Dayen, executive editor for The American Prospect, wrote last week that Obama’s attacks on the progressive wing of the Democratic Party “are music to the ears of the wealthy and powerful.”

“This defense of the reigning economic order, originating with the donor class and media allies, with its effective abandonment of the vulnerable and disenfranchised, with nothing for those struggling to make it in a rigged economy, is a recipe for social and political unrest,” Dayen wrote. “From lofty heights, Obama has now become a dampener of hope, a barrier to change, and a threat to progress.”

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  1. John A

    No surprise at all. Blair and his cronies have been doing their utmost similarly and openly to undermine Corbyn for years. Their own rice bowls are threatened.

    1. Matthew G. Saroff

      After putting the hapless Tom Perez in charge of the DNC because “Progressives are icki”, this is no surprise.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        sometimes i think the centrist democrats hate the left more than the republicans do; perhaps on account of the fact that they actually *know* leftists as opposed to being told by blonde women on Fox News that Nancy Pelosi is one of them (or, more absurdly, the ringleader).

        it always startles a republican when i tell them “I hate Nancy Pelosi way more than you do” and then prove it to them with the receipts.

        1. NJ

          I think you’re on to something here.

          Perhaps the centrist Democrats know that if a credible left wing was taken seriously by a majority of voters, a danger would arise that their own compromise positions would be revealed as the damp squibs they are. After all, would anyone who seriously wants change vote for appeasement and half hearted attempts at reform through compromise?

  2. PlutoniumKun

    I would love it if Obama did just that. It would be very clarifying and I actually think it could help Sanders a lot by creating a clear unambiguous line between real and false progressives, and the 10%ers and the rest of us.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Well put. Which is perhaps why Obama is holding back. But then the longer he holds back, the sharper the relief will be if he suddenly changes course.

      It will also be interesting because the MSM will respond as they always do with the same synchronicity as a choral group to the conductor. It’s odd that people don’t notice more how strange the exactness of the MSM timing is as well as the fact they use the exact same phrases and arguments, word for word, in their coverage.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        If Obama did that in public open view, would Clinton be doing it too? Would they swallow their mutual distaste and do it together in public open view?

        And if they did that, how much Black support could they destroy or divert away from Sanders? It would be an interesting ethno-racial political science experiment to see performed.

      2. Synoia

        Obama’s post-presidency is grating and full of contradictions…He considers himself the leader of the party but refuses to lead.

        Appears to be leading from behind, as he did for his presidency.

    2. cocomaan

      He wouldn’t be that brave. His entire presidency was economic subterfuge, spying, and chickenhawk BS. And then publicly he whined about mean republicans. Obama will go down in history as a really weak president but will continue to receive hagiographies for another few years.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        “Obama will go down in history as a really weak president”

        I know many who consider him the most successful republican president since Bill Clinton.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        If he is allowed to go down in history as a “weak president”, then he will have gotten away with the con game reputationally as well as materially We can’t do anything about the material success of his long con, but we can try to deny him the reputational success as well.

        He was a strong president and very successful at achieving what his agenda really truly always was.

      3. Barbara

        If you read some of the Bernie sites with relatively short posts, i.e. Reddit, you will see that the age group is majorly, 35 and under. There are older, but it’s mostly younger. And they are angry. They scour the news from all over and they’re on every false step any politician takes. They even criticize Bernie occasionally. (Well, the criticism takes the form of… Why did Bernie do this? or I wish Bernie would…).

        I do not see Bernie supporters going away. They have equally strong feelings about electing progressives to congress, the Senate and locally. It’s like they’re copying the old Republican playbook: first they came for the school board, then they came for the town council, then they came …

        Obama knows he wasn’t what he claimed he was. If he get’s too bold about it, the kids will remind him. My anxious question is – is there anybody stronger than Obama behind Obama?

    3. JohnnyGL

      Be careful what you wish for.

      If obama drops an endorsement of biden, biden will spike 10 points in the polls and likely cruise to the nomination after running the table on super tuesday.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        If Obama endorsed Biden, it would only damage the other corporate candidates. No Sanders, Gabbard or Yang supporter would be impressed. It would make it Biden vs those three. And since Biden is awful, that would only be to their advantage, just as it helped Sanders the last time that he only had to face HRC.

        1. jrs

          No that doesn’t add up, if he were to get enough of say even Buttigieg of Warren voters, the nomination might well be Biden’s. Yang is probably running to run a talk show, he seems a nice enough guy though, with good sympathies. It only might possibly be a plus if Gabbard and Yang dropped out (they are less than 10% combined) and strongly endorse Sanders.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          If Obama endorsed Biden, Biden would get millions more Black raycyst Obama-fan votes than what he is already going to get.

      2. ptb

        he won’t because he doesn’t want the possibility of picking a nominee who might lose the GE.

        If he takes down Sanders, and Warren or Buttigieg get nominated and proceed to lose badly, it becomes his fault.

        If he endorses Biden early and Biden gets nominated, keeps spacing out on live TV over the next 11 months and loses the GE, it’s even worse for Obama because he will lose the respect of a lot of black people because although “electable”, Biden is easily the worst primary candidate on race, if you consider all the evil legislation he championed.

        1. Big River Bandido

          Biden is easily the worst primary candidate on race, if you consider all the evil legislation he championed.

          Mayo Pete is pretty much in the same category. The two men display exactly the same kinds of racial insensitivities, elitism, and tone-deafness. Mayo Pete’s executive “leadership” has been every bit as racist as Joe Biden’s tenure in the Senate.

      3. Otis B Driftwood

        If Biden wins the nomination, he will lose the general election. It will be 2016 all over again.

        1. Michael Fiorillo

          I think Trump would destroy Biden, and it would likely be worse than 2016, with him having a shot at winning the popular as well as the electoral college vote.

          Unlike many Bernie supporters, who are convinced Sanders could defeat Trump, I’m not so sure: the red and Jew baiting would be off the charts, to say nothing of #McResistance TM betrayals (since Bernie scares these people far more than Trump). However, I also think he’s the only one of the candidates that has a chance of beating him; the others seems almost tailor-made to suffer paralysis and then disintegration under Trump’s insults, innuendo and factual references to their past.

          1. emptyfull

            I love Bernie, but I’m in Warren’s camp mostly because I think the MIC establishment will do anything to stop him. Just look at what Britain’s MIC is doing to Corbyn. Some people are too ethical and consistent to see the secrets of the empire. I think Liz’s equivocations on foreign policy are in part a signal that she won’t focus on exposing all the ugly of the past 20 years in the CIA, etc. Bernie, otoh… Having Wall St. and the media passionately against you (as both Warren and Sanders will should they get the nom) is a lot. But throw in the MIC trying to preserve itself and I think you’ll see blatant vote-fixing.

            I know most of y’all won’t agree, but that’s where I’m at.

        2. JohnnyGL

          That is almost definitely correct.

          The craziest part is that black voter turnout will be the thing that sinks biden.

          The split in the black electorate is only a more pronounced version of the schizophrenia in the larger democratic base.

          Conservative black southerners won’t budge from biden.

          Black voters in Detroit and Milwaukee will sink him in the general.

          1. richard

            that sounds plausible
            if biden gets the nod that is
            which won’t happen i keep saying to myself
            because our lords and masters know he is super weak and can’t beat trump
            but then, of course
            everything turns on our lords and masters wanting to beat trump

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              which They.Do.Not.Want.To.Do

              Why change Nirvana? It’s the best of all possible worlds, you get a free pass to Do.Nothing because you are so busy with hearsay “testimony”, Cold War hero worship, procedural complexity, and daily press “bombshells” in what hs been billed as The Cage Match of the Century. It’s virtually impossible for the plebes to figure out that you are Doing.Absolutely.Nothing.Whatsoever.For.Them.

              Meantime, ka-ching.

            2. appalachiacat

              But our lords and masters (and centrists) wish to preserve trump so that he will be an available alternative if Bernie or Liz win the nomination.

            3. drumlin woodchuckles

              Our putative Lords-and-Masters wannabes don’t care about beating Trump. They care about beating Sanders and Gabbard. They have already decided that a Trump Term Two is an acceptable price to pay for keeping Sanders and/or Gabbard off the ticket.

        3. Big River Bandido

          I think this applies to all the candidates Not Named Bernie Sanders. It’s the one certainty in my mind that has made this primary season entertaining thus far.

      4. JEHR

        Obama endorsed our PM who scraped into power recently with a minority. What would Obama have thought if the roles were reversed when he was running! These guys should stay in their own backyards.

    4. Vegetius

      I would like to see this, too.

      But I don’t think it will be very clarifying to anyone over 30 years old, least of all the identity progs.

      The doublethink that is the linchpin of their worldview can easily accommodate such a move, probably by fixating on Bern’s ‘white privilege’ and Russia connections.

    5. Tomonthebeach

      Nobody ever seems to bring up the Obama estate on Martha’s Vinyard – bought and paid for by a grateful Wall Street in post-presidential emoluments for their Federal bailout. Not bad for a less than 1-term senator whose job before that was “community organizer.” What is the salary of the POTUS again? $400K/year?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        That Blue no matter what only applies to the “left”.

        Bloomberg, Angus King, and Joe Lieberman were beloved by Democratic insiders. They recruited pricks like Charlie Christ when he realized he couldn’t go further in the GOP. Arlen Specter. Yikes! Obama like the Republicans he lusts after so openly is immune to charges of hypocrisy. He simply doesn’t care.

    6. mtnwoman

      I don’t know.
      Too many of the Dem base are too, shall we say, ‘uninformed’ re their own best interests and might heed Obama’s attack on Bernie.

  3. David

    Obama, Clinton and, by default, Biden are pushing hard to become known as the biggest impediments to progress. For Obama, his hope campaign ended early in his Presidency. Warren is a gift to the wealthy and reeks of hopium. They are overplaying their hand. I have no doubt a large majority of Sanders voters will not vote for another installed nominee. We choose our representatives in this Republic, not an oligarchy.

    If this is a trial balloon by the wealthy benefactors of D, Inc., bad idea.

  4. kimyo

    to even stand a ghost of a chance, bernie must now take his gloves off and fight tooth and nail for his supporters. no more coin tosses, no more kowtowing to the dnc, if he is serious, he must go for the jugular.

    a nice place to start would be with the clinton foundation. also he needs to drop russiagate and share the v.i.p.s. findings that the dnc email leak was an inside job and not a hack. if he speaks the truth, his supporters will revel, they will fight for him like no other.

    only he (or maybe gabbard) can beat trump. but first, he has to face reality. the dnc is his mortal enemy. he doesn’t seem to realize this.

      1. Vegetius


        But has he given any indication that he has developed this facility in the past three years? If so, I have not seen it.

    1. Big River Bandido

      I don’t this is necessary or wise.

      Winning a party primary is always a calculated exercise. Drawing clear distinctions is important, yes…but if in so doing, one alienates the supporters of one’s opponents…then the GE game is toast. This was Clinton’s biggest FAIL. She went around insulting leftists, Sanders supporters, and one voting bloc after another — as though it never occurred to her that she couldn’t win a general election without those very same voters.

      Like it or not, independent coalition or not — in the general election, Sanders WILL need to have some votes from “liberals”. He won’t need them all — he may not even need a majority if he can bring enough independents into the process — but he can’t afford to alienate Democrat partisans.

      I’m sure this is why Sanders is so careful to hold his fire and not directly attack the personalities in charge of the party.

      1. bassmule

        I’m picturing a Venn diagram with “Liberals” and “Never Trumpers.” There must be some overlap? No? Won’t “Never Trumpers” vote for Bernie? He’s definitely Not Trump.

        1. John k

          Dem oligarchs will vote for trump if dem nominee is Bernie… as will their well paid supporters. The calc will be, will my tax go up to pass m4a? What is the financial benefit to me of m4a?
          And gnd, roo. Bernie aims to gore lots of cows.
          Rich and powerful dems have done very well under trump… will vote their wallets no matter how never trump they are.
          Maybe 1/10 of dems?
          But for every one of these he loses, he picks up two poor reps.

          1. Oh

            More USAians vote their wallets than their values. Most of the time it’s the perception that their wallets will be hit that drives this. Bernays sauce is very tasty to them.

    2. BCD

      Bernie has to win a primary of Dems where the majority currently believes the CrowdStrike report despite how right or wrong you or NC may think it is.

      I agree the Sanders campaign needs to find a way to be more aggressive (without appearing angry) although IMHO it’ll be a sad day if v.i.p.s. is the cross his campaign dies on! The editors note attached to the original The Nation v.i.p.s. story is worth reading and should give pause.

      There is no shortage of good analysis and criticism of v.i.p.s including other parts of vips and the Nation’s outside researcher referenced in the note. Evidence presented by v.i.p.s. simply does not support claims made. CrowdStrike’s report leaves a lot to be desired but v.i.p.s manages to produce even less evidence supporting its conclusions.

      1. CarlH

        I just read those two editor notes and did not find anything to color my views on them, let alone any of the assertions you reference above. They got a date wrong by one day, acknowledged the mistake and fixed it. The other note just says The Intelligence Agencies say… Please back up your assertions made about v.i.p.s.

        1. BCD

          My point was vips may not be as definitively conniving to Sanders supporters as the OP claimed, the NC commentariat is another story. Bernie is focused on winning the Dem primary where the attribution of APT28 and 29 as Russia has been more convincing to Dems than vips + The Forensicator.

          From this link:

          “All parties, however, must exercise much greater care in separating out statements backed by available digital metadata from thoughtful insights and educated guesses. Walking nontechnical readers down any narrative path that cannot be directly supported by evidence must be avoided. At this point, given the limited available data, certainty about only a very small number of things can be achieved”

          “Otherwise, there are no logs available that would provide an audit trail of network or system activity. There is no public copy of malicious software found on a targeted system that can be decompiled, reverse engineered, and analyzed. There is no information about where or how the extracted files were stored, what the operating systems involved were, or what the local, co-located, or hosted network configuration and speed might have been.”

          Freitas mostly went after the transfer speed analysis where the meat is in section “Many Ways to 23 Megabytes per Second”.

          For instance:
          The RAT would utilize the authenticated user it compromised to invisibly access the files over the local area network, copy them in bulk to the local machine at 23 megabytes per second, and package them into an archive for remote transfer. The metadata matching the Forensicator’s analysis would have been fully generated at this point. The final copy to the remote adversary’s source machine could happen at any speed.

          Freitas didn’t go into detail purposefully speaking to a nontechnical audience, there are other sources of more detailed point by point analysis of vips making similar points. Who is The Forensicator? Will Dems voting in the primary believe an anonymous internet influencer backed by non-security SME’s like Binney over industry recognized professionals like Freitas putting their name and reputation on the line?

    3. level

      Only…Gabbard can beat Trump. Sounds like you think Obama was right: need to nominate a republican to beat a republican.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        Gabbard doesn’t think she’ll win her (D) house primary but she’ll beat Trump.
        I am anti-war too, but come on…

    4. notabanker

      Terrible strategy here. He is running as a Democrat and signed a pledge to uphold their platform as a nominee. If he goes to war with the DNC now, they’ll have the justification they need to drop him from the primary. His fight will be at the convention, and he needs to win big in the primaries just to have it.

  5. voteforno6

    This demonstrates just how much contempt Obama has for people. He considered speaking out only if Sanders was running away with the nomination; essentially, only if Sanders was overwhelmingly popular. I’ve always had the opinion that Obama has quite a large ego, even judged by the standards of other people with Presidential-sized egos.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      From Obama’s legacy perspective, anyone outside a segregationist and the Republicans running will be demonstrably better than Obama on day 1 while Obama busies himself with wrecking a park.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I think the only reason he didn’t trash Hillary was he knew she would be f up and would make him look good immediately.

  6. Ignacio

    The DCCC establishment will use all their weapons including treachery… humm i think I have borrowed the idea somewhere…

  7. pespi

    What will the venal narcissist do next?

    It sounds like a bluff, because it would make his “legacy” look even worse. It sounds like woofing to his rich friends. Grandstanding at the fraternal order of oppressors

  8. The Rev Kev

    This should not come as a surprise this. By now only the most deluded still think of him as a champion of progressive politics. But the signs were all there of what he was all about. Who here can forget his “I’ll Be There” speech?

    “Then I’ll be all aroun’ in the dark. I’ll be ever’where — wherever you look. Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there (putting the boot in). Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there (coordinating it with Homeland Security). If Hillary knowed, why, I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’ — I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry an’ they know supper’s ready (trying to cancel their SNAP payments). An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build — why, I’ll be there (making sure that the banks get to take their homes off them). See? God, I’m talkin’ like Hillary. Comes of thinkin’ about her so much. Seems like I can see her sometimes.”

        1. John A

          Yes, me too. Not read Grapes of Wrath for a long time, but it immediately came back to me. I suspect Steinbeck’s ‘Oakie’ fruit pickers in California were the Amazon workers of their day.

          1. Fred1

            The Ghost of Tom Joad by Rage against the Machine.

            Sorry I can’t imbed a link to the song. Beyond my skill.

  9. divadab

    Just a flipping salesman for the imperial oligarchy. And I caucused for this fraud.

    GO BERNIE! He’s not in it for the money like BS Barry.

  10. flora

    The traditional role of former presidents is to retire from the public political scene and let the party move forward with the new or the next, whatever that might be. I wish Bill, Hill, and Barry would stfu. They’re making W, who retired from public political life, look like a statesman, and that’s saying something.

  11. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, J-LS.

    It’s not a problem if Barry comes out swinging against Bernie. Bring it on, I say. The left should take a leaf from the right’s playbook and call Barry an anti-Semite.

    Also, the photos published by the Daily Mail showing the Obama girls enjoying champagne in Verbier last winter can be used as a Marie-Antoinette moment, too. Same with Barry with Richard Branson in the Caribbean early this year.

    The left should not be scared of these people and should relish the opportunity to hit back and with interest.

    1. Ignacio

      Hahaha, I like it. If only that the left does not own big media. But whatsapp memes circulate much faster.

      [Today I have made a search web with Gibiru and surprise!, a Water Cooler link appeared in third position!]

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      It’s just a shame that THE critical battle is still Dem vs Dem at this stage, that sh*t should have been completely sorted after the 2016 dumpster fire. Hilary unwilling to face the crowd on the night of her defeat was THE signal to the entire party: put fingers in both ears and just scream LA LA LA THE RUSSIANS LA LA LA THE CAUSE WAS ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING BUT MEEEEEEEEEEEEE

    3. norm de plume

      Not sure the charge of antisemitism would stick with Obama given he took his riding instructions from Rubin and Summers, his fondness for Rahm and his history with the Pritzkers. Plus, that would be descending to their level!

      One thing is sure though; it is a reversal of historical tropes and archetypes to see the Jew representing the common man and the black man protecting the bankers.

      Interested to know what you think would be the best strategy for Corbyn in response to the now official charge of antisemitism made by the Chief Rabbi, and the comment that Corbyn is unfit for high office. To me this intervention is as shocking as that General muttering last year about the army taking action if Corbyn was elected and the recent news that intel officials would not share information with Corbyn.

      Those musings, if they were acted upon, would amount to treason and should be called by their proper name. As for the Rabbi, Corbyn ought to use the extreme nature of this attack to encourage a public split of Jewish opinion. Surely there cannot be a majority of British Jews who believe this trumped up and carefully orchestrated BS (even worse than Russiagate). Surely there cannot be majority of British Jews who agree with this nakedly right-wing position, which ultimately benefits a continuation of the neoliberal US-led ascendancy. The Rabbis comments don’t appear to have too much to do with what is good for Britain generally, and seem, given the spurious and implausible nature of the claims, rather self (or group) centred.

      It just seems there are obvious and potentially upside avenues for righteous counter-attack, but perhaps ‘advisers’ and ‘pollsters’ have warned of the possible blowback from poking that particular part of the nation’s political and social anatomy.

      What would be great – Bernie taking a break from campaigning and flying in to London to give a series of doorstops and speeches denouncing the Rabbi and his charges in that Brooklyn bark of his, and calling for British Jews to rise up against the cabal of extremists who have hijacked their representation in the UK. Pics of him beaming as he hugs his ‘political soul mate’ Corbyn, who might perhaps manage one of his wan smiles.

    4. Felix_47

      Being raised in the south one can see the anti Semitism of many conservative blacks. The whites owned the land and the Jews ran the stores and pawnshops. The southern blacks had more in common in terms of prejudice with the white sharecroppers than the Jews. They take the Bible literally at least in those days in rural Miss. With the massive Hispanic migration over the last 30 years things may have changed… I hope so since Sanders is our best choice and we are lucky to have him running for the right reasons as opposed to the careerists.

      1. JohnnyGL

        That’s odd. Not sure why he did that. He was pointing out Biden still has a solid core of support among older black voters and conservative working class (often unionized) whites.

        1. WJ

          I would not be surprised to learn that the polls are being somehow designed to ensure that Biden always comes out ahead, with the result that his *actual* levels of support among both older black voters and working class whites are more or less unknown. They *may* be as high as reported, but likely are not. I suspect that Stoller also came to recognize as much.

          1. richard

            biden’s polls are at least 50% water weight
            you get to an actual election, provided he makes it that far (“you should vote for trump!”)
            and a lot of that name recognition/obama proximity low level enthusiasm doesn’t turn into real votes

          1. flora

            adding: the age of the candidates and party leadership isn’t the problem,imo; it’s their “centrist”, 3-way politics fixation that’s the problem, and too many younger candidates have that same fixation.

  12. roadrider

    Bring it on Barry. Bernie will eat you alive. You’ll be exposed as the corrupt, narcissistic, hypocritical establishment toady, con-man and defender of a dystopic, out-of-touch elite that you always were.

  13. Punxsutawney

    Obama speaking is a bit of a trigger for me, and this is no different. Ever since he stood a “stones throw” from where long time high tech manufacturing was moved to China and chided us about how TPP was going to be good for us children and we should stfu.

    Obama has again demonstrated that he will be on the wrong side of history. Assuming anyone lives to write it.

  14. jefemt

    Never Forget Trup’s Empty Podium Speech.

    Just prior to 2016 DNC Convention, late June if I recall correctly, Bernie gave one of his most impassioned, barn burning and spot-on speeches. AZ or NV, I can’t recall. Trump was slated to give a speech at the same time. He was late, for the entire time of Bernie’s speech.

    What did ALL MSM and Cable news show? Trumps empty podium.

    There is a very real possibility that folks are so tired of the sham that is the Dim machine, abetted by the MSM, that if legitimate alternative candidates like Bernie, Tulsi, Yang keep getting marginalized with n coverage, that may will not show up in November 2020, and Trump will be re-elected.

    Noo more holding the nose. I live in Montana, sparse population that matters not in popular vote, or Electoral college vote, so it is very easy to write in and vote conscience, or not vote. That pattern may repeat in 2020 on a much larger scale nationally.

    From soup to nuts, the whole thing is rotten to the core.

  15. Kurtismayfield

    Be careful what you wish for. According to a lot of my colleagues in Education, they would vote for Obama again. Everytime I ask them “What exactly did Obama do for education in this country?”, most either give me blank stares or toss back TDS. If I mention Duncan and charter schools, only a month nority have an ah ha moment. My point is these are educated people who still don’t pay attention to details. This is the electorate you are dealing with in the US.

    1. mtnwoman

      This, sadly.
      Even supposed educated people go more for the “feel” (that they are fed) vs the actual facts of the details.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Perhaps, I’m over thinking it, but I believe at some level people are aware of a need for civic virtue to keep democracy functioning. The supposed “meritocracy” has celebrated their ignorance for so long, even minimal learning is a threat to expose them as sinners against the public religion.

        Learning Joe Biden is a monster requires very little effort. Being confronted with the reality Biden is Joe Biden, not a character in the Onion, is a clear reminder these people have put so little thought and effort into what Ben Franklin meant when he said, “it’s a republic if you can keep it.”

        “OMG Russia” is appealing because It absolve them from their recent Ignorance of Obama destroying organizing apparatus and Clinton incompetence.

  16. Arizona Slim

    A clear sign that his economic decisions after the Great Recession had been seen as inadequate?

    Oh, please. Under Obama, I went from having a successful business to living in poverty. So much for all that talk about hope and change.

    And I wasn’t the only one whose life got worse under The Exalted One. I’ve met many other people like me at …

    … Bernie Sanders rallies.

    1. Punxsutawney

      See my comment above, it affected my household. Not to the point of poverty, but retirement will be a challenge.

      So me as well, and then there are friends who lost their home to mortgage fraud…

      1. inode_buddha

        Retirement an home ownership is simply not happening for me, barring a miracle. At least I don’t get so angry anymore — more like cold-blooded.

    2. level

      Lost my middle class, professional job in April, 2009. Have never made more than 1/3 of that salary in the decade since.

  17. Camelotkidd

    Obama was the ultimate pawl, in a party full of them.
    “The American political system, since at least 1968, has been operating like a ratchet, and both parties — Republicans and Democrats — play crucial, mutually reinforcing roles in its operation. The electoral ratchet permits movement only in the rightward direction. The Republican role is fairly clear; the Republicans apply the torque that rotates the thing rightward. The Democrats’ role is a little less obvious. The Democrats are the pawl. They don’t resist the rightward movement — they let it happen — but whenever the rightward force slackens momentarily, for whatever reason, the Democrats click into place and keep the machine from rotating back to the left.”

    1. Hepativore

      I remember reading the first few chapters of that book, The Ratchet Effect, online. I do not think it was ever completed. Still, even though the book was written in 2010, it describes how Republicans and Democrats operate. This is why we get Democrats like Barack Obama who masquerade as progressives even though the Democratic party is largely center-right.

      If Sanders gets the nomination, it would be interesting to see if Obama’s mask slips off and watch him pout in scorn publicly. Still, he might try and get in front of a Sander’s nomination and claim that he was on board with Sander’s policies the entire time. This way, he can try and protect his “legacy” saying that that it was not the right moment during his presidency to try for perfect and pie-in-the-sky policies and that Sanders is playing a risky game. By doing that, Obama can think that he saved himself from irrelevance while privately sneering at the progressive left. I would not put it past Obama to use his remaining influence in Washington to undermine Sanders the entire time should Sanders become president.

      1. richard

        “I would not put it past Obama to use his remaining influence in Washington to undermine Sanders the entire time should Sanders become president.”
        Of course; he has to keep earning his kickbacks, yes?
        I think, as others have said, that he will find his overtouted personal “influence” completely contaminated by the (un)popularity of his shite ideas.

      2. inode_buddha

        This is news to me, and a bit exciting. It seems the ratchet effect may be closely related to the way that many failures all tend in the same direction. I am trying to find links to read up on this.

      3. inode_buddha

        “…he might try and get in front of a Sander’s nomination and claim that he was on board with Sander’s policies the entire time. This way, he can try and protect his “legacy” saying that that it was not the right moment during his presidency to try for perfect and pie-in-the-sky policies and that Sanders is playing a risky game. By doing that, Obama can think that he saved himself from irrelevance while privately sneering at the progressive left. I would not put it past Obama to use his remaining influence in Washington to undermine Sanders the entire time should Sanders become president.”

        If Obama did that, it would be very easy for the Sanders campaign to dig up Obama’s actual statements and policies, and make him [Obama] look like an even bigger liar., showing how he was never on board with these policies. By that point, Sanders would have the bully pulpit, and *lots* of Americans remember 2008, bitterly.

        1. Hepativore

          Of course it would. Unfortunately, Obama is still lionized in the eyes of many of the “liberal” crowd, and he has an army of Clintonites behind him. A lot of these people will blot out or disbelieve any criticism of St. Barack and so it might be tougher to use this against Obama than you think.

          I found a link to that book I was talking about. It was older than I thought as it was actually written in 2005. I read it in 2010. The entire publication is worth reading, and not much has really changed in how the two parties operate since then.

          Here you are, inode_buddha…


          1. David

            Thank you for that link.

            Obama is the third-rail of Democratic Party politics. His benefactors will crucify anyone tarnishing their brand – which is worth trillions to those benefiting from the status quo.

            Corrupt and anti-intellectual – a staple of neoliberal political institutions.

          2. Acacia

            Very interesting. Thanks, Hepativore.

            From chapter XIV. “What’s the matter with… liberals?”

            As long as the Left in American life is identified with liberalism, it doesn’t have a prayer. It can’t tap the Jeffersonian-Jacksonian, bottom-rail-on-top energies of the American people. And into the vacuum thus left, the Karl Roves and Matt Drudges, the Rush Limbaughs and the John McLaughlins, can move. They’re not the real Jeffersonian-Jacksonian thing, of course. They just borrow its language and dress up in its clothes; but they’re the only ones out there who are even doing that much.

    2. Oh

      The DimRats ensure that the ratchet is clicking in the right (yes, Right) direction by voting in the worst of the worst right wing Supreme Court judges.

    3. Vegetius

      I like the image of the pawl. I think it works in the economic sense if you are talking about globalization.

      But it fails to explain why almost every cultural indicator and trend has been moving leftward for half a century with almost no pause whatsoever.

      1. LyonNightroad

        Because leftward cultural movement is in no way a threat to the status quo that props up the elite.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Because the rich people don’t lose any money from the cultural indicators and trends moving leftward. And since the Republicans make a public boast of opposing the left-wing cultural drift, the upper class Democrats can run the swindle of claiming that supporting the left-wing cultural drift makes them opponents of Republicans on the cultural-drift front in hopes of hiding the fact that the upper class Democrats are supporters of Republicans on the economic policy front.

  18. Wukchumni

    For somebody who was a slave to supplying spoils, he seems to have a new leash on life in his admonition statement, somebody else’s.

  19. curlydan

    The whole Politico article is interesting in terms of how Obama wants all the contenders to come get his wise and tough-love counsel. Sanders is a threat to his “legacy” because Sanders exposes how little was accomplished.

    But as someone noted in Water Cooler comments yesterday, the article is filled with enough gossip that it will infuriate people from every candidate’s camp.

    Even Eric Holder has a big SAD because Biden’s entry effectively stopped his candidacy.

    1. richard

      i was thinking bloomers actually kind of helped bernie by dividing the vote more among more conservative voters
      (i promise i am not pushing for that stupid cutsiepie nickname for bloomberg. it is a one off.)

    2. jrs

      Bernie and old people is like Clinton and the states she didn’t campaign in. It really is that kind of move at this point to not target them extensively.

      Bernie knows he is doing poorly with old people, and hasn’t done anything that has changed it, and it’s going to cost him. It’s not enough to be a rock star to the young one has to actually win.
      Bloomberg and his spending is not relevant unless he actually becomes a credible threat to anything and this hasn’t happened yet and may never happen.

      1. inode_buddha

        I think he is smart enough to know how difficult it is to change the minds of his own demographic group. *every* person over 60 that I know, equates “socialism” with “USSR” and Stalin and Gulags. This is because of the propaganda they were raised with. They conflate an economic system with totalitarian oppression, completely ignoring the economic oppression going on right under their noses by capitalists.

        1. roadrider

          You must not know many 60+ people. I’m 64 and I’m a Bernie supporter (and I was in 2016 also). I voted for Stein in 2016 and since I’ve been told that the Greens won’t be on my ballot in 2020 I will just write in Bernie. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. And I stopped believing in the “Red Scare” fear mongering of social democracy decades ago.

          1. CHG

            My husband and I are both 74 and wrote in Bernie last election. We’ll be doing the same this election if he isn’t on the ballot!

        2. WheresOurTeddy

          “They conflate an economic system with totalitarian oppression, completely ignoring the economic oppression going on right under their noses by capitalists.”

          But when they graduated high school in 1955, if you were a white person who spoke English in complete sentences, showed up to work, and didn’t commit crimes, you got to be in the middle class.

          Try convincing someone over 65 it’s not like that anymore. Can’t be done. Say “oligarchy” and their eyes glaze over. While they turn back to their TV that was made in Asia.

          1. Cuibono

            not my experience at all. most know it is not like that for young people now and are trying to wrap their minds around it.
            They see their kids and grandkids struggling.

          2. Michael Fiorillo

            If the statistics are to be believed, a lot of boomers are going to subsist on cat food once they stop working, having neither a defined-benefit pension or adequate savings. A friend of mine, who worked in publishing for thirty years, got whacked at work when he was 52, spent his IRA on health insurance and maintaining his modest lifestyle, and is now homeless…

            I know that’s just one anecdote, but there’s gonna be a lot of privation out there among older people, which partially explains all the inter-generational warfare being ginned up.

    3. ptb

      65+ typically already can have Medicare, so strictly speaking, M4A becomes all risk / no reward. Of course kids and grandkids, so it is not that simple. Nevertheless, every election the standard scare tactic to turn out the vote of seniors is to say the other guy (or gal) is gonna make radical changes and thus will take away your social security and Medicare. (that reduced to a one liner, printed on a postcard with a smiling headshot of the candidate who will defend the recipient, once a week to everyone over 65. standard practice.)

      1. Oh

        They don’t know that but such Seniors will reap plenty of rewards e.g. dental care, no more premiums, no more hassles with the insurance companies and donut holes and on and on but they’re too blind to read up on Bernie’s M4A.

    4. John k

      Gloomy data.
      I’m comforted by the following:
      Most polls are deliberately skewed away from Bernie.
      6% of landlines are the base of most polls… granted the demo base info is included in this case.
      There are more in the 18-49 demo than 50+. And the young are beginning to participate, as seen in the 2018, just a midterm.
      A year from now 4% of the 50+ will not be with us. The 49ers that grad into that class will be more likely to vote Bernie.
      Liz is fading as Bernie surges, IMO bc of her waffling on m4a, those that care smell bait and switch, leaving her with the ‘woman pres before I die’ demo.. If she bows out, who does she endorse? Whatever hopes she had with Hillary, she must know there’s no chance biden gives her veep or treasury. Bernie would keep his promise, whatever it is… and maybe Liz is his strongest running mate, tulsi getting So little traction.
      Most important is how Bernie does in early primaries. Plus people will be paying attention to who does well in the swings… Biden must do well there to maintain the electability theme… with this field he will not be doing so well that SC will be a firewall as it was with Hillary, plus he won’t do as well with young blacks.
      And Ca coming early…

      1. Carey

        >tulsi getting So little traction

        >Most polls are deliberately skewed away from Bernie.
        Agree; and guessing it’d also apply to Gabbard, who is making the debates.

    5. David

      Too many baby boomers equate Bernie with the Soviet villains of the Cold War. And most, sure as hell, love their “socialist” safety net – but don’t see the need to extend the need for those types of programs to the hollowed-out middle and working classes.

      Running as an FDR Democrat may soften the strident image of “socialism” seared in Boomer’s minds during the Cold War.

      And perhaps delinking the national debt as a topic of serious concern will reorient older voters’ view of modern economics.

      Overconfident bureaucrats during the Trump years have only reinforced the idea that bureaucrats should not be in charge. A reform message from Bernie may alleviate some of the concerns over single-payer in older voters.

      Older voters have been subjected to a media silo that encourages intellectual stagnation. Old brands have become disconnected to reality, but that message has not penetrated enough older minds yet.

      The legacy of Baby Boomers is at stake. The “okay boomer” meme will be a gateway to further entrenchment or, possibly, a call for an evaluation of how unreliable legacy brands have become.

        1. David

          Here is an interesting paper on the subject:

          The word “brand” is now commonly used in political discourse and popular vernacular. In political science, it tends to be used as a surrogate for party labels, packaging, personalities and valence issues in a manner that does not suggest academic familiarity with the brand construct. A brand is a fuller concept than image. An image is the evoked impression of an entity formed from the recall of all communication impressions; a brand is an evoked image that resonates on an emotional level and which stimulates customer loyalty.

          This brings us back to the public image of parties and politicians. Politicians, image handlers and the news media draw audiences’ attention to select information. This emphasis of a perceived reality is known as priming and how the subject is publicly presented is known as framing (Entman 1993). As commercial marketing techniques become more pervasive, political actors are treated as brands, a lexis that is attracting increasing attention in the study of political communication. The American Marketing Association uses a conventional definition that a brand is the “Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” But a brand is much more than a proprietary name. It is a complex concept that is comprised of a multifaceted combination of tangibles, such as a logo, and intangibles such as emotional attachments (de Chernatony and Riley 1998). It is an artificial construct that becomes a public entity that is superficial, manipulated and open to interpretation.

          The purpose of branding is to provide marketing efficiencies while building customer loyalty. Branding seeks to add value to a product or service so that a consumer develops an emotional preference for that choice over the alternatives. To accomplish this, marketers avail of research intelligence to inform consistent and simple messages across media platforms, and attempt to reinforce impressions. Priority is placed on visual communication. However, managing the public image and credibility of a brand is difficult. Reputation is based on many touchpoints, including consumer experiences, and organizations may lack integrated communications (Hutton et al. 2001).

          Students of politics can learn from the study of branding. In academia, this is an emerging way of thinking that connects a number of scholarly approaches to explain political behaviour. We can consider a party brand to encompass the party name, logo, colour schemes and the party’s history of policies and leaders. A candidate brand is the public image of a politician which is formed from the sum of all communications impressions on a member of the citizen audience. The practicalities of branding are intuitive. For instance, the name Green Party of Canada, combined with its use of a green colour scheme, is easy for electors to associate with environmentalism without significant marketing. Conversely, if an unknown and unremarkable citizen runs for public office, it may be impossible to develop any personal brand equity.

          https://www.cpsa-acsp.ca/papers-2013/Marland.pdf – pdf

          Legacy brands can serve as strong symbols. For example, with Millennials, parents view of a party label influence later generations – in baking soda or political parties.

          Parents remain key role models for Millennials as they age and begin to establish their own families, brands parents used become an important reference point when Millennials are choosing their own brands,” says Jill Avery, a Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School.

          “Brands tap into the tenor of Millennials’ lives to find ways to connect with them through the use of surface-level cues, such as subculturally relevant music, entertainment, or fashion, or deeper cultural storytelling, leveraging Millennials’ worldviews, ideologies, and politics.”


  20. PKMKII

    Anyone else smelling fear here? If they really thought Bernie had no chance and Biden has it in the bag, there would be no point in leaking this. Methinks the neoliberal blob has reason to think that Biden’s polling lead is at risk of not translating into primary wins, and so Obama is desperately pulling out the bully pulpit he refused to touch as President.

  21. cnchal

    I couldn’t read the Politico article. My gag reflex was interfering.

    > . . . But can his cerebral politics still galvanize voters in an age of extremes?

    I made it one moar paragraph before looking for the barf bowl.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Or maybe replace that word “cerebral” with words like “treacherous” or “deceitful” or “two-faced” or
        “swindle-ous” or etc.

  22. Synoia

    Obama’s main skill is leading from the back.

    I’d really like to know about his family’s connections to DC. Some of his moves, for example CA to NY for College, one, reek of influence and money.

  23. stevelaudig

    Obama— the inactivist or anti-activist former president. remind me, other than the weakest possible health care reform and avoiding a couple of Hillary wars what did he accomplish that has lasted? now he wants to derail Sanders making Obama an objective enemy of meaningful reform which is to be expected of someone who de facto pardoned war criminals and financial criminals. The closer one examines his presidency the smaller it and he becomes.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      avoiding a couple of Hillary wars what did he accomplish that has lasted?

      Not exacerbating anyway.

      The closer one examines his presidency the smaller it and he becomes.

      I’m fairly convinced Obama will never release a memoir as it would be too light and far lighter than his expectations of being Lincoln 2.0. He’ll say being President is “really hard” (because no one sane thought that/snark) as an excuse, and he might even turn out short essays on events such as the Bin Laden raid. I just don’t see Obama being happy with even the fluffiest drivel about his two terms. Any look back on his Presidency would damage his brand.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      ” What did he accomplish that has lasted?”

      He made the Bush Tax Cuts permanent.

      He destroyed all hope of Health Care Reform for a generation and maybe longer.

      He destroyed the possible New Deal Restoration moment.

      He immunised and impunified the FIRE sector perpetrators. He built on Bill Clinton’s work in making fraud legal and non-prosecutable.

      He immunised and impunified War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity by protecting the Cheney-Bushes for carrying those crimes out.

      He created the power-vacuum and the expectations-vacuum in which Donald Trump could run amok, all the way to the Presidency. A Trump 2020 Victory by Nixon-beats-McGovern proportions would be the capstoning of that particular Obama achievement.

      Obama will be remembered as one of America’s more evil presidents. Not as evil as Woodrow Wilson, but pretty evil.

  24. anon y'mouse


    retire into private life, like presidents used to have the good sense to do.

    when did we lose this vital tradition?

    isn’t bad enough to be screwing up the world while you are elected. now you have to do it when unelected.

    we need to school the public against “authoritative opinions” when it comes to things like this, celebrities, of which he is one, have no more firm grasp on what -should- be done than any citizen does. that is the entire point, even in a fake democracy.

  25. Glen

    The last time Obama opened his mouth and heaped scorn on somebody – that somebody became the next President. So power on Obama!

    Wonder why he bothers, much too late to do anything about his legacy which is going to be written by the generation that he betrayed and screwed. So good luck with all that!

  26. Big Tap

    I have somewhat of a different take on this article. Doubt Obama would openly criticize Bernie Sanders if he is leading. That would make him look petty.
    This article is meant to be read by a small influencial group of Democrats – the Superdelegates. He’s telling them directly not to vote for Bernie Sanders in the 2nd round. This is blatant fixing of an election by a neoliberial corporate whore. The fix in 2020 will be more vicious and obvious then it was in 2016.

    1. Carey

      That *is* an interesting take, but would not the superdelegates™ already know that? How the bread gets buttered, etc.

  27. Acacia

    I recall that Obama already told Joe not to run and so perhaps this is a signal from Team O to the not-Bernie dem candidates that Brand O is available to plug one of them, and that the bidding war for his blessings can now begin in earnest.

  28. TG

    Barack Obama talked like FDR, but he walked like Marie Antoinette. A smooth talking corporate grifter, the go-to errand boy for Wall Street, an utterly corrupt individual who only gained the presidency because his powerful patrons put him there.

    But it is interesting: for all that all people can likely be corrupted with enough money, and given that this country alone must have many millions of people who would sell their souls for a fraction of what was paid to Obama, why is good help so hard to find? Corporate shills like Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Marco Rubio, Hilary Clinton, John McCain – they prosper only because they have total corporate media support, and that works, but when actually challenged they are brittle little-minded people.

    It must be something about selling out your own people that makes it hard to attract the truly talented. That’s why servants like Barack Obama and Bill Clinton were so valuable to the oligarchy, people combining that sort of personal charm and intelligence with total ruthless greed are – for whatever reason – surprisingly rare in public life, although I have no idea why.

    Love or hate Trump, it was a pleasure to see him take on a pack of these whores and expose how utterly weak they really are in person. I’m not saying it’s enough to excuse everything else, but ending the Clinton and Bush dynasties was surely a guilty pleasure. C’mon, admit it, you enjoyed that part, at least?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Barack Obama talked like FDR

      This is inaccurate. Obama spoke in word salad at best. Even his vaunted 2004 DNC speech was clearly designed as an attack on the imagery of “Two Americas” and the wealth inequality warned about by John Edwards. His “race” speech besides lamenting black liberation theology basically turns into a Cosby rant.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Yes, FDR’s rhetoric was straightforward and succinct; Obama’s heaved and strained toward “eloquence” and “highmindedness,” achieving an anodyne banality that was a soothing balm for morally complacent liberals.

        His speeches before Black audiences were the worst: condescending (when not contemptuous), scolding, deceitful. Then there’s his performance in Flint “after” the water crisis, which turns the dial to eleven, and really shows the moral rot at his core.

  29. David in Santa Cruz

    Obama betrayed every voter who turned-out for him — he excused torture, he bailed-out asset-gambling by the banks who funded him, he failed to bring to heel mortgage fraudsters and assured their profits, he enabled millions of unnecessary and fraudulent foreclosures. Obama personally assured the vast concentration of wealth in the wake of the 2008 GFC by allowing his cronies to swallow-up the wealth of the rest of the citizenry. As a privileged person who never suffered under the legacy of slavery, his views on race appear to have been lifted from the Cosby Show. Worst of all, he regularly personally vetted murder.

    He has done more than any single person In history to undermine the faith of ordinary people in the rule of law and the integrity of the democratic process in this country. Why wouldn’t he continue to do so?

    Of course Barry fears Bernie. I strongly suspect that he is worried that he stands a decent chance of finding himself locked-up in a cell in The Hague pending trial for Crimes Against Humanity were Bernie to be elected president.

  30. Harry Cording

    Never forget: Democrats LOVE to lose, the pay is the same with less effort expended.
    Neoliberal through & through.

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