Thoughts on Warren, Sanders and the Convention: Warren’s Choice?

Yves here. An initial look at the longer-game implications of the Warren-Sanders dustup.

By Thomas Neuburger. Originally published at DownWithTyranny!


Elizabeth Warren talking at SXSW about the now-famous private conversation with Bernie Sanders

Much has been written about the Warren-Sanders-CNN confrontation at the most recent debate, both the conflict at the debate itself and hot-mic conversation afterward (excellent contextual rundown here).

For the record, here’s what was said at the debate:

CNN Moderator: Let’s now turn to an issue that’s come up in the last 48 hours, Senator Sanders. Seen and reported yesterday that … Senator Sanders, Senator Warren confirmed in a statement that in 2018, you told her that you did not believe that a woman could win the election. Why did you say that?

Sanders: Well, as a matter of fact, I didn’t say it, and I don’t want to waste a whole lot of time on this, because this is what Donald Trump and maybe some of the media want. […]

CNN Moderator: Senator Sanders, I do want to be clear here. You’re saying that you never told Senator Warren that a woman could not win the election?

Sanders: That is correct.

CNN Moderator: Senator Warren, what did you think when Senator Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?

[Audience reaction; gasping and laughter at the question.]

Warren: I disagreed. […]

Note that the disagreement is stark. Though both candidates backed away from further accusations, their positions remain as stated above.

Next, here’s what was said after the debate while the mics were still live. Sanders moved to Warren and held out his hand for a handshake, which Warren refused to take. Then she said the following:

Warren: I think you called me a liar on national TV.

Sanders: What?

Warren: I think you called me a liar on national TV.

Sanders: You know, let’s not do it right now. If you want to have that discussion, we’ll have that discussion.

Warren: Anytime.

Sanders: You called me a liar. You told me — all right, let’s not do it now.”

The dialog didn’t appear angry, though it was clearly tense.

This disagreement could result from a misunderstanding of what was said at the meeting, but the accusation and the denial are too clear-cut, not nuanced enough, to allow for that interpretation. As we have it from the participants, only one of them can be right.

Why Is This Coming Out Now?

Several explanation have been offered about why this story is emerging now. One is that Warren’s side of the “he’s a sexist” story was leaked strategically by Warren or her staffers, many of whom are Clinton and Obama alumni. Another is that one of the reporters to whom Warren herself told the story “off the record” at different private dinner spoke to CNN or spoke to people who spoke to CNN. Or it could be a combination of the two.

Via Ryan Grim: “Additional news in the story: A year ago, Warren told a group of journalists at an off-record dinner about her conversation with Sanders about whether a woman could win in 2020. That appears to be how the news got into the bloodstream.”

Grim says neither he nor any of his colleagues at The Intercept was at the dinner.

It’s also been rumored that CNN had the story for a while, ready to go, and that they were waiting on confirmation from someone closer to Warren — or waiting for a strategic moment; for example, the week before their own hosted debate — to let it drop. None of the latter speculation, however, has been confirmed.

In any case, the story is out there, the torches have been lit, and we are where we are.

What Happens Now?

Both campaigns are backing away from greater public conflict. Whether that holds true in the long run is anyone’s guess, but my guess is that it will. Still, the following is clear:

  • Warren has been damaged, perhaps permanently, in the eyes of many Sanders supporters who have considered her a good, and perhaps equivalent, second choice. Her favorability has gone way down in their eyes and may never recover.
  • Warren’s charge of sexism has inflamed the existing anger of many Democratic and liberal-leaning women and relit the fire that coursed through the Sanders-Clinton primary and beyond.
  • Rightly or wrongly, Warren’s polling numbers among voters have fallen, while Sanders’ polling has held steady or improved. It’s yet to be seen if the incident alters long-term fund-raising for either candidate, but it might. For his part, Sanders has seen a post-debate surge in funding.

So far, in other words, most of the damage has been borne by Warren as a result of the incident. She may recover, but this could also end her candidacy by accelerating a decline that started with public reaction to her recent stand on Medicare For All. None of this is certain to continue, but these are the trends.

What Happens Later?

This whole national exercise has a much greater purpose, to put a progressive in the White House in 2021 — not just a Democrat, a real progressive. Doing that requires securing the nomination on behalf of progressive voters at the 2020 convention.

To do that, one of the following events must occur:

  • One of the candidates who appeals to progressives — Warren and Sanders both make this claim — must win the nomination on the first ballot by winning a clear majority of pledged delegates beforehand, OR
  • Warren and Sanders must find a way to combine their delegates and their supporters prior to the convention to achieve a majority for one of them on the second round of voting.

If Warren and Sanders both enter the convention with healthy delegate totals — as long as both are gaining supporters and not at the other’s expense — the contest can and should continue, for now at least, as it has. And if they enter the convention with, say, 60% of the pledged delegates between them, the case for nominating a candidate who appeals to progressive voters is strong.

But if Warren’s candidacy becomes unviable, as it seems it might — and if the goal of both camps is truly to defeat Joe Biden — it’s incumbent on Warren to drop out and endorse her “friend and ally” Bernie Sanders as soon as it’s clear she can no longer win. (The same is true if Sanders becomes unviable, though that seems much less likely.)

Ms. Warren can do whatever she wants, certainly. But if she does anything less than help elect the last and only progressive with a chance, she damages them both to Biden’s benefit, and frankly, helps nominate Biden. She has the right to do that, but not to claim at the same time that she’s working to further the progressive movement.

We’ll know about the consequences of this conflict soon enough. Perhaps she’ll rise again, or at least triage her decline.

But if she doesn’t, if she falls to the bottom of the top tier or into the second and stays there, her endorsement — or non-endorsement — of Sanders will be watched and noticed, closely and widely, and she will be defined, probably permanently, by her response.

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124 comments

  1. TG

    Bottom line: the corporate press has gone all-in on Warren. She simply MUST be a whore, like Obama, or Hilary/Bill Clinton. If Warren were a real progressive, the big money would never go for her like this.

    I will vote for Bernie Sanders. But I will vote for Trump over Warren. Better the moron and agent of chaos that you know, than the calculating vicious backstabber that you don’t.

    Reply
          1. Carey

            “Lickspittle” is a venerable word, and apt for Senator Warren, IMO.
            When she refused to shake Sanders’s graciously-extended hand- after
            she and Ms. Phillip participated in a establishment mugging of him-
            that was it for me. No Warren, no way, no how.

            Reply
    1. russell1200

      She’s got the Clinton’s and now Obama folks behind her.

      I doubt they are thrilled with her, but probably view as someone they can work with and the other options are worse or too low in the poll numbers. I assume Buttigieg is fine with them, but his numbers are stuck.

      Reply
    2. False Solace

      Personally I cannot consider voting for a drone murderer like Trump, who cozies up to the Saudis and has tried to cut SS and Medicare. He’s shown what he is, just as Warren has. We’ll never get M4A from either one of them.

      If it’s not Bernie I’m voting Green. I live in a blue state that almost went for Trump last time – my vote potentially matters and will serve as a signal. Voting for the lesser murderous corporatist scum is what got us into this mess. I’m over it. I will not vote for evil.

      Reply
      1. jrs

        I won’t ever vote for someone who is as hostile to environmental regulations as Trump either, I’d sooner poke my eyes out with a scissor 100 times.

        Does anyone read about what is going on with Trump and water regulations. It’s tragic, it hurts me to the core of my being, I grieve. Ah that’s what it is to give a damn about the planet even at this late date. It really hurts! And sure this hostility to environmental regulations is gonna kill people as well.

        Now my vote in the general doesn’t matter, but I don’t mind casting a symbolic vote against Trump and well might. If you confuse this with Biden etc. is wonderful I really truly can’t help you. I know they’re bad, I know I’ll mostly be loathing their decisions the whole time, and I’ll take their bad over Trump and even vote for it even if I don’t have to. But if not I’d just vote 3rd party or not at all, but #NeverTrump.

        Yes and of course Trump is threatening to cut SS as well, he’s not better than anyone.

        Reply
      2. Jason Boxman

        Wow, I could have written the same thing when Obama ran for round two. I couldn’t in good conscience endorse his policies with my vote.

        Reply
      3. Carey

        >Personally I cannot consider voting for a drone murderer like Trump, who cozies up to the Saudis and has tried to cut SS and Medicare. He’s shown what he is, just as Warren has.

        Maybe this is satire, but could not “Obama” be as easily substituted for “Trump”
        in this paragraph?

        Reply
    3. Tom Bradford

      But I will vote for Trump over Warren.

      I’m not, thank God, an American but I don’t know how anyone can adopt this attitude. Trump is a moron, but he’s a moron with control of US foreign policy, C-in-C of the US military and his finger on the nuclear button. The chaos, inequity, damage and injustice he wreaks within the US is the US’s business but the chaos and damage he’s wreaking internationally and the inanity of of his views – and actions – with regard to the climate crisis affects the whole world and all we out here can do is hope the US comes to its senses and rids the world of this menace even if his successor offends a chunk of the US electorate politically.

      Reply
      1. Tom Doak

        Your assumption is that a moron is worse than our current military and foreign policy establishment. They’re the ones who offered Trump the “option” of assassinating Soleimani, and have developed plans for “limited nuclear war”.

        Reply
        1. Tom Bradford

          It’s the job of the ‘establishment’ to put all the options before the boss, together with their best estimate of the consequences of those options. Establishments that doctor those options are usurping the function of the elected leader and hence thwarting the electorate.

          It’s the job of the elected leader to consider those options and their potential outcomes through the lens of the what they consider the best interest of the people they represent and after consideration of all the expert advice available to them.

          It’s the job of the people to elect the person best able to do that job along the lines of what they, the people, consider to be their best interests. True it’s hard to do that on the strength of what a candidate says and promises ex-ante, but surely Trump now has amply proven that he shouldn’t be allowed to run a dog-show let alone a Nation. Unless you have solid reasons for believing Warren would actually be worse than Trump, for the US and for the world, voting for a no-hoper or even not voting at all is as good as a vote for Trump, and the appalling consequences of this moron getting a second term will be as much on you as on anybody.

          They certainly won’t be on me as I don’t get a say.

          Reply
          1. Tony Wright

            Well said. Comments by many US citizens on NC threads suggest that many of the commentators are no where near fully aware of the extent to which decisions made by the White House impact the residents of other countries – who do NOT get to vote in US elections.
            This comment relates especially, but not only, to the construction and implementation of Climate Change policies.

            Reply
          2. Yves Smith Post author

            Sorry, as a consultant and M&A adviser, I never served up reckless/destructive options to clients to make less stupid ones look better. That is what the MIC has basically admitted they’ve done as a matter of course.

            Reply
    4. HotFlash

      In 2016 I might just have voted for Trump, as a middle finger to the Dem establishment that crowned HRH HRC, since at that time he had not committed any war crimes. But now, no way. One of my unshakeable principles is that I will not vote for a war criminal. Green, write-in, or leave the Pres slot blank. But I hope and pray (and I’m an atheist!) that it doesn’t come to this. We really don’t have another 4 years to waste on this, the earth can’t wait.

      Reply
    5. level

      There is no advantage in voting for the “moron and agent of chaos” considering he brought us kavanaugh and dozens of unqualified federal judges. I will choose the lesser of two evils and vote any D over ttump.

      Reply
  2. Anon

    It’s very unfortunate that it has come to this, but I’ve always been uneasy about Warren. This incident and her accusations against Bernie solidified my suspicions about her. Her being a Republican until her late 40s, her lies about sending her child to public school, her lies about her father being a janitor, her plagiarized cookbook recipes, and claiming to be Native American. It’s all so bizarre to me and for a while I had believed her to have a personality disorder that caused compulsive lying. I wanted to feel good about my vote for Warren, but now? If she wins the nomination I’ll hold my nose and vote for her, but I don’t trust her to not sell out to the neoliberal wing of the Democratic Party. I also don’t trust her to endorse Bernie if she drops out before the convention. She didn’t endorse him in ‘16, so what makes progressives think she’ll do so this time. It would not surprise me in the least if she endorsed Biden or agrees to be his running mate.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether

      Warren is not agreement-capable. Much as it pains me to say this, the Obama administration was correct to hold her at arm’s length.

      Adding, that doesn’t mean that Sanders can’t negotiate with her, if that must be done (to defeat Trump). But any such negotiations cannot proceed on a basis of trust.

      Reply
    2. JohnnyGL

      The most generous interpretation i can come up with is that i’s possible she told the story to several of her clintonite staffers in confidence. Those staffers went to CNN and forced her to stand by her story, even if she didn’t want to go public, because she was threatened with staffers calling her a liar.

      She might have been mad at Bernie for not bailing her out.

      This version, which i don’t believe, but consider it possible (not plausible) would be arguably as bad because her staffers got the upper hand and pushed her around.

      Reply
          1. Carey

            How would Warren’s very pointed non-handshake fit into that scenario?
            (See Virginia Heffernan’s take, if you haven’t yet).

            Reply
      1. pretzelattack

        forced her to stand by her story? so you mean she lied about it to start with, then her staffers made her stick with the lie because she was going down in the polls?

        Reply
      2. John Wright

        Warren could have said something to the effect that

        “Bernie and I had a private conversation and I believe he suggested that electing a woman president in the USA would be difficult.”

        “Unfortunately, I mentioned this private conversation to some staffers, who apparently mentioned this to the press.”

        “This does not mean that I believe Bernie to be sexist.”

        “I appreciate opinions and advice from someone as experienced as Bernie.”

        “I want others to know that, private advice supplied to me by anyone will be treated as private information, not to be divulged to the press.”

        “The staffer responsible for passing this information to the press has been released from the campaign.”

        “I apologize to Bernie for allowing this to happen.”

        Reply
        1. jrs

          The problem is the country has become so irrational and susceptible to soundbites and twitter shame and etc. that you can’t even say “electing a women president would be difficult” which might be true, or it becomes like Hillary’s deplorable remark, we all know it’s true some Trump supporters fit the description, but it gets taken way out of context and exaggerated beyond all recognition.

          Reply
          1. Carey

            >The problem is the country has become so irrational and susceptible to soundbites and twitter shame and etc.

            No agency? Mmm.

            I’ll go with “the country has been driven…”, likely by concentrated, self-interested entities. YMMV.

            Reply
      3. jrs

        She didn’t even have to deny it. Should could have just been “That was a private conversation, I will not go into what was said in private. Bernie is a good friend of mine, who has supported women candidates on many occasions”.

        Reply
    3. Carey

      Anon: my spidey-sense started going off with Warren’s appearance w/ Maddow, who
      received her so warmly. Any friend of Maddow’s..

      Reply
        1. John Zelnicker

          @ambrit
          January 21, 2020 at 6:30 am
          ——-

          “Strike three! A sizzling fast ball over the middle of the plate, while the batter just looked dumbfounded”

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Hi John. I love the baseball theme.
            So, from the announcer’s booth comes the following: “And the first base coach is yelling at the batter to run to first anyway! ‘We’ll let the lawyers figure it out after the game!’ he’s yelling. Oh my, these new rules are so confusing. A fan doesn’t know who’s on first!”
            You expected eminem?
            Who’s on first: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sShMA85pv8M&t=1s

            Reply
              1. ambrit

                Likewise. Tax season has started and I foresee lots of renumerative clients for you.
                A motto for you? “I start where Turbo bogs down!”
                It being Da South and all, maybe a sign in your window stating: “Acceptamos cartas de credito de los bancos nacionales.”
                Mucho gusto! Especially if they pay in gold.

                Reply
            1. Anonymous Coward

              The lawyers would argue that a third strike that is not fielded cleanly does afford the batter who struck out an opportunity to advance to first on the catcher’s error. The lawyers would win that argument too.

              Reply
        2. Code Name D

          Isn’t that the one with the recall notice? If you turn the stearing wheel past center-left, the transmission blows up.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            I missed the recall notice, but I do expect the wheels to fall of eventually. Then the DNC will have to invent the wheel all over again.

            Reply
  3. Jeff W

    “…if she does anything less than help elect the last and only progressive with a chance, she damages them both to Biden’s benefit…”

    If Elizabeth Warren’s candidacy becomes unviable, the pressure on her to combine her delegates with those of Sanders—from those supporting Bernie Sanders and those legitimately concerned with Joe Biden’s chances against Trump*—will be enormous. And, if, instead, Warren helps nominate Biden and Biden then goes on to lose to Donald Trump—as I’m all but certain he will—it will be all too clear just who played a pivotal role in helping to make that match-up even possible.

    I have no confidence in Elizabeth Warren “doing the right thing” but she might be susceptible to the pressure and to the ignominy attached to doing the disastrously wrong thing.

    *Donald Trump, for his part, is reportedly “privately obsessed” with Sanders, not, it seems, with Biden.

    Reply
    1. rusti

      In Sanders’ case, his surge in the polls coincided with his emergence as the chief apologist for the Iranian regime. We needed to point out that he would be dangerous as president since he made clear he would appease terrorists and terror-sponsoring nations.

      If this is really representative of a line of attack that the Trump campaign plans to use on him, that would be great. I can’t imagine anything that would resonate less with voters. But I was a bit surprised to see this in a Bernie fundraising mail:

      The wise course would have been to stick with that nuclear agreement, enforce its provisions, and use that diplomatic channel with Iran to address our other concerns with Iran, including their support of terrorism.

      What groups are they referring to when they say this? Hezbollah, which is part of Parliament in Lebanon? Iraqi PMF that are loosely integrated with the Iraqi army?

      Reply
    2. Bill Carson

      Yep, Warren is a political novice, and she’s extremely naive. That Massachusetts senate seat was practically handed to her on a silver platter. She has no idea that she was played in ’16 and she’s being played now.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        >Yep, Warren is a political novice, and she’s extremely naive. That Massachusetts senate seat was practically handed to her on a silver platter. She has no idea that she was played in ’16 and she’s being played now.

        Mentioned a fair amount here, but still not enough, IMO. Thank you for saying it, especially that last bit.

        Reply
  4. Bill Carson

    Now Bernie is apologizing to Biden for someone else pointing out Biden’s corruption problem.

    What the heck is going on over there?? Hey Bernie—now is the time to punch Biden in the mouth, HARD! It’s what Trump is going to do to you if you get the nomination. If we don’t test these Democratic candidates in the primary, then we’re going to be in for some ugly surprises, just like Hillary was after she won the nomination after a soft primary. We’ve got to air the dirty laundry now! TODAY!

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether

      > now is the time to punch Biden in the mouth,

      Iowa voters like nice. As does the large, conflict-averse portion of the Democrat Party that mainlines West Wing reruns. “Why can’t we all get along?” is very powerful for such voters; and their model of politics is “good people having smart thoughts.” Good, smart people like they are.

      Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        I’m honestly terrified of Iowa dems and their very questionable decision-making.

        Yes, they did a good job in ’08 in picking a winner in Obama (yes, Obama chose to govern terribly, but his campaign seemed very promising).

        This bunch picked John Kerry in 2004. They seriously plucked Kerry’s failing campaign out of the doldrums and vaulted him to victory.

        I’m really worried they might just opt for Klobuchar, or even Biden, at the last minute.

        Reply
    2. John k

      Yes. But it doesn’t have to be Bernie that does it. There are plenty of supporters that can do that while Bernie is the nice guy above the fray,
      I trust Bernie’s political instincts.

      Reply
      1. flora

        Yes. Now, about Joe’s corruption problem….

        “It looks like “Middle Class” Joe has perfected the art of taking big contributions, then representing his corporate donors at the cost of middle- and working-class Americans. Converting campaign contributions into legislative favors and policy positions isn’t being “moderate”. It is the kind of transactional politics Americans have come to loathe.

        “There are three clear examples.”

        https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/20/joe-biden-corruption-donald-trump

        Reply
        1. Carey

          I thought that Teachout’s piece on Biden was not direct enough, and thus
          missed the mark.. the converted already agree, and there was no *solid*,
          in-your-face red meat there for potential converts.
          Then Sanders walked it back anyway.. (I do know he’s in a tough spot)

          “Don’t go half-steppin”, my old Cajun buddy used to (correctly) tell me..

          Reply
  5. Bill Carson

    I haven’t read Lambert’s analysis of the NYT endorsement, but here’s what the Establishment is trying to do: prop up Warren so she gets at least 15% in Iowa, thereby splitting the progressive votes and making sure Sanders doesn’t get many delegates.

    This is the DNC’s entire strategy: bolster the number of candidates, change the rules in states like Colorado so Bernie can’t get a majority of delegates in any state—NO SURPRISES LIKE HIM WINNING COLORADO AND MICHIGAN LAST YEAR—-and we’ll go into the convention with Biden or another candidate having 51% of delegates OR, as Plan B, a brokered convention—-Super Delegates chose an Establishment candidate.

    Bernie’s prospects are looking very grim.

    Reply
    1. Biph

      I hope that winning creates it’s own momentum. If Bernie wins Iowa and New Hampshire his prospects of winning South Carolina and Nevada improve, if he wins those two and California it may all be over but the crying.

      Reply
    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I don’t understand your conclusion.

      Sanders has been rising in the polls.

      The Warren attack backfired. Gave him a bump, hurt her. All sorts of people, even ones who don’t support him, said it wasn’t credible that he said what she claimed he said.

      Sander is #1 in CA and leads among Hispanics and is #2 with black voters, #1 with young black voters.

      Sanders is also #1 in fundraising and way #1 in # of donors.

      Sanders supporters also poll as far more committed to him than other voters are to their pick.

      He’s doing way better than anyone would have forecast despite the media (until just recently) totally ignoring him. And his base is sufficiently committed that it is very effective in whacking back falsehoods on Twitter…..which journos follow. They aren’t used to being dissed this way.

      Reply
      1. Fern

        I’m worried about the internal polling. Sanders has been looking very tense and unhappy the last day or two, from the photos and clips I’ve seen.

        Reply
        1. pretzelattack

          well, he just got betrayed by someone he probably considered a friend, he’s getting smeared 24/7 by the dnc, which is in the process of trying to sabotage his candidacy again, he is recovering from a heart attack at 79–this on top of the normal crazy pressures of running a highly competitive presidential campaign. it could be a lot of things getting him down.

          Reply
          1. Carla

            He’s stuck in D.C. at McConnell’s and Pelosi’s mercy (both of whom are threatened by him) right before the Iowa caucuses — along with Warren and Klobuchar. Reason enough for him to look miserable.

            Reply
  6. Daniel

    Since at least 2016 (with her neutrality in the Sanders-Clinton race) Warren has defined herself as a compromise candidate between the corporate and progressive wings, constantly making rhetorical overtures to each. She is not a neoliberal, but neither is she a committed progressive; to the extent that she has firm convictions (and I am not convinced of that), she is more of a technocratic anti-corruption reformer. She has been vetted as okay by Harry Reid, Barack Obama and the NYT (which attests to her “willingness to compromise”, unlike Sanders). If, as seems likely, nobody comes to the convention with an overwhelming position, she will trade her voice and votes for a position with the stronger faction — probably, unfortunately, the corporate wing. (I’m not at all sure that would be headed by Biden. Bloomberg? Clinton?!!)

    Reply
          1. ambrit

            You are welcome good sir. Vote early and vote often.
            I just had a technophile thought. Someone should deploy areal drones at all the caucus places and do face recognition processing on those who attend. Then cross check all the caucus place attendance lists to weed out multiple voters. Then cross check that list with known members of various factions. The results should be educational.

            Reply
            1. Oh

              The NSA and their friends are already doing that. I don’t think they’ll reveal the multiple votes. The Berine voters will go on a special list.

              Reply
              1. ambrit

                Also, per Albright, there’ll be special bunks in the FEMA camps for women who don’t vote for Hillary this time.

                Reply
              2. Carey

                >The Berine voters will go on a special list.

                Count on it. I have the oddest feeling that my local Clerk-Recorder’s Office have instructions to Do the Right Thing..

                Reply
  7. Amit Chokshi

    Warren has a track record of lying: lied about her dad being a janitor, hers kids going to public school, getting fired for being pregnant, and obviously the Native American heritage.

    As pointed here on NC she’s great at grandstanding when bank ceos are in front of her and doing nothing following that.

    My gut is she is going to endorse Joe Biden and prob got a tease of VP or some other role and all she had to do was kamizake into Bernie with this. It’s backfiring but at this rate and given she’s too deep into it now when she drops out she’ll prob back Biden as she hasn’t shown the integrity to back a guy like Berni.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I don’t see how she is anyone’s VP. She is too old. You want someone under 60, better 50, particularly for an old presidential candidate. Treasury Secretary is a more powerful position. The big appeal of being VP is maybe it positions you later to be President…but that last worked out for Bush the Senior.

      Reply
    2. Sue E Greenwald

      She’s toxic now. No one will want her has VP. Sanders supporters despise her, she comes from a small, Democratic state and she’s loaded with baggage. She brings nothing to a ticket. She torpedoed any hopes or plans she might have had in that regard.

      Reply
    3. Acacia

      By extension, then, it’s plausible that she lied about Sanders’ putative claim that a woman could not be elected president.

      Reply
  8. jackiebass

    I’ve watched Bernie for years. Even long before he decided to run for president. He is the same today as he was then. Bernie isn’t afraid to advocate for something , even though he will get a lot of backlash. I also believe he is sincere in his convictions. If he says something he believes in it.Something you can’t say for the other candidates. Bernie is by far my first choice. After that it would be Warren. Bernie is labeled as a socialist. Actually he is a real Roosevelt democrat. As a life long democrat, I can’t support or vote for a Wall Street candidate. Unlike one of the other commenters, I will never vote for Trump but instead wold vote for a third party candidate. Unfortunate the DNC will do anything to prevent Bernie from being candidate. Progressive democrats need to get out and support a progressive or the nomination will again be stolen by a what I call a light republican.

    Reply
    1. Robert Hahl

      What is great about Bernie is that he is so sure-footed. It was visible in the hot-mic trap Warren set for him where she got nothing, it actually hurt her.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous Coward

        The most impressive thing I have witnessed about Bernie is that he can extemporaneously recall and explain exactly why he voted as he did on every piece of legislation that he has cast a vote on. in. his. life. It is a remarkable talent.

        Reply
  9. Howard

    The outcome of the upcoming Iowa Caucus is too hard to predict. All the candidates are very close. Sanders needs to turnout young and working class voters to win. By many reports, Warren has an excellent ground game in IA and The NY Times endorsement has given a path for her to pick up Klobuchar voters after round one of the caucus. Biden is a mystery to me. How the heck is he even running. Obama pleaded with him not to. That being said, it wouldn’t surprise me if he finishes in the top two. Buttigieg is the wild card. I think the “electability” argument will hurt him as he can’t win after NH.

    Reply
  10. ALM

    According to a recent poll, Elizabeth Warren is one of the most unpopular senators with voters in her own state as measured against approval rates of all other senators in their states. I find this very surprising for someone with a national profile. What do voters in Massachusetts not like about her?

    As for me, I find it more and more difficult to trust Warren because she takes the bait and yields to pressure during a primary when the pressure to back down, moderate, and abandon once championed policy positions and principles is a great deal less than it is during the general election. Warren has gone from Medicare4All to a public option to, in the recent debate, tweaks to the ACA. Despite her roll-out of an ambitious $10 trillion Green New Deal plan, Warren is now to the right of Chuck “Wall Street” Schumer as evidenced by her support of NAFTA 2.0 which utterly fails to address climate change. WTF! Where will she be during a general election?

    And her political instincts are awful as recently demonstrated by her woke, badly executed girl power attack against a candidate who has been a committed feminist for his entire political career.

    Reply
    1. Another Scott

      She also has horrible constituent service. I had an issue with a federal student loan a few years ago (I believe it was the servicer depositing money but not crediting my account and charging me interest and late fees). After getting nowhere with the company, I tried calling her office, figuring that as this was one of her core issues, I would get some response, either help or at least someone who would want to record what happened to her actual constituent. I didn’t hear back for about a month, by which time I had resolved the issue – no fees or additional interest through multiple phone calls and emails.

      In other words, Elizabeth Warren’s constituent service is worse than Sallie Mae’s.

      Reply
    2. T

      The stupid Ponds cold cream lie is the worst. Unless she teed up the “how do you look so young!” question , the corrected answer is to point out the nonsense of talking about a candidates looks and addressing actual sexism.

      Instead she has a goofball answer about only using Ponds cold cream which lead to Derm pointing out her alleged method was not good advice and also pointing out that she appears to have used botex and fillers, which I don’t think people were talking about before then, in public.

      The most generous explanation is she was caught flat-footed and, once again, showed she has terrible instincts.

      Just a dumb dumb move.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        Warren’s remarkable, and I don’t mean it positively. And who’ve the corporatists
        really got on deck: Ms. Martial Law?

        ro khanna

        Reply
  11. Stefan

    If Bernie Sanders can get it through the thick noggin of the nation that he stands for and will implement the principles, policies, and values of the New Deal–the attitude that got us through the Great Depression and Wotld War II–he has every chance of being elected the next President of the United States.

    Reply
      1. Pat

        And hoping you get one day of rest before the vicious, wretched skullduggery of undermining the desires of the American people gets started. Obviously Sanders will make the Trump years look a cake walk. Anyone else (Democrat or Trump) we will see lots of ‘working for’ and ‘resistance’ type memes while largely doing nothing of the sort, but a whole lot of ‘bipartisan’ passage of terrible things.

        Reply
      2. Carey

        >all the vicious, wretched skullduggery of this year’s elections will finally be over.

        Kidding, right? I remember having similar, foolish thoughts on the night of 8 Nov 2016.. no, it’s a perma-cycle™ now, benefitting..?

        Reply
  12. Samuel Conner

    It sounds like Sanders, in the famous 2018 conversation, may have been trying to politely encourage EW to not run in 2020. Her moment was 2016 and she declined to run then when a Progressive candidate was needed. Her run in 2020 to some extent divides the Progressive vote. EW interpreted, perhaps intentionally, Sanders’ words to imply that he thinks “no woman can win in 2020”, and then weaponized them against him.

    The very fact that she is running at all suggests to me that she is not at heart a Progressive and in fact does not want a Progressive candidate to win. If she had run in 2016, Sanders would not have run in order to not divide the Progressive vote. EW knew that Sanders would run in 2020 and planned to run anyway. It is hard for me to not interpret this to be an intentional bid for some of the Progressive vote, in order to hold Sanders down.

    Reply
    1. Anon

      I agree. She decides to do things based on her own self-interest, and uses progressives as pawns to work her way up in DC. My guess is that Warren chickened out in 2016 and didn’t run because maybe she didn’t think she had a chance against the Clintons. When Warren saw how well Sanders did against Clinton, how close he was at winning, I think only then she decided that 2020 was a good chance for a progressive, or someone running as a progressive candidate, to win the nomination.

      She saw how Sanders had fired up loyal progressive support in the Democratic Party. She chickened out back then when she could have endorsed Bernie in ’16, but chose not to, probably hoping not to burn bridges with Clinton in order to get a plum role in her administration. Her non-endorsement in ’16 worries me because it shows once again that Warren makes decisions largely based on what is good for her career, not what she thinks is better for the country (if she really is the progressive she claims to be).

      Knowing that there was now a strong progressive base ready to vote for a candidate left of Democratic candidates like Biden and Clinton, Warren saw her entry into having a good chance at winning the presidency. Rather than thinking about the implications for Bernie and the possibility of dividing left-wing voters, her desire to become president was more important. Remember, this is exactly what Bernie did not do in 2016 when he urged Warren to run, and was willing to step aside, if she had agreed to do so.

      If I had been in Sanders position, I probably would have sat down and talked to Warren about the serious implications of the both of them running in 2020. How he had hoped to build on the momentum from his last campaign and the sexism that was used against Clinton in 2016. Hey, if I had been Sanders, I probably would have told Warren not to run. Not because she’s a woman, but because it would have been obvious to Bernie that with Warren running alongside him, they would both end up splitting the progressive vote.

      What is happening now between the two of them should have been no surprise to either Bernie or Warren. They are both popular among Democrats who identify as progressive or left-of-center. Democrats will always find a way to shoot themselves in the foot. And I agree that when it becomes evident that one of them cannot win, either Bernie or Warren must step aside for the good of the country and fully back the other. There is no other option if either of them truly wants the other to win the nomination rather than Biden. I’m hoping that Warren will do so since it is becoming more clear that Sanders is the stronger progressive and the stronger candidate who has a better chance at beating both Biden and Trump.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        >Democrats will always find a way to shoot themselves in the foot.

        Assuming it’s true: why would that be?

        invisible hand

        Reply
  13. landline

    If sheepdog St. Bernard Sanders begins to look like the presumptive nominee, look for a new candidate to throw her hat into the ring. Her name: Michelle Obama.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether

      > sheepdog St. Bernard Sanders

      I’m so sick of that sheepdog meme (originated by, much as a respect BAR, by a GP activist bitter, I would say, over many years of GP ineffectuality). The elites seem to be pretty nervous about a sheepdog.

      Reply
  14. Lee

    And now we have Sanders apologizing for an op-ed in the Guardian by Zephyr Teachout accusing Biden of corruption.

    The op-ed simply says what Sanders has said all along, the system is corrupted by big donors. Then she explicitly states the obvious, which Sanders won’t at this point say but that Trump certainly will: Biden is a prime example of serving his donors’ interests to the detriment of most of the rest of us. Sanders subsequently apologizes for Teachout’s baldly true assertion, stating that he doesn’t believe that Biden is corrupt.

    I guess we’re meant to draw a clear distinction between legalized and illegal corruption. I don’t know. They both look like ducks to me.

    Reply
    1. Samuel Conner

      I have read that Sanders is the #2 choice of many Iowans who favor JB; it makes a lot of sense for him to not “go negative” on JB in the run-up to the caucuses.

      There will be time for plainer speaking. Sanders has been clear about his views on the corrupting influence of corporate money in politics. JB is exhibit #1 within the D primary field and there will be plenty of opportunity to note that.

      I suspect that there is a great deal of “method” in what may look to us like “madness” in the Senator’s civility.

      Reply
      1. Samuel Conner

        To put it another way, I doubt very much that Sanders believes that JB’s legislative agendas were not significantly influenced by the sources of his campaign funds. And I’m sure that attention will be drawn to this at the right time.

        One can charitably affirm that one believes that JB is not a consciously corrupt, pay-for-play, kind of person, while also affirming that of course he has been influenced by the powerful interests that have funded his career, and that this has not served the interests of the American people. All in due course.

        Reply
    2. jrs

      The thing is Warren would make the right argument here: that it’s the system that is corrupted, and make it well. Too bad she has shown so completely that can’t be trusted as a person, because she often looks good on paper …

      Reply
      1. inode_buddha

        I think Warren misses the key point that the reason why the system is corrupted is because the players in it are corrupted. They can be bought and sold. That is why they have no shame.

        Reply
      2. Lambert Strether

        > The thing is Warren would make the right argument here: that it’s the system that is corrupted

        That’s not the right answer at all. The climate crisis, for example, is not caused by a lack of transparency in the oil industry. It is caused by capital allocation decisions by the billionaire class and their servicers in subaltern classes.

        Reply
  15. urblintz

    “The real game changer around here, though, might be Iowa State University’s decision, after years of pressure, to issue new student IDs, enabling 35,000 students to vote, even under Iowa’s restrictive new voter-ID law. That’s a progressive victory, and in a different media universe, it would be a story even juicier than a handshake.” Iowa is not the Twittersphere – Laura Flanders

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/01/21/iowa-is-not-the-twitterverse/

    Reply
  16. ptb

    Thanks for giving this the attention it needs, analysis of the primary has been too light on estimation of delegate numbers and strategy.

    Prior to Warren’s apparent turn to some new direction, the setup for a 3way DNC with a progressive “coalition” was not only conceivable, but actually expected from the polls.

    We are on pace for Sanders+Warren’s combined delegate total to exceed Biden by a healthy amount (say 4:3) with all others falling below 15% state by state and getting few or no delegates. Obviously subject to snowballing in either direction, but that’s the polls now and for most of the past year.

    Warren’s attack on Sanders, and NYT endorsement, say the national party doesn’t expect any such coalition. Therefore Warren has made her choice. That’s that.

    The path to winning the Dem primary is a little narrower for Sanders, and also for Biden, since he seems to lack the confidence of his the top strata. The DNC screws a lot up but they know how to read polls. I’m pretty sure that running Warren in the General is not their plan A.

    Voters in Iowa and the early states (incl. TX and CA) look like they will be deciding it all this year. The tremendous enthusiasm of Sanders followers gives him, IMO, the best ground game of the three. Will be an interesting 6 weeks.

    Reply
    1. jrs

      Running Warren in the general might be their plan A. They may not want to win. Of course they might rather have Klobuchar but …

      Reply
      1. Hepativore

        I do not even trust Warren to hand any delegates she gets to Sanders at this point. Because her campaign staff is so full of Clintonites and neoliberals, she might give them to Biden instead.

        She seems to have gone full establishment at this point.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether

          > I do not even trust Warren to hand any delegates she gets to Sanders at this point. Because her campaign staff is so full of Clintonites and neoliberals, she might give them to Biden instead.

          Correct.

          Reply
      2. ambrit

        The youngish rehab therapist, a woman, said this morning that of the women running, she likes Klobuchar. “If only her voice wasn’t so screechy. And I’m saying this as a woman.” She was seriously disturbed by Clinton’s attack on Sanders.
        Several neighbors are leaning towards Yang.

        Reply
      3. Carey

        Why, for Team Dem, would Klobuchar be better than Trump?

        #fightingFor works better against the latter, right?; since they don’t want to actually govern?

        Reply
  17. John k

    The value of her endorsement…
    My impression is her supporters are mostly older, mostly female, and mostly centrist. Many want to elect a female pres before they die. Prior to the she said event her supporters second choice were split fairly evenly between Bernie and Biden… but the latest fracas is driving her most progressive supporters to Bernie. This means most of those remaining will probably migrate to biden if when she drops out even if she recommends Bernie.
    (If 1/3 of her supporters that had Bernie as their second choice switch to bernie, then 60% of her remaining supporters have biden as their second choice.)
    2016 was different, Clinton already had the older females. But there was a period where just a little support might have tipped the scale in what was a very tight race.
    Anyway, I see going forward she will be mostly holding supporters whose second choice is biden even as she maybe doesn’t reach the 15% barrier…
    and same with Amy.
    so I hope they both stay in at least until super tue.
    And While I previously thought she was a reasonable choice for veep, I now realize she’d be an awful choice. Maybe treasury if she does endorse… which she will do if Bernie looks a winner.

    Reply
  18. worldblee

    How can anyone be surprised at the lack of trustworthiness from a politician who chose to endorse Clinton in 2016 rather than Bernie? Warren has been playing the DNC game for a long time now, which ideologically is in line with her lifelong Republican stance before changing to the more demographically favorable party when she was 47. She’s not progressive now, and never has been or will be.

    Reply
  19. John

    For what it’s worth…Just voted for Bernie in the Va primary. Saw a Bernie bumper sticker going in and going out of registrar’s office. I’m gonna be away on primary day. This is a hard core Republican county. The registrar said I was the first to vote. Go Bernie.

    Reply
  20. HH

    The self-fulfilling prophecy that Greens cannot win is on abundant display at NK. Many commenters say that they would vote Green as a last resort. Why not as a first choice? Climate change, nuclear war danger, and workplace disruption all are dealt with more competently by the Green party platform than by the Washington blob governing party duopoly.

    Why not vote Green?

    Reply
    1. Carey

      I did, mcVoting for Stein/Baraka in 2016, and have no confidence at all that my vote,
      and many others for the Greens were accurately counted. We were told that Stein/Baraka
      got 1.03% of the nationwide GE vote; I’m here to say that’s bullsh!t. From the gatekeepers’ POV, there was danger that the Greens would make the 5% threshold
      for Federal Matching Funds; my guess is that they / we did, but *hey, who counts the votes*?

      #monkeyWrench2020

      Reply

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