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The Question Bernie Is Never Asked

Plus: Why is Elizabeth Warren still acting like Bernie's wingman?
February 21, 2020
The Question Bernie Is Never Asked
ANSWER THE QUESTION. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

1. Questions

I want to unpack one aspect of the debate which has been driving me insane for the last 36 hours.

Bernie Sanders likes to beat up on people for various votes they’ve taken in the past: To support the Iraq war, for instance. Or to endorse George W. Bush.

Fair enough.

I suppose that if you want to draw terminal conclusions about a politician’s judgment for a vote made a decade ago using the assistance of contemporary hindsight, that’s fine.

But here is a thing that has literally never happened on a debate stage:

Someone, anyone, saying, “Senator Sanders, you campaigned for the Socialist Workers Party at a time when they were defending the Iranian hostage taking of American citizens. What does that say about your judgment?”

Or: “Senator Sanders, you supported the Nicaraguan revolutionary and dictator Daniel Ortega. You also supported the Cuban revolutionary and dictator Fidel Castro. Both of whom terrorized their people and worked aggressively against American interests. What does that say about your judgment?”

Or: “Senator Sanders, at a time when millions of political prisoners died at the hands of the Gulag Archipelago, you went to Russia for your honeymoon and came home praising the Soviet Union. What does that say about your judgment?”

If you want to argue that the crazy Marxist stuff Bernie believed 30 years ago doesn’t matter today, that’s fine. But he should have to make that argument out loud.

He shouldn’t just get a pass where no one even asks him about it at the same time that he’s casting aspersions on people for once holding views that were comparatively mainstream and even if they were mistaken, were several orders of magnitude less pernicious than the mistaken views Sanders once espoused.

The debate moderators were absolutely derelict in not asking Sanders about this when he brought up Bloomberg’s support of George W. Bush. And the other Democratic candidates were committing political malpractice.

If they lose to this guy, they will have gotten what they deserved.

2. Warren

And a quick aside about Elizabeth Warren, who is the Ted Cruz of this race.

In 2016, Ted Cruz got as close to Donald Trump as he could, on the assumption that Trump would eventually collapse and Cruz could pick up his supporters. We all know how that turned out.

Eventually, Cruz became Trump’s harshest critic. Cruz was so anti-Trump that he even went to the convention refusing to endorse Trump from the stage. He took a tremendous stand on bedrock principle. And five minutes after Trump won, Cruz chucked all of that and returned to being a remora fish swimming in Trump’s slipstream.

Warren’s strategic view of 2020 was even stupider than Cruz’s view of 2016.

She started out her campaign as a populist reformer. Then she discovered that there was no market for that role in this election. So she pivoted to being a progressive warrior. This was a fatal mistake because there is no way for an actual Big-D Democrat to outbid a socialist on progressivism. That is an auction you will always lose.

Warren was too dim to understand this and Sanders crushed her like a bug.

So now, when her campaign has no rationale for continuing, because she has no path to the nomination, she went into the Vegas debate and declined every single opportunity to criticize Sanders, and turned each of these invitations into attacks on the actual semi-viable real Democrats who still have a chance to stop Sanders.

For example, she has changed her Medicare for All plan because, as she now acknowledges, the Bernie-style M4A is unworkable. Asked last night what she thinks about Bernie’s plan, Warren criticized . . . Amy Klobuchar.

If Donald Trump defeats Bernie Sanders, then Elizabeth Warren will deserve a share of the blame. Because whether through foolishness or malice or narcissism, she has helped Bernie Sanders more than anyone else in this race.

3. Beer Man

The Athletic is one of those publications that is absolutely worth your $100 a year. Every single day there’s great sports coverage that isn’t fan-bleating, or content-farm churn, or stale wire-service copy. It’s smart, pointed writing for grown-ups who love sports and are able to pay for great sports writing.

And they manage to mix both serious, high-minded reporting and commentary with stuff like this: All 30 MLB stadiums ranked by the quality of their beer offerings. The top spot goes to Seattle, of course:

The craft beer scene in Seattle is in full bloom, and its ballpark has followed suit. Pacific Northwest labels Fremont Brewing, Reuben’s Brews, Georgetown Brewing, Bale Breaker, Black Raven Brewing, Ecliptic Brewing, Ninkasi Brewing, and even the smaller pFriem Family Brewers all have beers available at the ballpark. There’s a $6 (!) can deal every year, and one year it was a hazy IPA from Georgetown Brewing called Bodhizafa. Practically every food vendor has a craft tap, and there are cans in the aisles.

And not only does this place run on craft beer, but it also has a stand behind home plate (section 129) that boasts hard-to-find cask, barrel-aged and specialty beers on a rotating basis. The list of rare beer releases at that stand last year was enough to excite even the most “hardcore of beer geeks” as Washington Beer Blog put it. Whether you want a cheap can of a crushable IPA, something hazy and local on tap, or something hard to find — you’re not far from it in Seattle, which is the crown jewel of craft beer in baseball.

And the worst? Toronto. Read the whole thing

Jonathan V. Last

Jonathan V. Last is editor of The Bulwark.