11 February 2016 — FAIR
Sanders a Bourgeois Deviationist, Washington Post Declares
The day before the New Hampshire primary, the Washington Post (2/8/16) ran a column headlined:
Bernie Sanders Is No Revolutionary
—written by Dana Milbank, that noted expert on revolutionary movements.
“For a guy running against the establishment, Bernie Sanders sure seems to crave its approval,” wrote Milbank. “Sanders portrays himself as an iconoclast, an anti-politician. But he behaves in many ways like a conventional pol.”
Exhibit A for this supposedly conventional behavior:
In New Hampshire last week, the Democratic presidential candidate put out an ad touting his endorsements that gave the false impression that two local newspapers—the Nashua Telegraph and the Valley News—had endorsed him.
Actually, the ad clearly distinguishes between the endorsements it cites—using the word “endorsed” or “endorses” in narration and displaying an onscreen “Endorsed By” label—and the positive quotes from newspapers that didn’t formally endorse Sanders, which are prefaced by “declares” or “says” instead. (An earlier version of the ad, never broadcast and quickly pulled from YouTube, did label the newspaper quotes “Endorsed By”—a mistake, the campaign said.)
Milbank appears to be cribbing from FactCheck.org—or maybe great minds just think alike. FactCheck (2/4/16) wrote that the ad “misappropriates the credibility of two New Hampshire newspapers” and “leaves the misleading impression that the Nashua Telegraph and the Valley News endorsed him.” It’s a shabby trick of pseudo-factcheckers to put words in someone’s mouth and then declare those words to be false.
As another example of how Sanders’ actions are not those of a revolutionary, Milbank notes:
Sanders has often boasted that he doesn’t have a super PAC. But, as the Post’s Matea Gold has noted, an ad hoc network working to elect Sanders “is also employing professional political tactics, such as the use of entities that can raise and spend unlimited sums.”
If you follow that link, you find an important caveat in Gold’s story:
Although these entities can accept massive checks from individuals and corporations—a practice Sanders abhors—they do not appear to be doing so, relying instead on small donations from grass-roots supporters.
A few short weeks ago, Milbank (1/26/16) was professing to “adore Bernie Sanders,” and to “share his outrage over inequality and corporate abuses.” That must have come as a surprise to longtime readers of his columns, who remembered him redbaiting the Progressive Caucus, mocking left-wing critics of Obama (whom he portrayed as “their spiritual leader”) and accusing Elizabeth Warren of launching a “left-wing analogue to the Tea Party” to go after Democrats who are “inadequately doctrinaire.”
Despite his newly proclaimed radical sympathies, however, Milbank still wrote in his January piece that “Democrats would be insane to nominate” Sanders as their presidential candidate. Why? Because he’s a democratic socialist, basically:
I doubt Democrats will make an anti-immigrant bigot the president by nominating a socialist to run against him…. He embraces the “socialist” label…. Republicans will…portray Sanders as one who wants the government to own and control major industries and the means of production and distribution of goods…. Socialists don’t win national elections in the United States…. Are Democrats ready to accept ownership of socialism, massive tax increases and a dramatic expansion of government? If so, they will lose.
Of course, that was last month, before Sanders nearly tied Hillary Clinton in Iowa and beat her by 22 percentage points in New Hampshire—which clearly has Milbank worried that maybe Democrats are insane enough to nominate a socialist, after all. So now Sanders’ problem isn’t that he’s too radical; it’s that he’s not radical enough.
Whatever works, eh, Comrade Milbank?
Jim Naureckas is the editor of FAIR.org. Follow him on Twitter: @JNaureckas.
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