Now It’s Sanders vs. Biden

Bernie Sanders’ feud with Elizabeth Warren is well known, but I hadn’t realized that he is now battling with Joe Biden until I saw this column by the appalling Paul Krugman. He indicts Sanders for dishonest attacks on Biden relating to Social Security, and, like many other observers, notes the recurrent viciousness of the Sanders operation:

While the news media has been focused on the “spat” between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, something much more serious has been taking place between the Sanders campaign and Joe Biden. Not to sugarcoat it: The Sanders campaign has flat-out lied about things Biden said in 2018 about Social Security, and it has refused to admit the falsehood.

Briefly, Biden’s “sin” is that years ago, he went along with what Krugman calls the “Beltway consensus” that ever-increasing Social Security spending needed to be curbed. But that since-recanted apostasy pales in comparison with Sanders’ deception:

In 2018, Biden gave a speech attacking Paul Ryan, the then-speaker of the House, for wanting to cut taxes on the rich and pay for those tax cuts by cutting Social Security and Medicare. [Ed.: Speaking of dishonesty…] There was nothing in his remarks that should bother progressives.

However, a Sanders adviser recently circulated a snippet from the video of the event that made it appear that Biden was actually supporting Ryan’s position and calling for Social Security cuts. A few days later a newsletter from the Sanders campaign quoted Biden out of context and made the same claim.

The Sanders campaign has refused to back down:

[T]he Sanders campaign has doubled down. Rather than admitting that it smeared a rival, the campaign is going around claiming that Biden has a long record of trying to cut Social Security.

Most delicious is Krugman’s noticing the ugliness of the Bernie Sanders campaign:

There has always been an ugly edge to some of Sanders’ support, a faction of followers who denounce anyone raising questions about his positions — even Warren! — as a corrupt capitalist shill. Until now, however, you could argue that Sanders himself wasn’t responsible for the bad behavior of some of his supporters.

You can’t make that argument now. The dishonest smears and the doubling down on those smears are coming from the top of the Sanders campaign; even if they aren’t coming directly out of Sanders’ mouth, he could and should have stopped them. The fact that Sanders isn’t apologizing to Biden and replacing the people responsible says uncomfortable things about his character.

Actually, you can say a lot worse than that about Sanders’ character. But this civil war on the Left can only be good for the Republic.

And, as a bonus: Anita Hill in Iowa: Too late for Joe Biden to apologize. I would say it is too late for Anita Hill to expect anyone to take her seriously. But then, I’m not voting in the Iowa caucuses.