Peter Shumlin, the former governor of Vermont and a Democrat, had this to say about Bernie Sanders, his fellow Vermonter:
What I’ve seen in Bernie’s politics is he and his team feel they’re holier than the rest. In the end, they will play dirty because they think that they pass a purity test that Republicans and most Democrats don’t pass.
What you’re seeing now is, in the end, even if he considers you a friend, like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie will come first. That’s the pattern we’ve seen over the years in Vermont, and that’s what we are seeing now nationally.
Shumlin also accused Sanders of trying to “Hillarize” Elizabeth Warren. There’s only one Hillary Clinton, but Warren — through her dishonesty and hedging on key issues — hasn’t been doing a bad job of “Hillarizing” herself.
There are two ways of looking at Shumlin’s remarks. They can be viewed as a fair assessment from someone who has watched Sanders up close over the years, or they can be viewed as another cheap shot at the Vermont socialist from the Democratic establishment.
I have little doubt that Sanders and his team consider themselves holier and more pure than Republicans and most Democrats. And my experience with the left is consistent with Shumlin’s view that this sense of purity provides an easy excuse for utilizing deplorable tactics (though many political campaigns require no such excuse).
In addition, the dustup over that anti-Warren script supports Shumlin’s view. The problem isn’t so much that Sanders’s people called out Warren as, in essence, an elitist who can’t expand the Democratic base. There’s nothing wrong with criticizing an opponent, and the Sanders critique had a basis in fact.
The problem was that Sanders didn’t own the script. Instead, he made a mealymouthed statement about his campaign having hundreds of employees and sometimes people saying things they shouldn’t say.
Even so, there’s no doubt that Sanders has been more sinned against than sinning when it comes to the Democratic establishment and its media adjuncts. CNN’s shameless performance during Tuesday night’s debate and its aftermath is only the latest example.
But we shouldn’t let this phenomenon divert our attention from the fact that Sanders would be a disastrous president — considerably worse than any of the other serious Democratic contenders. To a greater degree than even Warren, Sanders hates the foundations of our country and, probably in part for that reason, is deeply sympathetic to our enemies. He despises our system of free enterprise and has little regard for many of our basic freedoms.
Sanders claims to be a democratic socialist. That, in itself, places him somewhat to the left of even Warren. But Sanders is worse than a democratic socialist.
The democratic socialists I knew were anti-communists. They were deeply hostile towards the Soviet Union.
Sanders had a friendly view of the Soviet Union where he honeymooned in 1988. The Soviet system was collapsing before his eyes, and he was told by local officials that it was collapsing. Yet he praised it — not just while he was there, but upon his return.
Shortly thereafter, Sanders repeated this performance in a trip to Cuba. He couldn’t get enough of communist dictatorships.
I’ve seen little evidence that Sanders’s sympathy towards communism has abated. And it’s clear that his contempt for free enterprise and for America has not.
As I write about the Democratic presidential campaign, I will continue, as best I can, to call the disputes between Sanders and his rivals (plus their establishment backers) objectively. Sometimes, maybe most of the time, the equities will favor Sanders.
However, I have no sympathy for Sanders, and would hate to see him get the Democratic nomination.