I was bitterly critical of Bernie Sanders during his Quixotic and inept presidential run for two interconnected reasons. His domestic spending promises were simply bullshit because of his refusal to take on the Pentagon’s yearly bill, which consumes over 50 percent of the federal discretionary budget, and because he refused to burn down the Democratic Party house despite the blatantly obvious Clinton-orchestrated rigging dating to the very from start of the primaries.
Since the election, I’ve remained skeptical. Bernie really needs to pick up his game with regards to, well, everything. His healthcare bill has many flaws and it is quite obvious that he continues to fan the coals of a cult of personality to the detriment of the progressive movement.
I would also point out that the late Alexander Cockburn, who knew Sanders from his earliest mayoral campaigns in Burlington, described the senator as “the hot air machine from Vermont,” meaning Bernie’s M.O. was saying great things and doing little to back them up, even back in the ’80s.
Then on September 12 came Hillary Clinton’s execrable new book, “What Happened,” (which was brilliantly dissected by our friend Chris Lehmann at Baffler). The book is a monument to Clinton narcissism run amok, pointing fingers at everyone from Sanders to Vladimir Putin to Joe Biden (WTF?!). Images posted on Twitter of Clinton buying pizza for groupies camping overnight on the sidewalk outside a New York Barnes and Noble deeply disturbed my cold black soul, especially as one who has waited on sidewalks many times for much worthier outings: Harry Potter, Star Wars, and, to cite another example, my dog taking a dump.
And lo and behold, out came Uncle Bernie, as charming as gefilte fish and initially seemingly intent on functioning as a strange sort of cover band for the troupe of New Deal-Great Society Democrats that were dead and gone by the midpoint of Bill Clinton’s first term.
Instead he offered a mini-media blitzkrieg that cut to the heart of the matter and called out the American imperial project in all its largesse. At Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri (site of Churchill’s infamous Iron Curtain speech), he delivered a nearly hour-long speech about the nasty coups (i.e. Iran) that the U.S. has sponsored for decades, while saying that American foreign policy is pretty despicable. Say what?
Then came a conversation with Mehdi Hasan over at The Intercept where he said, “I consider [Saudi Arabia] to be an undemocratic country that has supported terrorism around the world, it has funded terrorism. … They are not an ally of the United States.” Come again?
Bernie’s remarks look to be a rebuttal to Clinton’s accusations in her memoir and further amount to an interesting critique of U.S. foreign policy.