Feb 20 2020

The Grand Bargaineers

Damn right we want a Revolution. As Atrios puts it (a bit more colorfully than I) not cutting the Entitlements you’ve been paying for your whole life in order to give the money to Billionaires is Revolutionary!

Lennon was being sincere. I think it an ironic reminder of a better time.

The Hidden History of Sanders’s Plot to Primary Obama
by Edward-Isaac Dovere, The Atlantic
February 19, 2020

Bernie Sanders got so close to running a primary challenge to President Barack Obama that Senator Harry Reid had to intervene to stop him.

It took Reid two conversations over the summer of 2011 to get Sanders to scrap the idea, according to multiple people who remember the incident, which has not been previously reported.

That summer, Sanders privately discussed a potential primary challenge to Obama with several people, including Patrick Leahy, his fellow Vermont senator. Leahy, alarmed, warned Jim Messina, Obama’s presidential reelection-campaign manager. Obama’s campaign team was “absolutely panicked” by Leahy’s report, Messina told me, since “every president who has gotten a real primary has lost a general [election].”

David Plouffe, another Obama strategist, confirmed Messina’s account, as did another person familiar with what happened. (A spokesman for Leahy did not comment when asked several times about his role in the incident.)

Messina called Reid, then the Senate majority leader, who had built a strong relationship with Sanders but was also fiercely defensive of Obama. What could you be thinking? Reid asked Sanders, according to multiple people who remember the conversations. You need to stop.

Sanders didn’t end up running against Obama. But their relationship didn’t improve in the years that followed. In another incident, in 2013, Sanders laid into Obama in a private meeting he held with Democratic senators, saying that the president was selling out to Republicans over Social Security benefits.

“There are millions of Americans who are deeply disappointed in the president—who believe that, with regard to Social Security and a number of other issues, he said one thing as a candidate and is doing something very much else as a president; who cannot believe how weak he has been, for whatever reason, in negotiating with Republicans; and there’s deep disappointment.” He continued: “It would be a good idea if President Obama faced some primary opposition.”

That was not the only time Sanders raised the idea publicly. Appearing on C-SPAN a few weeks later, he expanded on the point: “They want the president to stand up for the middle class, for the working class of this country, and they want him to take on big-money interests in a way that he has not done up to this point.”

On the rare occasions Obama White House staff thought about Sanders, it was because he was needling or annoying them, several former Obama aides recalled. Before Sanders started running for president, he had never been to see Obama in the Oval Office. And even though most of them didn’t know how far Sanders’s primary plans had gone, Obama aides took notice of his public comments. Today, the bitterness lingers.

“It’s not to say they had a bad relationship when Obama got to the White House,” one person who worked for Obama in the West Wing told me. “It’s just that they didn’t have a relationship.”

Obama and his circle tend to see Sanders’s You’re with us or you’re wrong approach as unworkable and the criticism of his own record as president overrepresented on Twitter (Obama’s approval rating among Democrats is consistently in the 90s).

The low point between the two men was a 2013 meeting with other Democratic senators. Obama had just put a chained Consumer Price Index in his budget, a proposal that would cut Social Security benefits by tying them to the rate of inflation. Many Senate Democrats were angry about it. But when they arrived for the meeting, it was Sanders who bubbled up, ripping into Obama for giving in to Republicans and not understanding the impact of the cuts.

“I don’t need a lecture,” Obama told him, according to several senators who attended the meeting.

Sanders proceeded to give him one anyway. A number of the senators there were struck by what they told me seemed like a lack of respect.

“Obama fairly forcefully pushed back and said, ‘That’s just not right—that’s not a vision that’s enactable or possible,’” one senator in the room recalled, asking for anonymity to discuss the private meeting. “‘You’re acting like I’m the enemy.’ Obama was trying to say, ‘I hear you that you want this revolution, but explain to me, how’s this going to happen? Look at the current makeup of the Senate and the House. How am I supposed to lead?’” Obama said, in this senator’s memory. The conversation quickly got testy. “It seemed the match of someone who prided himself on his cool intellect and removed analysis versus someone who was convinced with absolute ferocity with the rightness of his worldview and is not given to accepting anything from those who don’t agree with it.”

“I just remember thinking, Whoa, Bernie’s got game,” a second senator who was in the room told me. “I also remember thinking, There’s no love lost between them.”

In the end, most of the caucus took the position that Sanders voiced, opposing the chained Consumer Price Index, and Obama relented and dropped the idea.

Real Liberals cut Social Programs so they don’t have to cut them. If that makes any kind of sense to you I think I’d go in for an evaluation