At Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall says that the current state of the Sanders campaign reflects the active, willful priorities of its figurehead:
(T)his is coming from Bernie Sanders. It’s not Weaver. It’s not driven by people around him. It’s right from him. And what I understand from knowledgable sources is that in the last few weeks anyone who was trying to rein it in has basically stopped trying and just decided to let Bernie be Bernie.
Sanders speech tonight was right in line with his statement out this afternoon. He identified the Democratic party as an essentially corrupt, moribund institution which is now on notice that it must let ‘the people’ in. What about the coalitions Barack Obama built in 2008 and 2012, the biggest and most diverse presidential coalitions ever constructed?
Sanders narrative today has essentially been that he is political legitimacy. The Democratic party needs to realize that. This, as I said earlier, is the problem with lying to your supporters. Sanders is telling his supporters that he can still win, which he can’t. He’s suggesting that the win is being stolen by a corrupt establishment, an impression which will be validated when his phony prediction turns out not to be true. Lying like this sets you up for stuff like happened over the weekend in Nevada.
We may now dispense with such pleasantries as “not all Bernie supporters” etcetera. As I said last night, I am angriest about Sanders manipulating the hearts and minds of his supporters with false hopes, raising unrealistic expectations that he cannot meet, then blaming the failure on a conspiracy. That is unfair to the good people who support him, and more’s the shame on Sanders.
I won’t belabor the details of what happened in Nevada on Saturday, though they are instructive. Wonkette did a brilliant take on that mess, which was clearly orchestrated and encouraged by the Sanders campaign — but with the irony that they forgot to organize enough delegates to actually show up to the state convention. This may be why the campaign invented a silly story about 64 delegates supposedly being locked out; petitions and objections to the rule against using megaphones inside the convention hall are a smokescreen for the poor organizing that left a winning number of delegates at home, having either failed to register or complete their application or show up to the venue.
Encouraged from the very top, Sanders supporters have taken out their frustration and confusion and disorganization by shouting insults and curses, making death threats, and other demonstrations of vile stupidity.
Seriously, if you’re trying to support Sanders by threatening Darcy Burner then you are doing politics wrong pic.twitter.com/kxA2HReBcq
— Matt Osborne (@OsborneInk) May 18, 2016
This counter-productive campaigning has been going on under the radar for weeks: superdelegates became the enemies of democracy until Sanders needed them to flip to his cause, and in the meantime his supporters were still contacting superdelegates with angry threats, intimidating some to silence but not actually winning any to his side. (In fact, Sanders just lost a superdelegate to Hillary in the Virgin Islands.) And in Los Angeles one week before Nevada, Berniacs turned the exit-way of a Clinton rally into a gantlet of screaming harassment and abuse, yet the images of crying children received little media attention.
Indeed, it is good to see Marshall weigh in, because until now liberal voices have mostly given Sanders a free pass on this deepening state of rage. That urge to avoid confrontation is strong in Charlie Pierce, who still doesn’t want to get into the details of what happened Saturday even if he’s ready to acknowledge the Sanders campaign is off the rails. More media figures who wear their progressivism on their sleeves need to acknowledge that Sanders is not losing to the manipulations of a sinister cabal — and admit that he just isn’t winning enough voters in Democratic primaries. Sure, let’s have every vote count all the way to California, but someone needs to tell Sanders to lose with grace, because no one around him is doing so.
Asked about the incident in Las Vegas as he arrived in Puerto Rico on Monday, Sen. Sanders walked away from the reporter. Later, he issued a statement that justified the unruly mob and confirms everything Marshall says about this inchoate nonsense coming “from the top.” If Democrats don’t see Bernie Sanders as presidential material, there’s probably a good reason for it.