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November 17, 2013 5:17 PM Bernie 2016! (Sunday Evening Grab Bag/Final Thoughts of the Weekend)

By Samuel Knight

*Unlike Elizabeth Warren, who said she isn’t running for President in 2016 despite the recent tsunami of ink practically begging for her to do so, Bernie Sanders hasn’t ruled out a progressive candidacy.

Via Friday’s Burlington Free Press:

“There are people in this world who, ever since they were 12 years of age, they decided they wanted to be president of the United States,” Sanders said.

“That is honestly not me,” he continued. “Anyone who really, really wants to be president is slightly crazy because this is an unbelievably difficult job given the crises that this country faces today.”
Still, Sanders says he is willing to consider making a run if no one else with progressive views similar to his ends up taking the plunge.
It is essential, he said, to have someone in the 2016 presidential campaign who is willing to take on Wall Street, address the “collapse” of the middle class, tackle the spread of poverty and fiercely oppose cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
Also, addressing global warming needs to be a top priority, not an afterthought, Sanders said.
“Under normal times, it’s fine, you have a moderate Democrat running, a moderate Republican running,” Sanders said. “These are not normal times. The United States right now is in the middle of a severe crisis and you have to call it what it is.”

Yes. This.

Beg Bernie to run, people. Protest outside of his house. #OccupyBernieSanders.

Some might think he’s too left wing, but his distance from the Democratic Party brand and his economic populism could resonate with an electorate that is far more left wing on economic issues than it realizes. The Democratic Party, as Sanders pointed out in a Playboy interview, doesn’t seem keen on awakening this lumbering progressivism in America:

I go to the Democratic caucuses every week, and every week there is a report about fund-raising—Republicans have raised thus and thus; this is what we have done. In the six years I’ve been going to those meetings, I have never heard five minutes of discussion about organizing. It’s about raising money. Not five minutes to say, “Look, West Virginia, we have rallies, we’re doing this, we’re doing that, we’re knocking on doors.” In six years, I have heard no discussion about that at all.

His message is one that does seem to have some sort of universal appeal, too. He did, after all, manage to get 9,000 more votes (about 4% more) than President Obama in crunchy Vermont in 2012.

Rumors of his campaign have also been fueled by a pretty bad-ass trip he took down south—one that represents the giant middle finger to Ronald Reagan that this country’s left wing has needed to give since Bill Clinton drank the laissez-faire kool aide:

But that’s what Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., did on Oct. 17, kicking off a three-day speaking tour of four Southern states, a trip that has since stirred talk he might run for president in 2016.
“They enjoyed the fact he didn’t just stand and lecture them,” Kellie Penson, a school official, said of the students who heard Sanders speak. “He actually interacted with them and let them ask questions. He didn’t just talk down to them.”
Sanders had a reason for making Philadephia, Miss., the first stop on his visit to the South, he said in an interview this week.
The town made headlines in 1964 when members of the Ku Klux Klan killed three civil rights workers. In 1980, Ronald Reagan chose to make the town the site of his first campaign appearance after winning the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.
“That’s the reason why I wanted to go there,” Sanders said Friday, referring to Reagan’s visit.

Run Bernie, Run.


*In the New Yorker, Laura Secor writes that hawks opposing a give-and-take with Iran will only make the possibility of war more likely [SK: perhaps their optimal outcome]—and that airstrikes on Iranian nuclear facilities will basically guarantee that the Islamic Republic builds a bomb in the long run.

She goes into detail about how the Iranians are showing a genuine willingness to cooperate on this issue (even conservatives; possibly because they’re worried about the rise of Sunni extremism in the region):

…last Thursday, the International Atomic Energy Agency announced that Iran has not expanded its nuclear program since August, when President Hassan Rouhani took office…Rouhani has committed himself to finding a quick resolution to the impasse, and the cumbersome, fractious machinery of the Iranian state has backed him with an unusual unity of purpose. The tone of the Iranian negotiating team is businesslike and frankly urgent. Gone are the grandiose diatribes and the repetitive talking points of the Ahmadinejad years. In their place is what the Iranian President, sounding like a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, calls “constructive engagement,” and the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, sounding more like a member of a yoga collective, calls “heroic flexibility.”

That’s more than the open-mindedness on the issue that chickenhawks in Congress are demonstrating. Sen. Kirk disgraced himself by making racist remarks about Iranians this week. Once again, Republicans have managed to make the Iranian theocrats look more humane.


*A wave of intense thunderstorms and tornadoes swept across the Midwest earlier today, doing horrific damage to communities in Illinois.

Via CBS News:

The central Illinois community of Washington appears particularly hard-hit. A state official says emergency crews raced to the area amid reports that people were trapped in buildings. But Patti Thompson of the Illinois Department of Emergency Management says communications are spotty and it’s difficult to get information from the scene.
The National Weather Service says tornadoes touched down in East Peoria, Washington, Metamora, Morton and other Illinois communities. Officials couldn’t say whether it was one tornado touching down or several.

*The storms also delayed the start of the Bears-Ravens game—a postponement that saw fans ordered to shelter in place. While this is hardly anything worth batting an eyelid for in light of the destruction caused by the storm, I share this with readers because of a lighthearted anecdote: a Ravens fan decided to defy the order and then some by running onto Soldier Field. He made a sweet cut to the outside to evade one security guard’s tackle (the video cuts out before he was apprehended).


It was a pleasure as always. Ed is back tomorrow.

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.

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