Sanders’ South Carolina Collapse May Mean Nothing for Pundits

Sanders - South CarolinaBefore the South Carolina primary, Real Clear Politics had him pegged at losing by 27.5 percentage points. Then the election took place and he lost by a staggering 47.5 percentage points. It doesn’t mean that his campaign is finished — there are other states where he stands to do better. But it looks very, very bad for him.

This should not come as a surprise. Early this month, I wrote, Could Sanders Win? Why Is Clinton Whining?! That article was the result of my research after New Hampshire. What I found was that Nevada was the only state Sanders had any chance at all and then Clinton totally dominated. So I wondered why people were freaking out.

Even granting that campaigns can get out of hand, Sanders never saw any movement in South Carolina. So the hysteria of Paul Krugman and Jonathan Chait seemed more like a reflection of the kind of people that they hang out with. What did they know of the voters of South Carolina? All they knew was that there they had upper class liberal friends who were very keen on Sanders. So the pundits freaked out because they feared it was the leading edge. These educated and affluent liberals were the tastemakers who all us poor nobodies would follow.

But in the name of protecting Clinton (who never needed his protection), he’s made the whole idea of universal healthcare seem like a pipe dream that could never happen here in America.

But I saw something in a recent Krugman post that made me think something else has been going on, How to Read Primary Results. He said, “Oh, and hold the Hillary-hatred and all that, OK?” He wanted to talk about something more general and didn’t want the Hillary-Sanders war to get in the middle of it. But it is telling that it is the Hillary-haters who were called out by name.

Is this really what this has been all about? I’ll admit, I know a lot of people who just don’t like Hillary Clinton. And by and large, it isn’t for real reasons. It’s more visceral than that. But you know how it goes: pretty much everything starts visceral and then gets lots of intellectual justifications to drop on top of it. But isn’t that the case with Bernie Sanders too?

And let’s face it: there might have been a whole lot more anti-Hillary nitwits on Twitter and Facebook. But if you turned on the cable news shows, you were much more likely to hear an anti-Bernie nitwit. I’m not suggesting that the people who so hated Sanders did so for the same reason. I think the hatred of Sanders was mostly like the early hatred of Trump by the Republican establishment: they just didn’t think that Sanders could win.

South Carolina Is Only the Beginning

The whole thing now strikes me as an exercise in nonsense. What Krugman did to Sanders’ universal healthcare proposal, he could have done to Obama’s plan. You will note that Obama, in the end, didn’t get the plan he campaigned on. But in the name of protecting Clinton (who never needed his protection), he’s made the whole idea of universal healthcare seem like a pipe dream that could never happen here in America.

After New Hampshire, I predicted what would happen — based on nothing but the polls. South Carolina went big for Clinton. On Super Tuesday, Sanders will win Vermont. He might squeak out a victory in Massachusetts, but I suspect that he will lose there too. But maybe we will still need more anti-Sanders articles, because you know: there will still be a lot of people on Facebook saying mean things about Clinton.

Anniversary Post: MASH and Pope Benedict End

MASHWhat do you want to hear? The last episode of MASH aired on this day in 1983. In general, I think that MASH got worse over time. The show never really recovered from the loss of McLean Stevenson. Potter just annoyed the hell out of me. And no offense to Mike Farrell, but the writers never managed to make “happily married man” thing work. Burns was always a bad character. In real life, that kind of chauvinism was very true of early 1950s America. But in the context of the series, he was impotent — he could never get the advantage over the leads. So in that way, the replacement of him with David Ogden Stiers was brilliant. And it was done in a way that was believable. But I’ll admit, the final episode did have its moments. But I think that was the last time I watched the final episode of anything. Because I just don’t care enough.

Pope Benedict XVIBut also, just three years ago, Pope Benedict XVI stepped down. You would have thought that by now he would have had the good taste to die. But I suspect that he didn’t step down because he was physically unable to do the job. I think he simply understood that he couldn’t manage the child rape situation. So they figured, “Let’s get a Jesuit — they’re known for not being quite so horrible as the other orders.” Anyway, he turns 89 in April. I don’t know what to think of the Catholic Church at this time. But then, I don’t know what to think of most institutions. And child rape seems to be something that is very common in all the major religions that have big taboos about sex.

So there you go: pick your poison. There’s the end of MASH and there’s the end of Pope Benedict XVI. I don’t think anyone was that upset at seeing them go.