Bernie bends Biden
When it comes to “fake news,” we had a whopper this week. Voters were informed that Bernie Sanders was dropping out of the Democratic presidential contest. Joe Biden only wishes it were so.
True, Mr. Sanders announced on Wednesday the “suspension” of his campaign, noting that he trailed Mr. Biden by some 300 delegates, and that no “honest assessment” showed a path to the nomination. The Vermont senator said he could not “in good conscience continue to mount a campaign that cannot win.”
Yet Mr. Sanders said he nonetheless would (and could in good conscience?) “stay on the ballot in all remaining states and continue to gather delegates,” so as to exert “significant influence” over the party. He also declined to promise he’ll help Mr. Biden get elected. He instead blandly noted that his rival was a “very decent man, who I will work with to move our progressive ideas forward.”
This isn’t an endorsement; it’s a threat. The Democratic Party is split, and Mr. Sanders is the undisputed leader of its progressive wing. He’s not conceding gracefully; he’s not rallying Democrats behind a nominee; he’s not going anywhere—not without extracting a significant show of fealty from Mr. Biden. Put another way, the man who was too radical to win the nomination is now determined to make Mr. Biden unelectable.
I didn’t think of it in terms of making Biden unelectable, but I noted that Sanders’ “dropping out of the race” was equivocal. He’s not done yet.