When Sen. Bernie Sanders’ career is finally over, liberals will have trouble putting together two minutes of soaring rhetoric for the inevitable highlights clip.
That’s due to a dearth of material; Vermont’s rumpled Clarence Darrow impersonator will always come across to me as, to quote the very canceled Woody Allen, “one of those guys with saliva dribbling out of his mouth who wanders into a cafeteria with a shopping bag screaming about socialism.”
Sanders’ following has nothing to do with his charisma. Rather, he’s a high-ranking elected official who was willing to embrace far-left ideas before they became popular. He’s politics’ version of the person who begins camping out in front of Target for a Black Friday sale right after Halloween.
Meanwhile, conservatives would have had trouble putting together two minutes of Sanders’ long history of hypocrisy, but for a different reason. It’s like you have to convince one of Generation Z’s less well-read members about how great the Beatles were, but you can only put together a five-song playlist and you can’t bring in any of their history or show them clips from Ed Sullivan: How can you possibly sum up a career that way?
Do you show a clip of Sanders bashing the “1 percent” followed by drone footage of his three houses? Do you show him talking about intersectional privilege and intersperse it with his base, a bunch of fratty post-grad bros who all like Phish and could be plausibly named Dylan?
However, notice I said “would have had.” Thankfully, Sanders spoke on Night 1 of the virtual Democratic National Convention.
The convention being virtual, the participation trophy winner in the nomination sweepstakes was appearing via satellite from Vermont. My main takeaway from the speech was that Sanders wrote a lot of checks his supporters would expect Joe Biden to cash if he becomes president, which I’m sure must have led to some queasy stomachs inside Biden HQ.
I also cracked a bit of a smile at how Sanders’ speech wasted the Democrats’ outreach effort toward Republicans during the first evening, which featured a speech from former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a cantankerous NeverTrumper who was one of the last GOP opponents to concede to Trump during the 2016 primaries.
After being told why Republicans would be better off voting Democrat for part of the evening, those who stuck around with genuine interest were met with … Bernie Sanders, telling them how he would sign the country up for massive generational change.
However, the moment that was important from Sanders’ speech didn’t take place during the speech itself. It took place beforehand — something those watching the Democratic Party’s satellite feed were lucky enough to see.
It was two minutes of hypocrisy. See if you can spot why:
I still don’t know why they insisted on so many speeches being live — especially when Michelle Obama’s keynote and several other appearances were pre-taped — but it gave us this wonderful bit of Bernie Sanders that came through via satellite. pic.twitter.com/RrJ8yzmbPg
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) August 18, 2020
Now, I can tell you what you’re seeing and hearing: Sanders and his retinue, including his wife Jane, talking about his speech.
“Are my hands showing when I’m up here?” he asks. Yes, they are.
“Is that a terrible thing to have my hands showing?” Yes, it is.
“It’s not. It’s terrible. But what’s been good,” Jane says, “is you gesture.”
You see Sanders shooing his wife off screen, other prep work, that sort of thing.
You know what you don’t see on Bernie Sanders, though? A mask.
Aside from Jane Sanders, these aren’t people who Sanders lives with (at least one aide can be seen helping prep the Vermont socialist for his speech). They’re following his advice.
After all, this is the guy who proposed legislation that would send masks to every American courtesy of the U.S. government.
“The American people are with us. One recent poll found that 3 in 4 Americans — including 58% of Republicans — support requiring mask wearing outside the home. The majority of U.S. states, D.C., and Puerto Rico have passed mask mandates. It is only fair that the federal government now steps in to make these requirements as easy, effective and costless as possible for the American people,” he wrote in a USA Today opinion piece published Aug. 4.
“Given the urgency of the moment this bill should be passed as quickly as possible by being incorporated into major coronavirus legislation currently being negotiated. Providing high quality masks for all is an effective disease prevention tool that must be immediately implemented. Every day we delay, lives are needlessly lost.”
He quoted Centers for Disease Control head Dr. Robert Redfield: “If we could get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really do think over the next four, six to eight weeks we could bring this epidemic under control,” Redfield said.
Then there was Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s top COVID-19 expert: “There’s no doubt that wearing masks protects you and gets you to be protected. So it’s people protecting each other,” he said during congressional testimony.
“Anything that furthers the use of masks, whether it is giving out free masks or any other mechanism, I am thoroughly in favor of.”
Sanders wasn’t in the home. He gave this speech at a restaurant, according to The New York Times.
He was in close contact with other people, including hugging one of them. They were wearing masks.
All he had to do was wear one himself unless he needed to take it off — for makeup purposes, say. Then he could have taken it off as he was about to give the speech. It would have been the safe thing to do, right?
For two minutes, though, here was the reigning champion of telling people do what he says, not what he does. Overlay this with some footage of his houses, and you’re good to go.
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