Bernie Sanders simply isn’t ready to be president

Bernie Sanders had a disastrous, to quote the Washington Post, meeting with the New York Daily News editorial board yesterday (Monday).

In that interview, Sanders showed that he doesn’t have a deep grasp of the issues he’s made a mainstay of his campaign, such as banking reform. Faced with detailed questions about his own proposals, Sanders repeatedly told the editorial board “I don’t know” or he referred to the fact that he didn’t have his notes with him.

Sanders was excoriated today by Washington Post political analyst Chris Cillizza. First Cillizza, then a discussion about the larger problem this poses for a future Sanders presidency:

This New York Daily News interview was pretty close to a disaster for Bernie Sanders

For Sanders’s critics — including Hillary Clinton — the Daily News interview is the “ah ha!” moment that they have been insisting will come for Sanders, a time when his pie-in-the-sky proposals are closely examined and found wanting. Sure, free college tuition sounds good, but how, exactly, do you pay for it? And, yes, breaking up the biggest banks seems appealing — particularly if you saw “The Big Short” — but (a) can you actually do it? and (b) what does it mean for all the people those banks employ?

A large part of Sanders’s appeal to the throngs who back him is his insistence that we are in need of a political revolution. And, for those people, the Daily News interview will be much ado about nothing. But what the interview exposes is that once the revolution happens there will be lots of loose ends to tie up. Loose ends that Sanders either hasn’t — or doesn’t want to — grappled with….

The Daily News interview amounts to a moment of reckoning for Sanders. Okay, let’s say you get elected — now what? And have you thought through what it might mean to the American worker and the American economy if all of the things you insist have to happen actually did happen? Judging by Sanders’s responses, he hasn’t.

I’m reminded of another interview that Sanders had in February with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. Sanders’ notion of how his “revolution” will play out after the election, how he’s going to get Republicans on board, is simply naive. I’ll quote at length from the interview:

MATTHEWS: And Mitch McConnell looks at you the way he looked at President Obama and says, “Forget about it”.

SANDERS: And then you know what I say? I’d say, “Hey, Mitch, take a look out the window. There’s a million young people out there who don`t want to be in debt for half their life for the crime of going to college. If you
want to antagonize those million people and lose your job, Mitch, if you don’t want to lose your job, you better start listening to what we have to say.” That’s the point. That’s how change takes place.

MATTHEWS: But how do you squeeze a guy like him?

SANDERS: It’s not him. Mitch is –

MATTHEWS: All the Republicans.

SANDERS: I know Mitch McConnell. These are smart –

MATTHEWS: How do you squeeze 60 senators? You need 60 senators.  You need 60 senators.

SANDERS: All right. Let me tell you this. Absolutely, positively, 100 percent, if we rally young people in this country to say, you know what, Germany, Scandinavia, other countries, they have free tuition in public college and universities. I have been all over this country, Chris. I talked to kids $30,000, $40,000, $50,000, $100,000 in debt paying a huge percentage of their income, OK?

Young people stand up and say we are sick and tired of it. We don’t want to go in debt for our whole lives because we got a college education. You know what? We’ll win that fight immediately.

But the trick is not to appeal to Mitch McConnell. It’s to say, Mitch, take a look at your e-mails.

MATTHEWS: OK. What evidence do you have this has worked for you? Have you increased the turnout in these elections?


MATTHEWS: You know, have you as a senator been able to get 60 votes for anything? Have you ever been able to do this, what you`re talking about doing? When you say I can get 60 senators –


SANDERS: Well, I am not the president of –


SANDERS: What I am saying to you, Chris –

MATTHEWS: What evidence do you have you can do it?

SANDERS: What evidence do I have?

MATTHEWS: That you can do it.

SANDERS: The evidence that I have is that’s the only way change is about…

Bernie Sanders actually believes that Mitch McConnell is going to be swayed by the emails from a million young liberals. Ain’t gonna happen. (Though those million young libs will raise quite a bit of money for Sanders. But that’s not the definition of politically effective.)

There’s also the undercurrent in all of this that Sanders really believes the public wants to do what he wants to do, and it’s only our corporate overlords in Congress who are stopping the proletariat from getting what it wants. So if we can just let the people’s voices be heard, Congress will follow.

But what if the people aren’t with Bernie Sanders? What if people don’t want to see their taxes raised? What if the public starts to have concerns about implementing policies that even President Sanders himself doesn’t fully understand? Then what happens?

Not only does Sanders not fully understand his own proposals, but he doesn’t appear to know how to get them enacted into law.

For all appearances, Sanders is a decent, if angry, guy. But I don’t vote for “decent guys.” I vote for candidates who I think can accomplish an agenda I agree with, and at the very least thwart an agenda I disagree with. Bernie Sanders, recently ranked the most partisan member of the Senate, simply doesn’t have what it takes to get things done in Washington, especially as president.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis  — Win a pony! (not really)

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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