WASHINGTON – What was it all about, Bernie? It can be set to the Burt Bacharach/Hal David tune made famous by Dionne Warwick, who sang: “What’s it All About, Alfie.”
One line in the song offered “Something even non-believers can believe in.”
The platform proposed by democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders served up generous slices of “Something … (to) believe in” to millions of young voters, and their elders deathly sick of the terminally corrupted machine politics of Washington.
The guts of the Sanders campaign to revive old Democratic Party ideals died with a whimper in two stages. First, the hand-picked platform committee, dominated by the municipal employees unions, killed off his key proposal on international trade.
Then Hillary Rodham Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, graciously accepted Sanders’ endorsement at an event in New Hampshire – something party regulars, corporate lobbyists and her allies in the media had been demanding for weeks.
The Sanders’ platform language would have specifically called on Democratic members of Congress to vote against the still-secret Trans-Pacific Partnership.
For reasons that defy Democratic Party tradition, President Obama has embraced the 12-nation free-trade pact, but quietly.
Spokesmen for the U.S. Business Council and the Alliance for American Manufacturing have said TTP would cost manufacturing jobs. It would make it harder for African-Americans to gain entry-level employment.
A Wall Street Journal account of the platform committee meeting implied the president has made acceptance of TTP a matter of party discipline – an astonishing move, if true, for a platform designed for his successor’s presidency.
The Journal reported that Veronica Turner, a platform committee member and Clinton backer, said, “I thought it was important not to embarrass President Obama” by passing a Sanders plank opposing TTP outright.
Clinton once praised TTP as “the gold standard” of trade deals.
After Sanders began calling TTP evidence of collusion between Democratic regulars and the “one percenters” and globalist job killers, she softened her support and said the treaty had problems that needed repairing.
Instead of backing Sanders, the committee adopted language ensuring that the interests of American workers would be in any trade bill, bromides that have been in all the Democratic platforms when President Bill Clinton backed all three of his “free-trade” initiatives in the 1990s.
Similar balm or soft talk was applied by the committee to Sanders’ proposals for free tuition for public colleges and a taxation system that would provide free health care, surgery and hospital stays for every American.
Democratic insiders (translate “lobbyists”) have disparaged both ideas as impractical. Yet, President Harry S Truman proposed government-paid universal health care, and even private college tuition was kept nominal in postwar years because it was free for veterans. The Journal quoted Sanders as saying he and Clinton were moving closer together. Sure. U.S. News reported Sanders mentioned Clinton only once in a 23-minute speech on Wednesday to a Hispanic interest group. Other accounts said he didn’t mention her at all.
So the Sanders voters – looking for “something to believe in” – have the choice of Clinton or Donald Trump.
Obstruction, Democrat-style, Part II. Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York joined other Democrats in supporting a filibuster blocking legislation to spend $1.1 billion to combat the spread of the dreaded Zika virus. The bill also contained a clause impairing President Obama’s plan to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.