If one of these two quarrels is going to metastasize into something ugly, it’ll be Sanders, who remains apart from the party whose nomination he’s running for.
Donald Trump told his rapt audience in Orlando Tuesday night that the Democrats “want to destroy you.”
The next day, the Democrats started doing some destroying, all right. But of each other.
It started with Joe Biden’s totally bizarre comments about how they all used to get along with racists in the Senate, which brought a number of well-deserved smackdowns on Wednesday, the best by far from Cory Booker: “You don’t joke about calling black men ‘boys.’ … Vice President Biden’s relationships with proud segregationists are not the model for how we make America a safer and more inclusive place for black people, and for everyone. I’m disappointed that he hasn’t issued an immediate apology for the pain his words are dredging up for many Americans. He should.”
Then, later the same day, Bernie Sanders’ campaign seized on a Politico reportfrom Charleston, S.C., where the centrist group Third Way was having a conclave, which said that the group was learning to like Elizabeth Warren. “The cat is out of the bag. The corporate wing of the Democratic Party is publicly ‘anybody but Bernie,’” Sanders wrote on Twitter.
Is there any bigger lesson in these dustups? To some extent, yes. They reflect divides within the party that everyone is going to have to take care not to let get out of control lest they help make it easier for Trump to win a second term.
On the Biden-Booker front, on one level this was just another Biden malapropism. He’s made them his whole career, and there was no reason to think he was going to stop making them now.
This one alone probably isn’t a killer. His campaign is already arguing what he meant to say and in the coming days, he’ll apologize, or make a self-deprecating joke, and rehearse the positive parts of his civil rights record and have black supporters come out attest to their conviction that though he may misspeak here and there, they have no doubt his heart is in the right place. And if it really looks like it’s dinging him, he may have to use that Obama lifeline far earlier in the game than planned.
But it also showed how out-of-date his idea of acceptable rhetoric is in today’s Democratic Party. Someone is going to have to sit that guy down and tell him how to communicate in this day and age. And that he should never talk about the past. It only reminds people of his record (the bad parts) and his age. The kind interpretation of his remarks would be that he was trying to say we had horrible sonsabitches back then, too, but somehow we found ways to compromise, but what came across was a long, long way from that.
FLASHBACK: The Coming Democrat Civil War.