- - Thursday, June 9, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

A year ago the chattering class was in unanimous agreement that Donald Trump’s candidacy was a joke, and a bad one, ameliorated by the “fact” that there was no way he could win the Republican nomination. The smart guys were just as convinced that Hillary Clinton would dispatch her challengers early to get ready for her coronation in Philadelphia. She would have the whole summer to choose the new curtains for the White House and get china and silver worthy of the dishes she wants to set before hungry guests from Wall Street.

When it became clear that the Donald had blown everyone away and was the last man standing in Republican ranks, the pundits and other “experts” said they hadn’t been wrong, exactly. (They never are, just ask them.) But the Republicans could look forward only to a contentious and damaging convention that would make it easy for Hillary to win in November. All she had to do, after all, was first defeat an aging, cantankerous Socialist and then she could lead a united Democratic Party back to Pennsylvania Avenue. Under her command, the party would take back control of the Senate and maybe even make a run at the Republican majority in the House.

Bernie Sanders proved to be the tenacious campaigner who wouldn’t give up. Moreover, he and his backers understood that the game had been rigged from the start, and this made the fight fiercer and more interesting. It turned out that the paranoia was justified, the game indeed was rigged. The Democratic establishment was in the tank for Hillary. The conspiracy was real, and Bernie was doomed to fight a losing game, however spirited he made it.

Losers and their devoted followers always feel they’ve been cheated, and sometimes they’re right. Bernie had the advantage, insufficient as it turned out to be, of running against the worst candidate a Hollywood scriptwriter could imagine. President Obama made it to the Oval Office because he had the unexpected good fortune of catching the Clinton machine unaware. The Clintons underestimated the appeal of a black candidate to a nation of goodwill, and eager to prove it, eight years ago. His message of hope and change was appealing, indeed. He would eliminate the divide between the races and there would be peace at last in valley and on mountain top. Hillary was outclassed at every turn, proving that the political smarts in the family were all Bubba’s.

The passage of the years, practice, experience and advancing age have done nothing to make the lady more appealing. Her $12,000 designer pants suits can only cover so much. She may be less than she was when Mr. Obama took her measure eight years ago. The Clintons and their loyalists were forewarned, and jiggered the rules again, collected millions from rich donors, some of them loyal to foreign governments as well, eager to buy a piece of a president. Those who refused to buy a seat on the Clinton wagon were told they risked their future by withholding their cash and goodwill. The goodwill could be synthetic, but not the cash.

President Obama called Bernie to the White House Thursday to convince him that he has no further chance and to urge him, for the sake of the splintered party, to go home. A president can always make a persuasive case, but the fighter from Vermont leads a movement that lionizes him, and, like all movements that feed on red meat, is capable of turning on even a lion if the movement smells a sell-out. Giving up his quixotic quest will come at a high cost, and a man who doesn’t yield easily to bullying knows that well. We suspect he will not go eagerly into that bad night. The summer that is expected to be long and hot is only beginning.

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