He was feisty, and energetic. By the way, he did NOT attack Liz Warren. Mostly everyone else did, however.
But Bernie's biggest challenge last night was to address the so-called elephant in the room. Namely, his age and his cardiovascular health.
In the ONE question he faced (and yes, I watched THREE hours of debate last night, OMG, how did I endure that?) he threw out two shiny objects and did NOT at all address concerns about his long-term health.
When asked about it by CNN anchor Erin Burnett, the first thing Bernie did was to launch into a response to a previous question. He said he'd get to Burnett's question after answering the other question.
But when he did get around to the health question, phrased as -- how will you reassure Democratic primary voters -- about the ongoing heart attack ramifications, his answer, awkwardly, had nothing to do with his health. Instead, he said he would have a rally in Queens with a special guest. That's it. No follow up. No clarification.
After the show ended, it came out that the special guest will be Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. A short time later, reports came that The Squad (AOC, along with fellow freshman Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar) would be endorsing Bernie for president.
Okay then. That will surely assuage fears and concerns in millions of voters' minds, right? A man who (hypothetically) will turn 80 before his first year as president, who had a heart attack while campaigning 14 months before the November 2020 general election.
Bernie has multitudes of devoted supporters. If they could keep him healthy, of course they would. But can they?
Bernie's not the first one to crusade for the Political Revolution. Twenty-eight years ago, Minnesota voters elected Paul Wellstone to the US Senate. Wellstone served well and courageously advocated for Progressive policies. Until his tragic death in 2002.
The Minnesota Senator's campaign may even have been the template that AOC followed to win her election to Congress.
I will not now tell you what Bernie will decide to do. I only will say that it's apparent that voters are thinking about it. The New York Times last week published this report, excerpted below.
Mr. Sanders is certainly not the first candidate whose presidential campaign was disrupted by a medical emergency. In 1999, former Senator Bill Bradley made an unexpected visit to a hospital in the San Francisco Bay Area for atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm abnormality, which he did not disclose until after the incident. After canceling a few events, Mr. Bradley, now 76, resumed his campaign, but he eventually dropped out of the race after losing the New Hampshire primary. A poll of New Hampshire voters revealed concern about how he had handled the disclosure of his health issue.
Still, Mr. Sanders’s case is unusual in many respects: He is a leading candidate recovering from a heart attack at age 78 who must compete in an intensely competitive primary while also holding down a demanding job as senator. Indeed, Mr. Sanders’s disruption comes amid increased pressure to bolster voter support with strong challenges from Mr. Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren, and it is unclear at what pace Mr. Sanders will carry on his campaign.
“Bernie will be scrutinized very carefully in the next month or two for his ability to come back and campaign as vigorously as he has done in the 2016 and current presidential campaigns,” said Ed Rollins, a former adviser to President Ronald Reagan. “He’ll be looked at a little differently” for things like being tired at the end of the day or stumbling in his delivery onstage, Mr. Rollins added.But he apparently will not be looked at differently by his diehard supporters.
Which leads into my next concern. Patricia Murphy, who has covered national politics for the Daily Beast, yesterday published on Rollcall about the recent Senate Intelligence Report on the Russian attack against the sovereignty of American voters in the 2016 presidential election.
Using techniques the KGB tried on Soviet citizens during the Cold War, the committee described the hallmarks of the Russian disinformation campaign in 2016, including messages to erode Americans’ trust in investigative and political journalists; an emphasis on speed to win the first impression of readers, which is always the most resilient; topics designed to exploit racial divisions; and a volume so enormous that overwhelmed audiences can no longer discern what’s real from what’s not. Finally, almost all of the information was deceptive, or as one committee witness called it, a “firehose of falsehood.”I'm concerned that the strident tone of Sanders' supporters means they are already primed to repeat the cycle we saw in 2016. Ms. Murphy called the Senate Intel Report the most important document you will ever read.
I hope Bernie reads it and considers the ramifications among his strident supporters.