Harry Jaffe is the editor at large for the Washingtonian Magazine, but in 1976, he was a young reporter working for the Rutland Herald in Vermont when he first encountered Bernie Sanders. At the time, Sanders was running as a third party candidate for the left wing Liberty Union Party in the state’s gubernatorial election that year. Jaffe has written an unauthorized biography, “Why Bernie Sanders Matters,” and spoke at length with Inside Sources’ Graham Vyse about the ten things he’s learned from following this self-described democratic socialist who has many Democrats “Feeling the Bern,” especially with Millennial voters.
Jaffe noted that he’s “a screamer and a table-banger” when it comes to his staff. “Abusive” and “a**hole” were some of the words used to describe how he treats his employees. There are some other stronger words, but you can read those in Vyse’s piece. Vyse did add that Sanders’ field director, Phil Fiermonte, said the senator just has high expectations. Nevertheless, with the recent datagate fiasco that almost saw the Sanders campaign taking the Democratic National Committee into federal court, one could only imagine the fury that was brought down upon the staffers (some of whom have been fired) who allegedly obtained some information about voter turnout in Iowa and New Hampshire from the Clinton database after exploiting a glitch in the system’s firewall.
At first, the Sanders campaign’s access to the DNC voter database, which could have cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost fundraising capability, and their own database that was built through volunteers, was revoked by Democratic Party officials. They have since restored access, though an investigation into the matter is ongoing.
Yet, given that fears of terrorism are now the highest since 9/11, Jaffe did mention that Sanders would not be a great commander in chief:
“Americans, while they may be interested in economics, also want to know that [presidential candidates] can be the commander in chief,” Jaffe said. “Bernie Sanders is a lousy commander in chief. He is not a trustworthy commander in chief to me. He is not somebody who thinks the military is the first order of business. Neither is Barack Obama — but that MF can use drones.”
Sanders is reportedly a pragmatist with his liberal politics, and that this version of him is far more mellow than what he was in his youth:
A pure-and-simple socialist believes in government control of the means of production, and that’s not what Bernie Sanders believes in,” Jaffe said. “He’s more of a liberal, more of leftist, more of a progressive and frankly more of a populist than anything else. If you look at him from that perspective, then I think he’s very electable. I think he is vulnerable to being pigeonholed as a doctrinaire Marxist socialist, and I think there’s a time when that would have fit, in his twenties, when he was part of [the Young Peoples Socialist League]. That was when he was a heck of a lot younger. Now I think he’s just on the very left side of the Democratic Party, very much within the mainstream of liberal Democratic politics.”
“He’s not a pure ideologue,” Jaffe said. “There’s definitely a limit to his application of socialism. Would he tell his director of the IRS to make sure American corporations paid taxes? Yes. Would he go out of his way to make sure that the wealth capitalist in this county paid their fair share of taxes? Yes. Would he nationalize their companies? No.”
What about skeletons?
“The religious conservatives are not going to be happy about the fact that he has a son out of wedlock,” Jaffe said in reference to Levi Sanders, the subject of “Bernie Sanders Has a Secret” in Politico Magazine.
He added that the elder Sanders had avoided the draft during the Vietnam War in a “very suspect” way.
“He was of age,” Jaffe said. “He didn’t dodge the draft, but I think it’s safe to say he avoided the draft. He filed for [conscientious objector status] on religious grounds, but there’s nothing in Judaism that says you can’t fight a war. The Israelites were pretty damn good at fighting.”
We’ll see what happens. If anything, I think Jaffe is right that Sanders is representative of the far left of the Democratic Party. He and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) represent the growing chorus of the Democratic base, which seeks to rag the party further from the left, and rid itself of the third-way politics that embodied the Clinton presidency. Unlike Clinton, Sanders, despite his far left roots, is authentic, which probably makes him appealing to a substantial part of the party, whereas Hillary is constantly pegged as being dishonest and untrustworthy. Nevertheless, Clinton seems to be recovering from a rather abysmal summer regarding questions over her private email system. She’s the frontrunner, but Jaffe adds that there is still a path for Sanders to win. Clinton may raise millions, but he noted that Sanders is “frugal,” and knows how to spend money strategically. Granted, this wouldn’t be the first time the Clinton machine was defeated by an insurgent candidate. That man is now president. Yet, I think this time around, we should get used to calling Clinton the 2016 nominee for the Democrats sooner rather than later.