Bernie the Red

Paul Greenberg
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Posted: Mar 22, 2016 12:01 AM
Bernie the Red

Everybody wants to be a genuine, hotshot, dyed-in-the-red rebel these unsettled and unsettling days, just as they once wanted to be Reds in the worst way, and succeeded. For sad example, John Reed of Portland, Ore., he of "Ten Days that Shook the World" fame. But that was before he fell victim to cholera and passing fashion in a still newly Bolshevik Russia.

Who would ever have suspected that Mr. Reed was raised in his grandmother's stately mansion, where he was attended by a whole retinue of Chinese servants? Our upper classes even then yearned to be lower. He did not succeed even at that low endeavor as he set off phony-detection devices from Moscow to points east.

Now we're supposed to take dear old Bernie Sanders seriously as the radical alternative to a dowdy Hillary Rodham Clinton in her early-to-late middle-aged doldrums. Please. Spare us.

Bernie is only a familiar type out of Brooklyn: the street-corner orator who's taken more by his own inflated biography than any talent he may ever have displayed. For it takes more than deploring an occasional Donald Trump to turn a sow's ear into a brave leader defying all convention. He'll revert to Lone Ranger type soon enough once the style is passe.

Being a less than enthusiastic Marxist-Leninist just doesn't have the cachet it once did in radical circles or any others. Eric Hoffer, dock worker and real thinker, summed up Bernie's sort: "A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people's business."

What dear old Bernie is, besides Vermont's most successful export since Ben & Jerry's sold out to Unilever, is just one more superannuated gust of wind and braggadocio. The advance guard of the Revolution? He's more like the rear guard of the establishment. Or as one observer put it, he's a cult of personality masquerading as an earnest attempt to further the class struggle, which was always about more about class than struggle.

Snide Bernie may be, as when he wrote of a former speaker of the House -- the always Hon. John Boehner -- that he "threatened to kill himself if a minimum-wage increase was passed. He didn't. Where is Republican honor when you really need it?"

Bernie is a dedicated civil libertarian, all right -- but only when his own overweening ego and ambition don't get in the way. Then he's all for suppressing his critics. As when he applauded efforts to get him on the ballot and his critics off. If this is an idealistic crusader, what would a minor tyrant be? For a picture, take a good close look at Bernie Sanders.