According to a new poll out of New Hampshire, self-described socialist Bernie Sanders has vaulted ahead of scandal-plagued Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary race. Sanders has been drawing enormous crowds to rallies across the country, illustrating what some are calling a clear 'enthusiasm gap' advantage over the frontrunner. What might this indicate about Clinton, and her party's base? Given DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz's struggles to distinguish any meaningful difference between Democrats' political agenda and that of loud-and-proud socialists, Fox Business Network host Stuart Varney says there really is no distinction at this point. I joined Varney's program earlier today to analyze Sanders' rise and the state of the Democratic race (via Right Sightings):
That last bit is key, echoing a point I made on Twitter last night:
Protip: You'll know @SenSanders may actually be serious about winning if/when he starts hammering opponent under federal investigation.— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) August 12, 2015
Barack Obama won the nomination over heavily-favored Hillary in 2008 by aggressively and relentlessly attacking her from the left. On big issues like war and healthcare (pre-adoption of her policy for Obamacare, of course), Obama pummeled her at every opportunity. His campaign also strategically highlighted her dishonesty, even playing the race card when it served their interests. The gloves were off. He played to win. And he prevailed. As of this moment, Bernie Sanders is not playing to win. Offered opportunities to sharply criticize Hillary in interviews, he demurs. He pulls many punches on the stump. He's awfully quiet on Hillary's pattern of global interventionism, in Iraq and more recently in Libya. He doesn't seem interested in highlighting her sordid money-in-politics dealings, 'corporatism,' or deep Wall Street ties. And he's been unwilling to pointedly note that unlike Hillary Clinton, he's not under federal criminal investigation over a matter that appears to have seriously compromised national security. Until and unless Bernie Sanders chooses to start taking clean hits at Hillary's record, philosophy, character and ethics, his campaign should be considered little more than a public awareness tour designed to nudge Hillary to the Left. He's attending to the base's populist itch that's most satisfyingly scratched by the party's spirit animal and politics-of-envy queen, Elizabeth Warren; she's not running, so he's the next best thing. But he doesn't appear to truly be seeking the Democratic nomination. At least not yet. Bear in mind that he's foresworn negative ads against the woman who presents his biggest obstacle to the crown he seeks -- and it's not as if he refuses to take hard, even demagogic, political swipes at opponents. Let's see if his approach changes. I'll leave you with this clip from NBC's Today. "Between the poll with Bernie Sanders and this email development...this is peril for her:"
By the way, Bernie Sanders honeymooned in the Soviet Union. That's real commitment, comrade.