Current Affairs Politics

Joe Biden And The Tara Reade Assault Allegations

Are the wheels starting to come off the Joe Biden campaign? Up to this week it seemed certain that the former Vice President was on route to become the presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, taking on Donald Trump in November. With the leadership of the Democrats and allied news media thwarting a second anti-establishment effort by Bernie Sanders to secure the party’s nomination, and with the great and the good of “liberal America” fuelling the Biden machine in money and publicity, the United States seemed destined for a particularly nasty contest between two elderly millionaires for the occupancy of the White House. The incumbent, representing upstart hard-right populism and wilful incompetence, and the opponent, representing the pacifying right-leaning centrism of the American political and corporate establishment.

However Joe Biden’s status as the presumptive nominee of his party has been the subject of external criticism and some ridicule for several weeks now, not least because of the ex-senator’s obvious struggles with the rigours of the nomination process. Suggesting to some that he would be overwhelmed by the combined war effort of the Republican Party, Fox News and Trump during the election campaign. Now we have the liberal component of the US press slowly but surely being forced into airing the allegations of sexual misconduct against their supposed saviour by Tara Reade, a former staff member at his US Senate office in the early 1990s. The Guardian has done a good job of gathering the various stands of the story together, along with the initially and very deliberately muted reaction of the nominally progressive commentariat. But with the conservative media making space for the accusations against Biden the potential scandal is one that can no longer be ignored or dismissed.

Joe Biden may become the presidential candidate for the Democratic Party at its forthcoming convention but just about the only thing that can save his future electoral bacon is Trump’s disastrous mishandling of the Covid-19 crisis in the United States.

24 comments on “Joe Biden And The Tara Reade Assault Allegations

  1. It’s a mess. If they had planned to sabotage their own chances, the democrats could not have done worse. Not that I really think Biden is any better than Trump. In fact, he’s a lot more culpable though his mind is clearly withdrawing. It’s a disaster that, again, the corporate media have foisted on Americans and the rest of the world. And could someone please smear garlic around the Clinton compound and ensure at least some mitigation of the horrors to come.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So far no President has lost an election due to an accusation of this kind. It didn’t hurt Clinton.

    Realistically, the reason Biden became the nominee? It’s 100% Bernie Sanders fault. AFrican Americans in The South were NOT going to pick Sanders over Biden, that was a given from day 1.

    If Sanders hadn’t entered the race, I believe Warren would have had a better chance. People all over the country backed Biden, because they saw him as the only alternative to irrascible Sanders who nobody thought could win.

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  3. The reality is that unlike Anita Hill, Christine Blasely Ford or even Paula Jones, Tara Reade has repeatedly changed her story.

    Either way during the time of this Biden has a reliable allibi. It is well known that every day during the alleged time period he went home to see his two injured children, so he could read to them before bedtime and all that. His wife had died and the boys injured in a terrible accident. Every who knew Biden at that time said he left the office like a clockwork to tend to his sons because they had complicated injuries and had just lost their mother.

    The axiom of “believe all women” is basically a reaction/over-correction to centuries of misogynistic narratives about “why-women-lie-about-everything-but-especially-sexual-assault”.

    Even Susan Brownmiller who wrote the original feminist text on rape titled “Against Our Will” (the book that inspired yours truly to ask her mother for karate lessons!!), didn’t claim women never, ever, ever lie about such things. What she argued is that the overall false accusation rate for rape is lower than most other crimes. That most wrongly imprisoned for rape were victims of mistaken identity, not rapes that were invented out of whole cloth-indeed many of them are very violent assaults with a badly injured victim or rape-murder cases. Finally, that even most cases of sustained, willful, and deliberate false accusations that name a specific person (versus a vague unnamed description) look absolutely nothing like the stereotypes of “women-scorned” or whatever, indeed not all such accusations are even made by women.

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    • There’s a balance isn’t there? I always think ‘believe all women’ should be more a case of ‘listen to every woman’ in these circumstances rather than the previous status quo of often/largely dismissing women’s stories. So perhaps it’s not a case of belief as much as providing a space where allegations can be presented and engaged with usefully in such a way as to do justice to victims of sexual assault and abuse but also to do everything to provide justice for all those in these situations.

      Re the Biden allegations, not sure how substantial they are. It’s not just the story changed, it’s not even that she expressed support for him etc or that he was in political life for many many decades, was VP twice etc (all points where one might expect this allegation to emerge). I’m not a fan of the man but without a pattern of such encounters with other witnesses etc it is difficult to feel these are very robust.

      The political effect… hard to believe against Trump and all the baggage he has it’s going to make any serious difference.

      Liked by 1 person

      • One thing I’m inevitably going to hear about for years now. “If you opposed Kavanaugh’s confirmation, doesn’t that make you a hypocrite for voting for Biden.” Truthfully, I didn’t oppose Kavanaugh’s confirmation because of Christine Blasely Ford’s accusations at all. I opposed his confirmation because I believed with or without any of that the man was unfit to be a Supreme Court Justice.

        His history of working for Ken (aka “Porno”) Starr with the whole Clinton-Lewsinsky thing as his record overall points to a hardcore ideologue and somebody who was willing to play dirty for partisan gain……..That’s not what you want in a Supreme Court Justice. Also his having lost his cool in front of the Senate like that told me he didn’t have the temperament for the job.

        If it had been a criminal trial against Kavanaugh and was I one of the jurors I’m not certain I would vote to convict. That would depend on what evidence any real investigation could have turned up. I definitely believed Ford personally, but does that by itself enough to qualify as “proof beyond reasonable doubt”? I don’t think so. Not without some corroborating evidence.

        The problem with this whole sticky issue is first how deeply woven all the old dirty notions about women as innate and hopeless liars are. A lot of times even if a man is cleared of rape on the grounds of “mistaken identity” where the victim had horrible injuries including being stabbed and left for dead, in a coma for weeks from head wounds, or had her eyes gouged out people STILL end up muttering about how she was a whore or “made it all up” or how the real perpetrator was her boyfriend or husband, and how this so-called boyfriend/hubby was probably really a pimp.

        The other one is that I’m afraid that sexual allegations real or false have become normalized as part of the political scenery. That some people find looking for somebody who will accuse any candidate of sexual assault or misconduct is now just “how the game has changed”.

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      • gendjinn

        WbS,

        Reade apparently made a formal complaint through the appropriate congressional process at the time (if you recall the scandal a few years back about how the process was constructed to protect the elected you will understand why nothing happened). Biden has the records, sealed at a Delaware university. Refuses to release them.

        Reade’s mother called into a Larry King CNN show in 1993 and discussed it without mentioning names. That one episode has now been taken down from CNN’s Google Play.

        There’s a 2015 Daily Show bit where Jon Stewart skewers Biden on his groping of women and children. With video evidence. There are plenty of video compilations of Biden’s inappropriate touching.

        Here’s a clip with both.

        Add in the rapid onset dementia, his political history voting for every awful trade, finance, criminal and civil liberty bill and the Iraq War and there’s no way Trump loses to him. DNC better hire some great hackers for November.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Agree with most of that. But expect “Creepy Joe” or “Sleazy Joe” to be added to the “Crooked Joe” talking points of the Trump campaign. And among the wavering Republican or independent vote that might make a difference.

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        • It’s all a bit amorphous though isn’t it gendjinn? Reade’s mother, if it was her, on LK didn’t actually mention sexual harassment at all. The touchy feely Biden stuff while gross to us is not uncharacteristic of men of a certain age. And again there’s no record of those turning into actual assault and there’s been plenty of time for that to bubble up. I’m no fan of his Democrat centrism (he certainly wasn’t the candidate I hoped would win through, thought Warren was better by a country mile, and Sanders just not going to make it after a heart attack) but it will be interesting the next six or seven months.

          I’m sure they’re road testing Creepy Joe. Be very telling how Biden pushes back. BTW, I can’t see them dumping Biden from the ticket. Just far far too late for that.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I believe that Biden is probably going to offer Elizabeth Warren as his running mate. If she doesn’t accept (outside chance) he has still promised a woman. The obvious other woman he would be smart to pick would be Amy Klobuchar. The reasons that Warren or Klobuchar would make the most sense comes down to “expanding on Biden’s base”.

            The single largest subset (by far) of Southern African American voters are hard pragmatics who in the primaries will pick whatever Democrat they see as having the best chance of winning-full stop, end of story. For that reason Stacey Abrams largely shares Biden’s base. Warren probably won’t suck in the hard core uncompromises “Bernie or bust” people. However Warren and Klobucar both appeal to large overlapping-but-not-identical subsets of Democrats who probably are sort of Lukewarm to Biden.

            This is also related to why I blame Bernie Sanders for the fact Warren didn’t have a real shot. I believe that a lot of people who would have voted for Warren felt they had no choice but to vote for Biden, because if Sanders won his heart attack would render him unelectable.

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          • gendjinn

            Dig into the story yourself, Times Up in January, SKDKnickerbocker, Two month delay, Feeding Biden campaign her story. It was interesting watch this story be out for weeks before CNN/NYT reported on it. You will see the familiar signs of narrative management. There is so much activity and effort put into dealing with something that are told is a nothingburger. Have you read or listened to Katie Halper’s reporting on the story when she broke it over a month ago? Or just the NYT/Guardian reportage?

            Side not: My wife went to college in DC in the 90s and interned on the hill during the Clinton administration. One semester and never went back. The culture at the time, in that place was hyper-sexualized you were either on the party bus or you were a prude and this was amidst the as yet unexamined toxic patriarchy that ran rife through the US. The story is plausible in the context of the times, place and individual involved. But we do not have courtroom standard level of proof. How often do we and how often have rapists escaped punishment through those loopholes?

            BTW I don’t understand how you think Warren is a progressive, she was a Reagan Republican, politically active Republican, spoke at the Federalist for crying out loud. She is a Republican made comfortable in the Democratic party by Bill Clinton and the DLC. To see yourself, with your politics, saying that puzzles me greatly. From over here, with the details I read I see her for the right wing Neolib she is, no better or different that Hillary Clinton. There’s a reason Warren came in third in her own home state of Mass. You know the scandal of how her 2018 primary challenger was tossed off the ballot, right?

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            • Warren was pro-Reagan decades ago. She switched from Republican to Democrat in the 1990’s. If you accept people can change, then over 20 years as a Democrat should could for something. James Webb was fawned, and fawned and fawned over within a few months of his conversion from not just a Republican but a much more extreme one in the mid 00’s and ran for nominee within a couple years.

              As for Biden, his alibi is pretty strong despite what “somebody might have done” at that point. He was well known by everybody for being on a commuter train by a certain time to go see his injured kids to bed and read them stories. He did this because they had complicated injuries with long painful recoveries and had just lost their mother.

              People were in the office long after Biden had gone home. He got on that train like a clockwork-hours before the office was anything but densely peopled or when Reade claims this stuff happened. That’s as good of an alibi as you are going to get for an unspecified date that long ago. Commuter trains were less flexible than private cars especially then.

              Truthfully “Believe all women all the time” never was the feminist claim at all. If anything it was a watered down infantilized one that got into the media.

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              • gendjinn

                Warren was a Reagan Republican during the AIDS crisis, she disqualified herself from the presidency with that stance. End of discussion.

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            • OK. You are obviously misinformed about what The Reagan Administration actually did with regards to AIDS. For the most part Reagan delegated handling HIV/AIDS to Surgeon General Everett Koop who was pretty professional in his handling of the epidemic. In short Reagan followed a custom Trump ignores: The President usually lets the Surgeon General and top officials at the CDC, HHS do most of the talking about public health crisis with only occasional usually less political “follow-up statement”.

              https://www.city-journal.org/html/ronald-reagans-quiet-war-aids-14783.html

              https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/06/01/ronald_reagan_and_aids_correcting_the_record_122806.html

              Let’s be a little serious about the context of the time. By the time Reagan was elected millions of people around the world and a large chunk of the gay population was infected with HIV and nobody really knew what it even was. The virus wasn’t identified until 1983 and by the point there was a meteoric rise in the number of people infected-most of whom didn’t know it. A lot of reporters in gay newspapers in the early newspapers at first claimed the disease was just a rumor spread to demonize gay men.

              If you go from identifying the virus in 1983, having the first drug for it in 1987, and declaring it treatable rather than a death sentence in 1995: That’s probably about as fast as could have been done given the technology of the time. Reagan certainly can’t be given full blame for the global HIV crisis as the disease had been spreading both globally and in the US long before he became President and only a time portion of the actual cases were then or currently are in the US. Reagan treated international public health as President’s used to: As a non-partisan matter, unlike Bush or Trump.

              I never supported Reagan. I never liked Reagan. There are a lot of things he advocated that I never agreed with.

              However, to say that Reagan is just so culpable for HIV/AIDS that having been a pro-Reagan Republican in the 1980’s permanently disqualified you from anything: That’s bullshit.

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            • The whole story that Reagan can be blamed for HIV/AIDS is for the most part nonsense. HIV had probably existed since the 1920’s at least and made it’s way to North America in the 1960’s. When Reagan first became President it had been spreading in Africa for decades and much of the world including the US for over 10 years without anyone knowing it was going on. It wasn’t until 1981 that the CDC knew that something was going on with the gay community some cities and those involved in African medicine had only thought the same for a couple of years and nobody made the connection between “GRID” and the illness afflicting a lot of people from Sub-Saharan Africa. In 1982, they switched the name from GRID in the US or various other names in Europe or Africa to AIDS. In 1983 the virus was separately and independently identified in one French lab and one American one-without any real collaboration with each other. By 1985 there was a reliable test and some prevention guidelines. By 1987 AZT became the first accepted drug to treat it. By 1996 it was considered largely treatable.

              It’s pretty unlikely that given the technology of the time that the timeline from knowing something was “up” by 1979-1981 to being able to treat the virus by 1996 could have been that much faster than it was. Reagan for his part never vetoed any money approved by Congress for research, prevention or education related to HIV/AIDS. Mostly he left the decisions about HIV/AIDS to his Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, gave Koop a lot of latitude to handle HIV/AIDS as he saw fit, and didn’t interfere when some of Koop’s choices were controversial. For example US Public Health sent pamphlets on HIV/AIDS to every household at a time when that move was extremely controversial (ei sending materials with a lot of information involving sex, homosexuality, condoms etc in mailboxes where children could easily get their hands on it). The US Public Health had never done anything like that before, and it was pushing the envelop of what most of the society saw as even remotely acceptable. For example, it was pretty common for lifelong liberals to honestly think gay men were this extremely tiny fringe group that existed only in New York and San Francisco, and that lesbians simply didn’t exist-much like Victoria once believed that. At the time of the pamphlets both my parents honestly believed that homosexuality was something “almost everyone got over” after getting out of extremely sex-segregated environments like prison, sailors who had been on the boat a long time, or “those weird British style boarding schools”. Reagan could have stopped the pamphlets but choose not to. I remember them: It was off the chart controversial, and Reagan probably knew he was accepting some risk to the GOP by not stopping Koop.

              I’ve never been a fan of Reagan. However the idea that he was just so culpable for HIV/AIDS that you could blame him for thousands of deaths from AIDS or that even having supported him years ago is such a black mark: That’s nonsense.

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              • gendjinn

                Reagan and the 80s GOP chorus are absolutely culpable for the global AIDS pandemic. The movies And The Band Played On, The Naked Heart and The Dallas Buyer’s Club are worth checking out. They are pretty close to the historical and scientific truth.

                HIV 1 and 2 crossed over to humans in the 19th century, not the 20th. The pandemic began in the early 80s, that was when it could have been contained and dealt with. Not ignored, neglected and allowed to spread globally. See And The Band Played On and The Naked Heart.

                AZT was another hydroxy-quinone BS that could get some politically connected paid and did almost nothing for AIDS treatment. See Dallas Buyer’s Club.

                Bob Gallo stole the French lab’s work. Outright stole it. The fact he has any career is down to the greed of the US govt wanting a patent on the HIV testing kit and their defense of them. It was the decency and honour of the French lab that wanted to focus on helping the ill that resulted in a face saving compromise for Gallo. There’s a PBS TV movie with Alan Alda as Bob Gallo and the scandal is spelled out quite clearly.

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            • I actually used to believe some of the things you do about Reagan and HIV/AIDS. Even then the idea that Reagan could have had much of a role in a pandemic that was brewing long before he became President struck me as likely overblown. Even if you believe the actual claims about Reagan and HIV/AIDS how much blame could he take for an epidemic that was in the making long before he became President, wasn’t understood through most of his first term, and had no viable treatment options until close to the end of his Presidency. Also the percentage of HIV sufferers who were living in the US and/or citizens/nationals never was over 6% of the global total. All facts, the limit Reagn’s theoretically possible culpability.

              If you look at the HIV/AIDS budget during the Reagan era it at least doubled every year of his Presidency, and Reagan never made any attempt to veto Congress for it, nor likely would have even if the sums had been considerably higher. Reagan was not a good President in my opinion, but it’s a fact that HIV/AIDS research, prevention campaigns, and education and some other medical causes (ei child leukemia, preventing blindness) were among the relatively few thing he wasn’t averse to spending money on. Reagan had many opportunities to stop his own Surgeon General from doing things that at the time were extremely controversial, but the Surgeon General decided were necessary to warn the public about HIV. Reagan choose not to take a single one of those opportunities.

              As for the FDA they considerably loosened their own rules quite a bit in the 1980’s due to AIDS. They had become extremely tight because of the Thalidomide crisis earlier and were tightened again in the late 90’s and early 00’s when some heart and cholesterol meds went South. AZT which was so criticized in the movie “Dallas Buyer’s Club” as “poison” is still commonly used for HIV. They just take it now in lower doses with a combination regimen and it’s current name is Zivoudine

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              • gendjinn

                The epidemic occurred during Reagan’s presidency. It could have been squelched then and there. Instead he and his party ignored it, reveled in the deaths of homosexuals and permitted it to become a global pandemic.

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            • What exactly do you think was so magical about HIV/AIDS in the US in the 1980’s? If it “could have been squelched” in the 1980’s why not now when there is so much more in the way of knowledge and tools to fight the disease?

              HIV WAS a pandemic long before the WHO, CDC, or public health and the medical establishment of any country had a clue what was going on. It was already a pandemic when it had reached all countries of North and South America and been spreading on the two continents for at least a decade before Reagan became President. So by definition did not “allow” anything to become a pandemic. When the CDC first started investigating the first signs of HIV/AIDS in the US, it was a good five months after Reagan had even been sworn in.

              How could Reagan at that stage have “squelched HIV/AIDS” in the US let alone the whole world? For the first couple years there wasn’t a consensus on how you could/couldn’t transmit HIV and what prevention measures should be recommended. If you looked at actual cities with big gay populations. state and local moves like closing down gay bathhouses were extremely controversial among gay men themselves. Some gay activists believed that even the efforts to pass out condoms was just another scheme to stigmatize them. Several right wing pundits wanted to have everyone who was HIV positive tattooed on the butt, or even round up and incarcerate all gay men and drug users to prevent the spread of HIV, but the administration never took those seriously. The Surgeon General consistently went down the road of voluntary educational campaigns and always reminding people not to assume AIDS sufferers “deserved” what happened to them, and Reagan consistently accepted that judgment.

              Comparing AZT to AIDS to hydroxychlorquinine for Covid-19? Puhlease!! They still use lower doses of it in some of the multi-drug regimens that have made most cases of HIV treatable.

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          • I think that’s a really interesting point re change Grace. If we don’t think people can change for the better then why do we keep going? I’ve seen massive shifts in people’s opinions on state ownership, collectivism, lgbtq issues, contraception, divorce, etc. to the point where I know people my age (early to mid 50s) who seem to have genuinely forgotten they held completely different views (I’m just glad they arrived at the point I did 😉 ). Warren is no red revolutionary but I don’t think it impossible for someone to move from fiscal conservative to progressive. I’ve even known that path on the Irish left. As to whether she’s a progressive, her platform certainly is. Her policies on workers rights in particular seem to me to be pretty sound. Taxes likewise. But conversely I don’t have any faith in her or any great investment (not least because I can’t vote for her) because she’s a politician and subject to the same pressures and distortions as any other politician. Having seen politicians close up for two decades now in work and other contexts I’ve no illusions about even the most nominally ‘progressive’ andparticuarly when it comes to being a politician, retaining their position, avoiding rivals emerging from their own camp etc etc. The amazing thing is that any progress is made. But be that as it may I do think the left has to be open to the idea that even those from conservative or reactionary positions can move in a better direction. I’ve friends on the anti-fascist side who’ll give chapter and verse how actual fascists can change their viewpoints radically. If it’s possible in that context then I think it’s reasonable to say it’s possible in any context.

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            • As for reasonable expectation with either Warren, Biden, or Sanders. First of all, as long as the President’s party is generally friendly to the politics you want to see, and is a good leader where exactly he or she (sigh!) fits on the say Conservative Democrat to Progressive spectrum doesn’t matter all that much.

              Realistically it’s more Congress in general and The Speaker of the House in particular who tends to set the tone for the “issues”. If we get a Democrat it probably matters much less than some people think whether it’s a “conservative democrat” or a “progressive”. The ideological composition of Congress is much, much more important. (It’s just that each American voter can only vote for 3 out of the 538 of them!! Some states are considering “pooling” House of Representative Districts into districts with two Reps chosen by ranked voting, like you have districts of 3-5 the lower house of Oireachtas. No that wouldn’t require a Constitutional Amendment. It would only require a Constitutional Amendment to require all states to do this, and/or to pool Senators.)

              The pragmatic name of the game was a Democrat who could win. LBJ was not ideologically that “left”, but he got through loads of progressive legislation as well as Civil Rights Bills. How? Mostly because everyone in Washington owed him a favor of some kind of favor. Biden has some of the same advantages as a former Vice President. Warren has considerably more due to her career in the Senate (her past as a Republican enhances rather than diminishes this political capital)- another reason why she’d be a good choice of running mate.

              There is a helluva lot more to a pragmatic evaluation of these candidates than saying “Well, he’s a centrist so he can win.”

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        • They were going to say these things no matter which Democrat was picked. It should be obvious by now. Biden is still strongly associated with the Obama administration as the VP, and some serious “Obama nostalgia” is beginning to set in and will probably pick up over the campaign.

          I personally respect Biden, however I will ALWAYS put the fact Elizabeth Warren never had a real shot at Bernie Sander’s door. He should NEVER have bothered entering the race at all.

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          • There’s another balance right there between the absolute right of anyone to contest any democratic election and then more strategic or tactical considerations. Difficult to work out where it lies. I’m leery about saying to anyone they shouldn’t stand full stop. And we know in campaigns that sometimes people come to the fore and shine. So I think Sanders had a clear right. I do wonder though after his health issue whether he shoudlnt’ have stepped right back or thrown his weight behind the next closest progressive candidate.

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            • Technically nobody could stop him.

              However, it’s obvious to me that Bernie Sanders isn’t fit to be President. It isn’t just the health issues, or just the word “Socialist”. The word socialist simply doesn’t mean what a lot of people in Europe are assuming it does. Bernie Sanders is simply from multiple Demographic (American Jews and parts of New England) where the term “Socialist” is used like it sometimes is in Britain and parts of Western Europe. Most of the US reserves the term socialist for Orthodox Marxists and the people you might call “Trots”. Those in the US who ultimately support a better mixed economy tend to use the term “progressive”. (Despite its image as the hotbed of capitalism the US never had Laissez Faire Capitalism as Britain once did, and was a mixed economy from its earliest years.).

              His use of “socialist” is meaningless. As long as the President is a Democrat it’s more the ideological composition of Congress that matters not the President’s place on the spectrum.

              Bernie is in my opinion not fit for the role of POTUS. I see in him an eerily similar mental inflexibility to that of Woodrow Wilson- The mental inflexibility that got The US into WWI, and made getting into WWI such a full blown societal insanity, despite the fact that Wilson started out deeply anti-war. (Wilson had actually grown up in the CSA and fetched water for a Confederate hospital -originally his Daddy’s Presbyterian Church- starting at six years old, which you would think would make him lifelong anti-war.) So when I see the same mental inflexibility in Bernie Sanders if fucking scares the shit out of me. I don’t care what he calls himself.

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          • Sham Bob

            The thing about mainstream Democrats is it’s always someone else’s fault. Just like the way they blamed Nader voters in the Bush years, the fact that their sub-par candidate can’t get elected is never down to the candidate – or themselves. Obama had to overcome the same conservatism to become the candidate. And he had to be an exceptional, inspiring candidate to win the Presidency.

            It seems that blaming Bernie is going to be the Democratic mantra for years to come if Biden can’t beat Trump, just as it was with Hillary. Trying to do this to excuse Joe Biden’s candidacy will be a much greater feat of mental gymnastics.

            Liked by 1 person

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