If you’re a Sanders supporter, you’re probably furious with Elizabeth Warren right now. If, like me, you’re a Sanders supporter who’s been going out of their way to say nice things about Warren, you’re probably a little embarrassed too. And if, in spite of her long history of stretching the truth, you’ve been looking the other way, you might feel like you should have seen this coming. I know I have all those feelings, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been responding to her fundraising emails with the kinds of comments that are likely to drive the poor bastards manning her campaign’s info@ box to double down on the Xanax and re-evaluate their life choices. But it’s time to take the win and move on.
What win am I talking about? Well, in case you haven’t noticed, the fallout here has been a victory for the progressive movement on every level. Let’s start with the corporate media. We always knew that if and when Sanders started leading in the polls they would pull out all the stops to blunt his momentum. It was my hope that they would go so over the top in their efforts that it would shred whatever credibility they had left with all but the most dedicated worshippers at the Holy Shrine of CNN and the most devout devotees of the Cult of Maddow. That happened a lot faster than I expected. And we owe it all to CNN and its horrendous debate. The questions were so slanted, and the hostility to Sanders so pronounced, even Mika Brzezinski wasn’t buying it. And when you can’t convince the corporate shills at Morning Joe that you ran a fair debate, you know the mask is slipping in ways that are hard for the average viewer to miss. That’s probably why #CNNistrash and #CNNisgarbage have been trending on Twitter for the past 48 hours. Progressives have been asking for a long time, “When are people going to wake up and realize this is all propaganda?” Looks like the answer is: now. They’re waking up now. I’d say to send Wolf Blitzer a fruit basket, but no one needs that kind of scrutiny from the FBI.
To understand how epic this fail was, for both Warren and CNN, one only has to look at the numbers. Sanders broke a record for real time debate fundraising in the first hour, with 15,000 donations. That’s 250 a minute, amounting to 43% of total Act Blue donations. Keep in mind that this was at the exact same time that moderator Abby Phillip pulled her now infamous hack move of ignoring Sanders’ denials of Warren’s claims to ask Warren how she felt when “Senator Sanders told you a woman could not win the election.” There was a time when a signal like that from corporate media would have tanked your campaign immediately, as poor Howard Dean (the Bernie Sanders of 2004) discovered when he had the temerity to scream awkwardly on an open mic. They broke that man so hard with their constant mockery and replays, that he’s a pharmaceutical lobbyist now. He used to be for single-payer health care.
But 2020 is a long way from 2004. Between WMD’s, 2016, Russiagate, and Beto-mania, they’ve lost all credibility with most of the public, and, as usual when it comes to assessing the mood of the body politic, they seem to be the last to know. Sanders has gone on to raise $4M since the debate, from 200,000 contributions, including 25,000 new donors. And he undoubtedly owes a lot of that to Warren’s desperate tactics, combined with the sheer awfulness of CNN.
The other win is the damage that Elizabeth Warren has done to her own campaign. In the end, even if you were well-disposed to Warren, you knew she needed to get out of the race in order for Sanders to consolidate progressive support. Yes, she mostly attracts white, well-educated voters, but we know from polling that around 31% of them will end up with Bernie when she drops out. I’m expecting that number to decrease in the coming days. Why? Because a lot of those voters are Bernie to Warren voters, who are going to jump ship early and come home to Bernie now. And we owe it all to her campaign’s brilliant decision to launch an identity politics-based smear against the politician with the highest favorability ratings in the Democratic Party. All she’ll have left at that point are the folks who are privileged enough to prioritize her gender over her integrity. By the time the dust settles, she could be under 15% in Iowa. Not even enough to get delegates.
Sure, we’ve had our fun over the last few days, from the Biblical plague of snakes dropped onto Warren’s Twitter feed, to the inundation of Act Blue with requests for Warren donor refunds. And it’s not like Warren didn’t ask for it. In spades. But to keep this going is only going to turn off voters who might otherwise support Bernie when Warren drops out. ‘Cause a lot of those people don’t like Bernie, but they really don’t like Joe Biden. Given a choice between the two, many will come over. Unless we get their backs up to the point that they decide to vote Biden out of spite. Warren will be out of the race before Super Tuesday. But Joe Biden will still be there. Let’s not waste our time on a sideshow when the main event is still to come.