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One Thing in Defense of Bernie, One Thing in Defense of Biden, and Nothing in Defense of Brian Williams

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | March 6, 2020 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | March 6, 2020 |


Three things in politics I want to discuss this morning:

1) The NYTimes hit piece on Bernie Sanders was a bunch of bullshit. This was the alarmist headline.

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Here’s what the article actually says: Lots of mayors tried to establish relationships with “sister cities” around the world. Bernie, mayor of Burlington, VT back in 1987, sought a Soviet sister city. The Soviets/Russia sought to exploit these relationships, not just with Bernie, but in the “sister city” program itself (a program that Ronald Reagan encouraged). Russians sought to exploit this with numerous mayors, and there is no evidence that Bernie was particularly receptive to it. Notwithstanding the alarming, Bernie-centric headline, the piece is not really about Bernie, but about how the Soviets have used whatever methods at their disposal to spread Russian propaganda. Their attempt to use Bernie is just another example among many.

This will not be the takeaway that most headline-only readers come away with. Their takeaway will be, “Bernie has been in the pocket of the Russians since 1987.” That is a bullshit takeaway, and while the NYTimes reporting is solid, the way they chose to frame it is pretty insidious.

2) Meanwhile, in defense not of Joe Biden but of his victory on Tuesday night: I do not think that Biden is a particularly inspiring candidate. I am literally more inspired by the work that my toaster oven does each morning. Every single day, it wakes up and it puts in the work to make toast, bagels, or Eggo waffles, and it never complains, and it never gives me a hard time. I would vote for that toaster oven in a heartbeat over Donald J. Trump. I would put that toaster oven in the Oval Office, and if that toaster oven did nothing else besides make toast, bagels, and waffles, it would be significantly less dangerous than the current occupant of the White House. I do think that Joe Biden is the lesser of two evils, but the chasm between true evil and whatever it is that Joe Biden is is vast and expansive. This is not Bush v. Gore and McCain v. Clinton. This is Hitler vs. a guy who is probably in the back pocket of the banking and insurance industries.

I grew up on Second Street in Benton, Arkansas. All the Black people in my city lived literally on the other side of the railroad tracks, in a section of the city everyone called N***** Hill. Everyone I knew freely tossed around the N-word. I spent time with the Mayor of my city, who used the N-word as casually as the word “water.” There was only one entrance into and out of The Hill, so if someone had set a fire, the whole neighborhood would have gone up in flames. It was only the year after I left that they finally connected my street to The Hill, giving it a second entrance. This was the late ’90s.

Super Tuesday was not about Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders. It was 100 percent about removing Donald Trump from the White House. Here’s Mara Gay at the Times putting it into context:

My friends in New York, many of them Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders supporters who see Mr. Biden as deeply uninspiring, were mystified. But after traveling through the South this past week though, I began to understand. Through Southern eyes, this election is not about policy or personality. It’s about something much darker.

Not long ago, these Americans lived under violent, anti-democratic governments. Now, many there say they see in President Trump and his supporters the same hostility and zeal for authoritarianism that marked life under Jim Crow.

For those who lived through the trauma of racial terrorism and segregation, or grew up in its long shadow, this history haunts the campaign trail. And Mr. Trump has summoned old ghosts.

“People are prideful of being racist again,” said Bobby Caradine, 47, who is black and has lived in Memphis all his life. “It’s right back out in the open.”

People like the former mayor of my hometown are probably freely using the N-word again, and Donald Trump has emboldened that. Medicare for All, free college tuition, and a $15 minimum wage would be f**king amazing, but not at the risk of all the Civil Rights gains this country has made in the last 60 years, not at the risk of seeing the thruway between my street and the only Black neighborhood in my hometown removed. And that’s why Black voters showed up for Joe Biden.

3) Oh, Dear God. Neither this person on Twitter, the pundit who surfaced it, nor Brian Williams nor the graphics person or the producers who put up the Tweet ever stopped to consider how profoundly, embarrassingly wrong this is.

Header Image Source: Getty Images