When Henry Kissinger was asked many years ago what he thought about the Iran-Iraq war, he gave an elegant response. “It’s a pity they can’t both lose.” That’s how I feel about Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
They hate the banks, they hate Wall Street, they hate big business, they think that any day now climate change will destroy the planet, they don’t think rich people pay enough taxes, they believe racism is rampant in America, that women are second-class citizens, that guns are bad and that the term "super-predator" is racist.
You don’t hear a lot from these two about 15-year old girls having babies which leads to poverty, or about how businesses pay billions in taxes and provide millions of jobs, or that it wouldn’t be such a bad idea if Barack Obama uttered the words “Islamic Terrorism” every now and then.
But there’s one subject that separates Bernie and Hillary. And that’s Israel. When the questions turn to Israel, as they did at the Democratic presidential debate in Brooklyn, Hillary sounds like the voice of reason while Bernie sounds like some left wing radical on a college campus.
Both candidates say that Israel has a right to defend itself. Saying that, of course, is not saying much. It’s the price of admission to get into the discussion. But Bernie is one of those liberals who believe in moral equivalence. So when Palestinians launch one of their intifadas, Bernie believes Israel has a moral responsibility to make sure its response is not "disproportionate" – which he thinks it has been.
Never mind, as Mrs. Clinton pointed out, that Palestinian terrorists often launch attacks on Israel while hiding among civilians, contributing to the disproportionality that so displeases the socialist from Vermont. In Bernie’s world, if the Palestinians kill 100 Israelis the Israelis should kill no more than 100 terrorists – and preferably a lot less.
While he acknowledges Israel’s right to exist, you get the impression that the real victims, in his worldview, are the oppressed Palestinians. No surprise there. A fundamental tenet of liberalism is to root for the perceived underdog. Power offends many on the left, progressives like Bernie Sanders, who probably liked Israel a lot more when it was weak. Not so much now that it’s strong.
In the real world, Bernie Sanders almost certainly won’t win his party’s nomination. But if he did that would be bad news for the GOP. In every major poll, he crushes the current Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump. He wins by 14 points in the Fox poll, by 17 in the CBS poll, by 14 in Quinnipiac and by 24 in the Bloomberg poll.
I have a theory on why Bernie draws such big enthusiastic crowds and does so well with younger voters. His supporters weren’t around to witness the great civil rights struggle of the 60s. They couldn’t march in Selma or ride freedom busses from the North down to Mississippi to stand up for justice. They didn’t know JFK or Bobby. Bernie is the closest they’ll get to something … exciting and yes, (politically) sexy! He may be 74 but he’s more passionate and a lot more genuine than Mrs. Clinton. He’s the one who’s leading the revolution. Who cares if his policies would bankrupt America? Not his adoring fans.
Still, it really is a pity they can’t both lose. I feel the same way about Donald Trump and Ted Cruz but we’ll save that for another day.