Oh, to be a fly on the wall in the inner circles of the Democratic establishment right now. Over the last month, since Donald Trump locked up the Republican nomination, Democratic leaders have grown increasingly outspoken in their criticism of Hillary Clinton’s persistent rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. After months of telling us how wonderful it was to see a clean, issues-focused primary race, these Democrats are now biting their nails, dreading the prospect of a contested convention – a prospect Sanders has promised to make a reality.
With dreams of a California win dancing in his head, Sanders has resisted all calls to hang up the towel. Stopping short of decrying the entire game as rigged, he has called for DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to be removed from her position, has mercilessly denounced the role of superdelegates, and has continued to insist that he has a much better shot at defeating Trump than his increasingly-impatient opponent.
Sanders appears noticeably irritated when interviewers ask him if and when he will ask his supporters to line up behind Hillary as the Democratic nominee. When he deigns to answer, he insists that it is Hillary, not he, who must reach out and mend fences. Ultimately, though, he has said numerous times that the most important thing is to make sure Trump doesn’t get elected.
Presumably, this means that Sanders – in some dark corner of his mind – intends to endorse Clinton once his chances of victory go from “virtually impossible” to “actually impossible.”
But if that’s his plan, you wouldn’t know it from his interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday. Months after earning universal praise from Democrats for his “damn emails” comment at one of the early debates, Sanders is taking off the gloves.
“Do I have a problem when a sitting secretary of state and a foundation run by her husband collects many, many dollars from foreign governments – governments which are dictatorships?” he said. “Yeah, I do have a problem with that. Yeah, I do.”
BOOM. That’s the sound of heads exploding inside Camp Clinton, if not the White House.
Sanders didn’t quite accuse Hillary of the quid-pro-quo arrangement outlined in Peter Schweizer’s blockbuster book Clinton Cash, but for him to even hint at impropriety is a stunning development this late in the game. How do you come back from that? How do you stand on a stage and endorse a woman who may or may not have sold U.S. government favor for private donations?
The race for the Democratic nomination, which has been all-but-predetermined from the beginning, is finally about to get interesting.