50 Shades of Bernie Sanders: Politics as Character

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It has become standard practice in conservative circles to salute socialist novelty candidate Bernie Sanders for his honesty, before pointing out that the left-wing views he wears on his sleeve are incredibly foolish, to the point of being childish prattle. (Not that he’s really all that far out of the Democrat mainstream, mind you. The rest of them understand the necessity of lying about their agenda and posing as God-Bless-America prosperity-seeking technocrats.)

I’d rather salute Bernie for his remarkable literary foresight. It turns out he was about forty years ahead of the “50 Shades of Grey” phenomenon. If he wasn’t so busy trying to seize and redistribute other peoples’ wealth, he could have been a beach-novel powerhouse.

“A man goes home and masturbates his typical fantasy. A woman on her knees, a woman tied up, a woman abused,” reads one excerpt from the Sanders oeuvre, circa 1972.  “A woman enjoys intercourse with her man — as she fantasizes being raped by 3 men simultaneously.”

These writings were, of course, dismissed as irrelevant old news by the very same media that assured us the tale of Mitt Romney allegedly giving a fellow student a haircut in 1965 was among the reddest and hottest of bulletins in 2012.

Katie McDonough at Salon goes a bit further by offering the strongest, purest form of the argument that politics is the sole important measure of character, at least where Democrats are concerned, listing various bills he’s voted for and political statements he’s made that supposedly provide ironclad proof that he can’t possibly harbor a single misogynist thought in his dear old mind. We heard the same thing when we were assured no amount of real, live sexual harassment could possibly tarnish Bill Clinton’s wonderful feminist credentials, or that it’s crazy to overlook Ted Kennedy’s “liberal lion” voting record to dwell on that one girl he left to drown in his car.

We hear echoes of the politics-as-character argument when we’re instructed to accept Bill and Hillary Clinton as noble champions of the Little Guy and world-class philanthropists, no matter how many charities they mercilessly loot, and how much exotic currency piles up in their maze of bank accounts and shell corporations.

We get the converse of the politics-as-character sham when conservatives and Republicans are treated as “anti-woman” because they have qualms about abortion or socialized contraceptive distribution, or “hateful” if they’re not on board with the latest billion-dollar boondoggle. We’ve been told critics of ObamaCare must be inhuman monsters who enjoy watching poor people drop dead in the street.

For another Sanders-Romney contrast, look at the crazy “binders full of women” assault on Romney’s character during the 2012 campaign. Specifically, here’s how CNN began an October 2012 report on the nontroversy: “Mitt Romney showed up Tuesday night talking about ‘binders full of women’ being brought to him when he was governor. Sounds kind of kinky and certainly not something you want to be touting.”

Really? “Kinky and certainly not something you want to be touting?” But Bernie Sanders’ rape fantasies, written when he was not a child, but a grown man in his 30s, are utterly irrelevant?

The massed ranks of dim-bulb liberalism screamed into their oversized media megaphone that Romney’s use of the phrase “binders full of women” provided some sort of dark window into the festering depths of his woman-hating character. I know we’re all supposed to forget about these political cudgels after the Left discards them, but if by chance the reader has forgotten the 2012 presidential campaign, this was a huge deal, and it went on for days, generating thousands of op-eds.

That contemporaneous CNN report notes that by the morning after Romney dropped the line, “almost 300,000 people had supported a Facebook page about what a politically dumb statement it was.” Some of those people are, right this instant, writing Facebook posts saying Bernie Sanders writing about women enjoying forcible intercourse with multiple men says nothing meaningful about him.

And it was all over the following quote from Mitt Romney, in response to a question during a presidential debate, saying that when he was governor of Massachusetts, “I had the chance to pull together a Cabinet, and the applicants seemed to be men. I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks?’ And they brought us whole binders full of women.”

Hilariously, CNN’s probing analysis tried to grant Romney a little “fairness” by saying “‘binders’ was most likely a slip of the tongue,” before launching into a lengthy unpacking of how that little slip illustrated his insufficient dedication to women’s equality. “Binders” is not a slip of the tongue – it’s a perfectly ordinary word for a common object, which can be used to hold a stack of resumes. But we were buried beneath a billion words of such idiotic flapdoodle about how Romney – in the course of telling a story about how he decided his gubernatorial cabinet needed more women, so he asked for and received help from women’s groups – had inadvertently revealed the dark heart of a woman-oppressing throwback.

Obviously this was an entirely political outburst of cultivated stupidity, based on the principle that Romney’s party affiliation said everything important about his character, just as the politics of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton define their characters.

It’s a double game that should have stopped a long time ago, because this robotic acceptance of ideology as morality is killing us. The truth is closer to the opposite: what good are the promises of someone who cannot be trusted? Seven years after electing a President whose character and history the press refused to examine in depth, we should have learned that painful lesson.


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