April 14, 2016

WALTER SHAPIRO: Late To Discern The Bern.

Few aspects of political reporting are as ridiculed as drawing sweeping conclusions from the sentiments of friends.

That explains why a bogus 1972 line from New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael is quoted almost as often as “The Godfather.” After Tricky Dick’s 49-state landslide, Kael supposedly said (but didn’t), “Nixon can’t be president. Nobody I know voted for him.”

Sometimes, though, a friends-and-family poll can provide surprising insights. Especially before a New York Democratic primary pitting a carpet-bagging former senator against a granola refugee from Brooklyn who ended up in Vermont.

Earlier this month, I was stunned to discover that many of the guys with whom I have been drafting fantasy baseball players for 30 years are fervent Bernie Sanders supporters. Our annual dinner (after six hours in the trenches bidding on shortstops) erupted into an uncharacteristic political argument, with Hillary Clinton backers in short supply.

As I realized that I had misjudged the political allegiances of my grey-haired contemporaries, I felt like a film critic who’d slammed the ‘Best Picture’ winner.

Every time I had covered a Sanders speech I had failed to discern the Bern. But maybe I was missing something. Maybe I had been too dismissive of a presidential candidate who reminded me of the armchair Marxists I had known at the University of Michigan in the 1960s.

No, that’s pretty much what Bernie is. But Hillary is obviously corrupt and dishonest, and after 7+ years of an armchair Marxist in the White House already the way has been prepared.

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