Rich Manieri, 3/5/2020 [Archive]

Biden's Comeback and Bernie's Cuba Problem

Biden's Comeback and Bernie's Cuba Problem

By Rich Manieri


Joe Biden sputters and gaffes his way along the campaign trail and somehow manages a resounding victory on Super Tuesday.

Go figure.

Perhaps what Super Tuesday revealed, among other things, is that Democrats prefer an uninspiring, sometimes-bizarre Biden to a Marxist.

Maybe America really isn't ready for Bernie Sanders' brand of socialism after all. Nor does it appear the Democratic establishment is ready. Prominent Democrats, including billionaire Mike Bloomberg - who dropped out of the race on Wednesday - are now throwing their support and money toward Biden.

What about Bernie?

His loyalists won't bail on him, despite his disappointing showing on Tuesday, because they believe with an almost religious fervor in his collectivist policies - free tuition, healthcare, a "green economy" and a massive expansion of government.

But I can't help but wonder if Sanders hasn't gone too far.

His outrageous comments about Cuban dictator Fidel Castro didn't end his campaign, but they might have been the stick in his bicycle spokes.

I have to give Sanders credit. After listening to him, I was almost convinced Castro was a pretty nice guy.

"You know, when Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing? Even though Fidel Castro did it?" Sanders said in a "60 Minutes" interview that aired Feb. 24.

You know, Hitler loved his dog. Is that a bad thing?

In the "60 Minutes" interview, Sanders was responding to questions about his comments in the 1980s when he said the Cuban people didn't overthrow Castro because he gave them healthcare and education.

He also had scores of people who disagreed with him imprisoned and shot.

But hey, for Cubans under Castro's thumb, while you were dodging firing squads and watching the government seize your property, at least your gall bladder surgery was on the house.

Sanders has not, nor will he, apologize for his Castro comments. Why not? Because that's what he believes and how he thinks.

Of course, Castro was a murderous tyrant who oppressed and terrorized Cuban citizens for more than five decades. Not exactly breaking news. And it's not as if Sanders isn't aware of Castro's record. That's why, despite the bipartisan outrage from Florida lawmakers following the "60 Minutes" interview, there was no attempt by the Sanders camp to walk back his Castro praise.

Sanders knows thousands of Floridians and their families have ties to Cuba and many risked their lives to escape the Castro regime. Still, "When dictators do something good, you acknowledge that," Sanders said.

OK. Maybe I'm the unenlightened one. Perhaps I should do a column on the sunny sides of Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot and Genghis Khan.

Unemployment in Stalin's Soviet Union was less than 2 percent. You'd get thrown in a gulag if your boss didn't think you working hard enough. Still, it's a living.

Sanders is a communist sympathizer from way back. He had high praise for Daniel Ortega's Nicaraguan revolution in 1985 and he honeymooned in the Soviet Union in 1988, using the opportunity to denounce American capitalism. At least he's consistent.

All of this presents a huge problem for Democrats and they finally seem to be understanding as much.

If Sanders somehow were to win the nomination, he will be filleted, breaded and deep-fried by Team Trump, which won't even have to work that hard because Sanders will have already half-cooked himself. They'll have Sanders photoshopped next to a picture of Lenin faster than you can say Lev Trotsky.

Democrats now seem to realize that this leaves them with few options, other than trying to drag Biden across the finish line.

Biden will also get sliced and diced by the Trump camp but Sanders offers more meat to Republicans.

Sanders thinks he can win by "expanding the electorate" which, in his case, means increasing turnout among young people. Democratic strategist James Carville recently called the theory "stupid."

Tuesday, Carville was proven right, as exit polls showed young voters didn't turn out for Sanders as they have in the past.

This leaves Democrats to sort out Sanders' Cuba problem, Biden's Biden problem and a potentially contested nominating convention which will be political mud wrestling at its finest.

The only one who won't end up dirty is Donald Trump.

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Copyright 2020 Rich Manieri, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Rich Manieri is a Philadelphia-born journalist and author. He is currently a professor of journalism at Asbury University in Kentucky. His book, "We Burn on Friday: A Memoir of My Father and Me" is available at amazon.com. You can reach him at manieri2@gmail.com.

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