Most of what I write that’s not Gonzo satire is fact, or as close to it as I can come. In this case it’s different; the entire topic is subjective, and what we’re discussing here is entirely about motives and speculation. All I can tell you is what I’ve been told, what I’ve read, and what I’ve extrapolated from other sources; there’s some conjecture, but not as much as you might think.
This is the best I can do. Take it or leave it.
We meet in a club room straight out of melodrama, all oak paneling and brown leather. There’s a small fire in a large fireplace, the books on the shelves are sets that have probably never been opened, and the whisky is terrible — astringent and cheap, but in solid chunky glasses. The place reeks of mildew, but the door is thick and closed, and that’s enough for us. I came in through the back and will go out the same way. The only way I could get this meeting is simple: I was never really here.
“Of course he’ll never get the nomination,” he says. “Bloomberg is better than Trump, but the question is academic. He was the only one that ever expected to get any further than Super Tuesday anyway.” We speak a while longer on the relative merits; his view is that Trump actually threatens our form of government, whereas Bloomberg for all his evident faults would respect tradition — and, at the same time, he’d get something accomplished. Gun control, health care. “But his true value is in opposing Sanders,” he concludes. Which is what I’d wanted to talk about in the first place, and he knows it.
He’s taken on a professorial tone, lecturing, which is appropriate enough; I’m the student, he’s the master. “It’s all about delegates. Every candidate will take a few. The early states all award proportionately and the pot will get split seven different ways. –Yes, seven; Gabbard’s a non-factor at this point, meaningless. If Bernie Sanders gets enough to win on the opening round it’s all over; but if the superdelegates come in, it’s a brokered convention. And that means a compromise candidate.”
I float my personal theory on the chaos that will result from this, mentioning what will go down in history as the “Harrowing Of Milwaukee”, the fires and the burning and blood in the streets, and he chuckles. “No, that doesn’t sound at all likely, does it? Riots in Milwaukee — heh. No, that’s not going to happen. Some Bernie Bros will stay home or even vote for Trump, but they weren’t going to vote for us anyway.” He leaves the us vague, and I don’t push.
“But what’s so dangerous about Sanders? Why oppose him in the first place?” I ask. “He does have some advantages; he brings in a lot of people who would never vote otherwise, and so on.”
“It’s not him that’s the big problem. It’s the down-ticket, the other candidates. Oh, yes; Sanders getting the nomination does change the electoral map, and not for the better; we maybe pick up some in the rust belt, but we lose Florida hands-down. Other states like Georgia, Texas, even North Carolina — they all swing to Trump. Means we absolutely need to take Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Colorado. Arizona. Puts stronghold states back in play.
“It’s that word: Socialist. We were raised to be afraid of it; it’s the boogeyman, Soviet Russia and all that. Scares people. And here’s Sanders, and he’s not even a little ashamed of it. He embraces it, shouts it out…
“So yes, there’s a case to be made that he might actually lose the election, which we wouldn’t really have to worry about with, say, Warren — or even Klobuchar, not that she’s got a real shot. But the vital thing is, he’d cost us in the down-ticket races, the Senate a little but mainly the House. If people start running for Congress because they’re Against Socialism, it’ll cost us big — might even cost us our majority.”
Which is the whole reason they’re backing Warren, he explains: Every delegate she gets is one the Sanders people don’t. “Not that I can tell you where the money came from; I can’t,” he says, giving me a broad grin and a wink. “But it’ll all come out before the Convention anyway; keep your eyes peeled and you’ll see. SuperPACs have to publish these things every thirty days or so, depending — if they want the donations to be tax-deductible, that is.”
And when it comes right down to it, they need another unity candidate waiting in the wings in case Biden folds on them. “We really need to put a stop to those rumors about Hillary Clinton. She doesn’t want it, not any more, and the Party wouldn’t take her if she did. And Buttigieg– no. Loathe the man. Doesn’t even pretend to stand for anything. No. You mark my words: It’s a brokered convention and if Biden screws this up Little Betsy Warren’s already got the nod.”
The flow of words dries up; maybe he thinks he’s said too much. He eyes my recorder and his drink drifts in that direction, but I snatch it up before he can plausibly spill it, and I dash out the door muttering excuses.
Which doesn’t matter, because this meeting never actually happened. I told you before:
I was never really here.
“…The Times has interviewed 93 party officials — all of them superdelegates, who could have a say on the nominee at the convention — and found overwhelming opposition to handing the Vermont senator the nomination if he arrived with the most delegates but fell short of a majority.”
-story in The New York Times
Yes, the foregoing is a work of fiction. The room is real, but I’ve never met anyone there; the opinions are real, but they were told to me by at least three different people, all at different times. Even the whisky is real — regrettably.
A decent bottle of The Balvenie costs about fourteen Coffees, incidentally; I mention this purely for comparison. But I’ve still got a few drops left in the old one, enough to fuel a tale or two yet.