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Oh Bernie


The great senator from Vermont was in Baltimore Tuesday, for a Real Talk tour of the city with black community leaders and activists. The tour included the neighborhood where Freddie Gray, who died in police custody in April, was arrested. The police officers charged with Gray's murder are in their second week of trial, right this second. Baltimore -- with its decrepit housing, absurdly high unemployment rates, and significant income inequality -- is the perfect backdrop for Sanders to recite his favorite talking points, sprinkled with some additional facts about how African-American communities are disproportionately affected by all the things Sanders wants to fix, with socialism and fairy dust.

Baltimore is not, however, the perfect backdrop for Bernie to address other topics:

This is not the first time the Sanders campaign has asked that everyone stay on topic. Meaning, the topics Sanders is most comfortable discussing. Immediately before the Democratic primary debate in November, which was immediately after the terrorist attacks in Paris, the campaign fought efforts by host CBS to devote a portion of the debate to foreign policy, given the big fat foreign policy topic of terrorism the entire world was discussing. The first part of the debate that ultimately did focus on foreign policy was not an especially impressive moment for any of the Democratic candidates because How Do You Solve A Problem Like Terrorism? is a difficult question to answer. At least until scientists finally invent a time machine so we can go back to 2003 and not invade Iraq and not turn the entire Middle East into a destabilized shit pile terrorist haven that increased the power of al Qaeda and led to the rise of ISIS and GAHHHHH FUCK YOU GEORGE BUSH!

Sorry, off topic.

Despite the admonition from an unnamed Sanders spokesperson, a rebellious reporter did raise the off-topic question at the end of Sanders's press conference, referring to the campaign's request and then asking, "Do you not want to talk about ISIS?"

"Of course I'll talk about ISIS!" Sanders said. "But today what we're talking about a community in which half of the people don't have jobs." Sanders then recited his familiar litany of issues -- income inequality, education, healthcare -- to growing applause in the room, as the attendees apparently didn't want to talk about ISIS either. "Obviously," Sanders added, ISIS and terrorism are important issues. But so are the issues Sanders is far more comfortable discussing.

"You want to ask me about ISIS? We will talk about ISIS," Sanders promised. Just not today. Not here. Not now. Another time, to be determined.

Look, we love Bernie Sanders. Of course we do! He was Wonkette's 2014 runner-up for Legislative Badass of the Year. We wear him on our bosom-parts, and so do you. We could listen to his 12-point plans to eat the rich all day long and all over again tomorrow. We think Sanders is an excellent senator from Vermont.

But the problem is that Sanders is running for president of the U.S. of Vermont and the Rest of America. And as much as we enjoy Sanders's promises of single-payer healthcare and free college, there are some duties of the president for which "fix income inequality" is not an adequate response. We can't make ISIS disappear by offering free college to the terrorists. (If only!)

And yes, we know that Sanders voted against the reckless, irresponsible, immoral clusterfucktastrophe of invading Iraq, unlike certain other candidates named Hillary Clinton, but while we remain grateful for that vote, we can't help but gently point out to our favorite socialist that "I voted against something more than a decade ago" is not exactly a detailed foreign policy plan.

Being able to address the topics of the day, even if they weren't supposed to be the topics of the day, is something the president must be able to do even if she (yeah yeah or he) hasn't rehearsed those talking points yet.

If Bernie Sanders wants to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate, and not merely the great independent socialist senator from Vermont, his campaign needs to stop asking the media to only talk about Sanders's favorite things and ignore the rest. That ain't how presidenting America works.

[Baltimore Sun]

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