Bernie Sanders' television program, released Monday night, showed that contrary to the belief of many of his detractors (and some of his supporters), the Vermont senator had more than a rhetoric.
There was the mode that he had used for the town hall party and the one he had used for the Fox News part – represented by presenters Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, who generously interposed the issues of the party. audience with their own questions.
Sanders was sincere and open when he was speaking directly to members of the audience or to the television audience. Asked about President Donald Trump, he explained with emotion how he hoped everyone could agree that a "pathological liar" should not be president. in his closing statement, he practically prayed for more courtesy in the country, without denying his insistence that the rich need to do more to meet the needs of working families.
However, when you spoke to Baier and MacCallum – or, in a few moments, directly to the chief observer of Fox News – Sanders was as piquant as you thought. "The president is watching your network a bit, is not it? He encouraged the guests to make more money than him. He explained that he would only give correct answers if he asked correct questions.
The uncomfortable dynamic between Sanders and the hosts has sometimes served to accentuate intellectual differences. At the beginning of the hour-long session, Mr. Baier asked whether Sanders' millionaire status (deserved, he said, from the success of his recent book) proved that capitalism was working; Bernie answered "no". After a break, he embarked on a mini-conference on the obligation to ensure a minimum standard of living for the less affluent of America.
Most often, however, the tension was uncomfortable. And it worked well for Sanders.
That was Bernie's crowd – to the apparent consternation of Fox's anchors
On the one hand, the audience was on his side.
After Sanders answered a public question about why government-provided private health care described his health care proposal, Baier decided to survey the public about it, asking if they would prefer it to their current private sector. -Health Insurance. (This framework evokes Barack Obama's famous promise that "if you love your health care, you can keep it" – which the Conservatives and Fox News often see as a symbol of Obamacare's broken promises.)
The poll … did not happen as Baier seems to have thought.
It is clear that Fox did not stack the town hall with conservatives or haters Bernie Sanders, while the first speaker was a student organizer from the conservative youth organization Turning Point USA, the latter was a progressive organizer who had is campaigning for Clinton.
But the questions of Baier and MacCallum were often rooted in conservative assumptions that a stereotypical viewer might have: that a reduction in the defense budget would "send a message" to other countries that the United States is weak , that asylum seekers need somewhere "because there is no place for them in the border communities (and therefore, implicitly, that they go to sanctuary towns). Sometimes Sanders simply avoided them without any decent gaffe or anything that primary Democratic voters could oppose.
Sometimes he fought back and challenged the question. "Why are you so shocked by this?" He challenged MacCallum during an exchange of talk about the payment of his health care proposal. When Baier called Sanders "an unconditional supporter of Congressman Ilhan Omar" in what was supposed to be a 15-second "flash", Sanders spent at least 15 seconds rejecting the premise: "Hold it, hold it, hold it. I spoke to him twice in my life "- before saying that he supported the right of a" Muslim member of Congress not to be attacked every day in outrageous racist statements ".
At the end of the public session, audience members were booing casual follow-up from Baier or MacCallum, even going as far as calling and answering with Sanders.
This may have proved the central point of Sanders's campaign rhetoric: the American people as a whole, not just the Progressive Democrats, really want the government to guarantee them a certain standard of living. This may just prove that Sanders is a good politician who is adept at presenting his favorite policies in a way that sounds good to people.
Whatever it is, Sanders looked like a favorite – which, if you look at the polls, is exactly what it is. Sanders is lagging behind former vice president Joe Biden in some polls, but Biden has not yet officially announced his candidacy. If Biden decides not to show up, pollsters believe that Sanders could inherit much of his followers, making it the prohibitive favorite.
This is a very unusual position for a politician who has gained national fame by defining himself against other Democrats. And it's an embarrassing fit with his gruff character. Sanders' prediction seems reasonable when he embarks on polls; but when there is no one to strike, a combative attitude can be ungenerous or even intimidating.
Fox News hosts provided the perfect flagship.
Sanders directed his irritation on them, giving the public a lot of Brooklyn Bernie, looking authentic, without being really irritated by any potential voter, and without saying anything negative about his fellow Democrats who would also show up to the presidency. When MacCallum invites him to attack Biden as a centrist or South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg for suggesting that Sanders may be too old, Sanders stubbornly – pointing out that Biden was a friend and that the main thing was that the voters hear the differences and take them into account. the spirit, or half joking about his distant past as a long distance runner.
The answer gave the impression that Sanders floated above the fray, in the manner of the pioneers. But he was not. He was fighting MacCallum and Fox News. And in the same way that one could win a debate – but not a typical city hall – he won.