Over at CNN’s web site, Joe Lockhart makes a good point—Bernie Sanders hasn’t received a great deal of serious scrutiny:
(CNN)As a party loyalist, as opposed to someone supporting an individual candidate, the most important thing to me is nominating a candidate who can win in the general election. And a key component of that goal is making sure your party’s nominee is fully vetted and scrutinized before they win the nomination, not after.
There are several reasons for this. First, you want to make sure the nominee can take a punch, because once the opposing party gets involved, you can be sure these will be delivered aggressively. Second, and as important, you want to fully air all controversial statements, votes and other activities before the general election, so that your nominee can legitimately claim these issues are old news and have been addressed. There is nothing more dangerous than having a new issue raised by your general election opponent at a key moment in the race.
Thus, while it may seem counter-intuitive, I want all the primary candidates to scrutinize their opponents, attack their records and have full coverage of it in the media. These scrutiny stories need three elements — good opposition research, an enterprising reporter and another candidate willing to make the case in public for the relevance of the information.
In the race for the Democratic nomination, the process has worked fairly well. Opposition researchers, reporters and other candidates have made strong cases raising questions about the records of former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. With differing degrees of success, each of these candidates has been forced to deal with their own political vulnerabilities. At a minimum, most of what President Donald Trump will attack them on has already been litigated in the primary run.
The exception to this rule, and a worry to many Democrats, has been the relatively lax scrutiny of Senator Bernie Sanders.
The most votes he’s ever received is 207,848. Let’s put it this way. Lori Lightfoot got more votes when she was elected mayor of Chicago. The only state smaller than Vermont in population is Wyoming. So far he’s been shielded from that kind of scrutiny, probably because the press didn’t take him seriously.
Mr. Lockhart goes on to list a number of things that could use a close, hard look:
- Support for Fidel Castro
- Criticism of the Democratic Party and Barack Obama
- Opposition to the Brady Bill
- Call for the abolition of all laws that interfere with the constitutional right of citizens to bear arms
and then, of course, there’s his embrace of the label “socialism”, his support for Chavez, and his recent exchange with Elizabeth Warren.
I have a feeling it’s going to be a long few months.