Forget the sinking ship that is Joe Biden’s presidential campaign for a moment. The major health scare recently suffered by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) shakes up the Dem 2020 field in a far more significant way.
Biden’s frontrunner status was always more myth than reality, with name recognition accounting more for his high poll ratings than any clamor to have the 50-year politician and face of outdated establishment politics carry the Dem flag. The party grassroots want a staunch progressive candidate. In what has been from the beginning a remarkably weak pool of candidates, Sanders supporters had every reason to believe that their man could claim the nomination. He was guaranteed top-tier status from the start and raising money has not been a problem.
Just Not His Time?
But the primary dynamic has been wrong for Sanders this time around in just about all ways. Missing the perfect foil for his blue-collar progressive appeal that was 2016 rival Hillary Clinton, Sanders has been forced to join the rest of the candidates in meekly pledging allegiance to radical leftist social tropes. The anger that served him so well four years ago as a sign of righteous disdain for Swamp politics now comes across as surly grumpiness when surrounded by a dozen or so fellow yapping leftists on the campaign trail. As much as Biden, Sanders now looks four long years older than he did while leading the rebel alliance against the Hillary Empire.
And that was before the heart “incident,” now confirmed to have been a heart attack. Beyond the very serious health implications, the Sanders campaign is certain to suffer greatly on optics going forward. If Sanders doesn’t make the scheduled Oct. 15 Democratic debate in Westerville, Ohio, it will be a devastating blow to his campaign. Yet if he does appear and looks tired and haggard, which is perfectly natural and to be fully expected of a 78-year-old man who just had a major heart event, that will be every bit as crushing, if not more.
According to the Texas Heart Institute, recovery from a heart attack calls for a sustained period of “rest and relaxation.” The organization states that a “return to all of your normal activities, including work, may take a few weeks to 2 or 3 months, depending on your condition….
“You will recover quicker if you avoid stress, temperature extremes, and conditions that place an added load on your heart.”
Bernie Sanders is 78 years old. He is elderly. A reasonable prognosis for recovery would place him at the conservative end of all these guidelines. To have this man participate in a presidential primary debate two weeks later is literally to risk his life. And yet if Sanders does not show, his absence will speak volumes about his physical inability to serve as president.
Dying to Be President?
Just how much Sanders’ health scare is going to hurt him on the campaign trail was inadvertently captured by a stunningly tone-deaf show of support from one of his most important backers. RoseAnn DeMoro is a former top union executive whom Sanders has referred to as an “invaluable ally.” She frequently posts on an energetic Twitter account, often criticizing the DNC and other Sanders rivals in a combative manner.
After news of Sanders’ hospitalization broke, she posted the following amazing tweet:
There are numerous presidents who have had heart problems & health problems far worse than @SenSanders
That’s why we have VP’s, etc.
A stent isn’t a death sentence. In fact, it can improve one’s health.
— RoseAnn DeMoro (@RoseAnnDeMoro) October 2, 2019
How’s that for a campaign slogan? “Vote Bernie! If he dies in office, well, that’s what vice presidents are for!” Make no mistake, folks. Sanders is in deep, deep trouble.
Conventional wisdom would suggest that Biden’s steady fall and Sanders’ heart problems have paved the way for the coronation of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as the party nominee. Not so fast. The major liabilities that Warren brings with her all still remain. Not a single primary vote has been cast yet, and it is almost impossible to envision the cloying and strikingly uncharismatic Warren running away from anybody so soon.
What is more likely to happen is that she will now become the main target of the remaining candidates, something we have not seen yet. This may very well bring some of her worst qualities as a candidate to the fore. Warren can be astonishingly poor at responding to sharp criticism, as her Native American DNA fiasco so clearly showed. Everything she did in addressing the most serious negative attack to her candidacy was wrong. She was stubborn in clinging to a clearly false narrative about her heritage, she played into her opponents’ hands by getting a DNA test and then she tried to pander her way out of the jam she got herself in by babbling about perceived realities as the stark fact that she apparently used a bogus minority standing for personal career gain loomed like an enormous black cloud over her head.
Warren has skated through the first three Dem debates virtually unscathed. Now she is about to face the brunt of political attacks from her rivals. Based on what we’ve seen in terms of damage control from her already, there is no reason to believe she will acquit herself well. And if she doesn’t, it is anybody’s guess which mediocre Dem will be the next to “surge” to the surface. Bernie and Biden are reeling. If Warren stumbles, we will be witnessing the complete deterioration of the so-called “top tier” of Dem 2020 candidates. And then the real chaos will begin.