The botched Iowa caucuses have raised many legitimate questions about the Democratic establishment, but to understand the point we’re at now, it’s necessary to think back several years. According to Grayzone journalist and editor Max Blumenthal, Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer’s guest on the latest installment of “Scheer Intelligence,” part of the backlash Bernie Sanders is currently experiencing as he attempts to transform the Democratic Party dates back to Bill Clinton’s presidency.
“[Bill and Hillary Clinton] set up a machine that was really a juggernaut with all this corporate money they brought in through the Democratic Leadership Committee,” says Blumenthal. “It was a very different structure than we'd seen with previous democratic candidates who relied heavily on unions and the Civil Rights Coalition.
“And that machine never went away,” the journalist goes on. “It kept growing kind of like this amoeba that began to engulf the party and politics itself. So that when Bill Clinton was out of power, the machine was passed to Hillary Clinton, and the machine followed her into the Senate. And the machine grew into the Clinton Global Initiative.”
Speaking of his personal experience with the Clintons, Blumenthal tells Scheer he once met Chelsea Clinton and thought of her as an “admirable figure at that time” who had undergone humiliation and bullying on a national scale as she went through an “awkward phase” as a child. His memory of the child he once met made what followed all the more devastating to watch, Blumenthal laments.
“I've watched her grow into adulthood and become a complete kind of replication of the monstrous political apparatus that her family has set up, without really charting her own path,” he says. “She just basically inherited the reign of the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative. She does paid talks for Israel. Her husband Marc Mezvinsky, he gambled on Greece's debt along with Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs.
“I mean, as a young person,” Blumenthal adds, “seeing someone of my generation grow up and follow that path, do nothing to carve out her own space---it just absolutely disgusts me.”
The conversation between Blumenthal and Scheer centers largely around two subjects that overlap with the current presidential election and primaries: the rightward shift of the Democratic Party and Israeli politics. Partly the two subjects converge in talking about Sanders, the man who could very well become the first Jewish president of the United States. Scheer asks Blumenthal to draw on his experiences growing up close to the Clintons, due to his parents’, Sidney and Jacqueline Blumenthal, ties to the administration, and is linked to Blumenthal’s most recent book, “The Management of Savagery: How America's National Security State Fueled the Rise of Al Qaeda, Isis, and Donald Trump.”
“It seems to me [there is] a real contradiction [in] the Democratic Party, which you know quite a bit about, [when it comes to Israel],” says Scheer. “There's this great loathsome feeling about Donald Trump. And many of these people don't really like Netanyahu. You know, the polling data shows that Jews are, you know, just about as open to the concern for the Palestinians as any other group. And Bernie Sanders, the one Jewish candidate, is the one who dared to bring up the Palestinians--that they have rights also, that they're human beings. He's being attacked for it as, like you, a self-hating Jew.”
Blumenthal, whose 2013 book “Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel” touches upon many questions absent in the American conversation about Israel, points out how the Vermont senator’s own position on Palestine has shifted over time.
“Bernie Sanders [is] better than most of the other [Democratic] candidates on this issue,” says the Grayzone reporter. “After we put a lot of pressure on him in the left wing-grassroots--I mean, I personally protested him at a 2016 event for his position on Palestinians, and we shamed him until he took at least a slightly better position, where you acknowledge the humanity of Palestinians.”
The two journalists discuss what some of the main reasons Sanders is facing so much resistance within the Democratic Party, in addition to his views on Palestine. Blumenthal believes there will be a repeat of what happened in 1972 when George McGovern ran for president.
“I think that if Bernie Sanders gets the nomination, there will be an effort to ‘McGovern’ him,” he posits. “[The Democratic Party will] hope that Bernie Sanders gets destroyed by Donald Trump, and then wag their fingers at the left for the next 20 years until they get another Bill Clinton.
“I think that they don't know how to stop him at this point,” Blumenthal continues, “but they're willing to let him be the nominee and go down to Donald Trump, because Bernie Sanders threatens their interests, and the movement behind him particularly, more than Donald Trump does.”
Listen to the full discussion between Blumenthal and Scheer, which took place aptly on the eve of the Iowa caucuses that, at the time, Blumenthal assumed would be a landslide win for Sanders.