Yes, Bernie Sanders, the avuncular socialists who is giving Hillary Clinton a run for her money, was adorable on Saturday Night Live.
Before anybody is tempted to cuddle the 72-year old socialist, however, she should read Bret Stephens' column o this morning. Sanders, Stephens points out, is peddling a stale but apparently still exhilarating commodity: class warfare. Haven't we had enough of that?
Sanders' remarks in his recent debate with Mrs. Clinton boil down to, as Stephens characterizes it, this: Wall Street is "a fraud." Stephens writes:
No political or social penalties attach, in today’s America, to the wholesale indictment of this entire industry and the people who work in it. Had another presidential candidate made a similarly damning remark about some other profession—public-school teachers, say, or oil-rig workers—there would have been the usual outcry about false stereotypes, the decline of civility and so on. When Bernie says it about Wall Street there’s a collective shrug, if not nodding agreement.
Some six million people work in financial services in America, according to Commerce Department figures. Take only the securities and investment end of the business, and you’re still talking about 900,000 people, a population that considerably exceeds Vermont’s 626,000. Is Mr. Sanders suggesting that some large proportion of those 900,000 is in on the fraud; that every man among them is a Madoff—including David Wichs? And if they are the criminals he alleges, does he mean to put a few thousand of them behind bars?
Those are questions that ought to be put to Mr. Sanders, and ones his supporters might also want to ask themselves. The strength of the Sanders candidacy is said to lie in the purity of his idealism, especially in contrast to the morally flexible and ideologically ambidextrous candidacy of Mrs. Clinton.
But the reason Mr. Sanders is drawing his big crowds is neither his fanatical sincerity nor his avuncular charm. It’s that he’s preaching class hatred to people besotted by the politics of envy. Barack Obama, running for president eight years ago, famously suggested to Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher that “when you spread the wealth around it’s good for everybody.”
Mr. Sanders dispenses with the niceties. “I do not have millionaire or billionaire friends,” he boasts, as if there’s an income ceiling on virtue. That’s telling the 10,100,000 American households with a net worth of at least $1 million (excluding the value of their homes) to buzz off.
That said, I do think it is a hoot that Hillary Clinton, who is trying to outdo Sanders in the class warfare department, is being asked to release transcripts of speeches to Wall Street insiders for which she was paid millions of dollars. She can't release them.
She can't release them for one of two reasons: She said sensible things to Wall Street, hinting that, if president, she would not wage class warfare against an important segment of the U.S. economy. Or, the speeches were flimsy travelogues of her tenure at State, utterly worthless and, if released, would be seen as mere pretexts for a hefty cash infusion into the Clinton coffers.