Bad idea, although there’s a difference in the degree of badness here. Carville’s approach is hortatory: The race is now over, he says, which is true, and therefore Bernie should do the right thing by quitting and uniting the party. Democratic voters have already “shut down” the primary. It’s a simple matter of Team Bernie bowing to reality as soon as possible.
“Let’s shut this puppy down and… worry about November. This thing is decided.”
James Carville reacts to Joe Biden’s projected victories in Michigan, Missouri, and Mississippi pic.twitter.com/BAAvy7HSLI
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) March 11, 2020
Later in this same segment he proposed that Biden should call Sanders and see if they can work something out, although I don’t know what he means by that. Obviously Bernie’s not going to be VP. It’s hard to imagine him being given a cabinet position of any kind. Biden’s going to cream him next week in Florida, which will make the headlines for Sanders even worse, so it’s not like Joe’s feeling pressure to make concessions lest the race tighten again. Major Democratic Super PACs crowned Biden the presumptive nominee last night and announced that they’d immediately go to work for him against Trump. Everyone understands that the primary is over. It’s a pure matter now of whether Sanders wants to pack it in or pursue a vanity candidacy all the way to Milwaukee to demonstrate that his movement will fight for its agenda forever.
But it’s a bad idea to pressure him to pack it in. Even slight pressure, like encouragement to quit, will feed resentment among Berniebros. Already I’m seeing some of them on Twitter tweet in reply to Carville that he wouldn’t be so quick to usher Biden out of the race if it were Bernie piling up primary wins. The Democratic establishment has received a double blessing with Biden’s sudden surge of Joementum: Not only are they going to end up with a nominee who’s much more palatable to black voters and suburbanites than Sanders, they’re going to do it without any heavy-handed interventions from party leaders to tilt the scales towards Biden unfairly. There were no last-minute endorsements of Joe by the Obamas, no gigantic attack-ad spending binges funded by Mike Bloomberg. Bernie thoroughly outraised and out-organized Biden — and got walloped almost everywhere anyway. Sanders can’t even point to heroic efforts by his own base to get him nominated, as youth turnout in the primaries has been underwhelming. He just got beat. Democratic voters of almost all stripes prefer Joe. The closest thing to an establishment thumb on the scale was Pete “Who?” Buttigieg endorsing Biden the day before Super Tuesday, which is Politics 101.
When you’re on the brink of a notably “clean” win, with an embittered minority of the party forced to admit they were beat fair and square, you’d be a fool to start dirtying it up by applying pressure. If Sanders’s corner doesn’t want to throw in the towel now, let him go out there for the next round and get roundhoused in Florida and Arizona. They’ll quit soon enough.
Carville’s approach is tame compared to Clyburn’s approach, which recommends brute force. It’s time for the DNC to start canceling debates, he suggests.
NEW: House Majority Whip James Clyburn tells NPR if Bernie Sanders doesn’t win any states tonight, the Democratic National Committee should “shut this primary down” and “cancel the rest of these debates.” https://t.co/qdk7LADWXk pic.twitter.com/ZxbEOb6hPl
— NPR Politics (@nprpolitics) March 11, 2020
Again, why put a thumb on the scale when the outcome is already assured? A protracted primary won’t deepen the rift between progressives and moderates nearly as much as a truncated one designed to shove Sanders out of the race would. It’s insult to injury. Not only that, it’ll encourage the attacks from lefties lately that Old Man Biden’s lost a step and doesn’t have the mental wherewithal to compete over many months. “They’re shutting down the debates because they’re trying to hide Biden from the cameras!”
The guy’s done, what? Ten debates already? Just let him go out there on Sunday night. He’d literally have to forget his own name to make the race competitive at this point. I mean…
Biden is now leading *every county* in Michigan, Missouri and Mississippi pic.twitter.com/bX3cIY3SRq
— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) March 11, 2020
Bernie won Michigan and came within three-tenths of a point of winning Missouri in 2016. He’s getting run off the field and he knows it. There’s a real chance that he quits soon on his own terms.
[O]thers say Sanders has signaled that this time will be different — that he’s far more likely to jump than wait to get pushed. A scenario in which Sanders voluntarily quits — regardless of how long it takes — is the best way Democrats could coax his supporters to coalesce behind Biden, some Democrats argue…
The Sanders campaign was uncharacteristically quiet Tuesday. After cancelling a rally in Ohio due to coronavirus concerns, Sanders flew back to Burlington, Vermont. A Sanders aide said he would not address supporters after Michigan, Missouri and Mississippi were called for Biden…
“I’m not a masochist who wants to stay in a race that can’t be won. But right now, that’s a little bit premature,” Sanders told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Sunday. “Let’s not determine what will happen on Tuesday and what will happen in the future.”
The calculation within Team Bernie at this point may be as simple as “Let’s debate on Sunday and hope for a miracle. If Biden suddenly forgets where he is, Bernie’s back in it. If Biden seems coherent-ish, Sanders gets smoked next Tuesday and that’ll be the end.” Whether he quits today or a week from today, there’s a near-certainty that he’s out of the race within a week, I think.
Update: Is this it?
NEWS: Bernie Sanders to hold 1pm press conference in Burlington about his campaign.
— Sydney Ember (@melbournecoal) March 11, 2020
Like I say, I think he’ll hang in there for the debate. But I wouldn’t put the odds much higher than 50/50.
Update: As expected, the debate is his last stand.
— Ryan Nobles (@ryanobles) March 11, 2020
It’s messed up for him to ask people to keep turning out to vote as coronavirus spreads when the nomination is now a foregone conclusion, but okay. One more week.