Cockburn is something of a feminist, believe it or not, and he objects to the way female presidential candidates have their characters dissected in ways that male candidates simply do not. Cockburn believes that character criticism should equally apply to both sexes (if indeed there are only two). He can’t help wondering, then, why more questions aren’t asked about the true nature of Vermont senator Bernie Sanders.
Bernie’s fans never stop saying that the media is unfair to their candidate. They either ignore or smear him. But that’s not entirely true — often, the media has been guilty of underplaying stories about his unpleasantness.
It’s well established that Sanders is a prickly sort, with the New York Times dubbing him a ‘grumpy grandfather’. It seems, however, that Bernie’s level of crabbiness often goes beyond discontent over receiving orange-flavored gelatin rather than lime.
Throughout the 2016 and 2020 campaign cycles, Bernie has reacted snappily to reporters who ask him seemingly fair questions about his campaign — including how he intends to pay for Medicare-for-All and if he is capable of launching nuclear weapons if necessary.
Cockburn is no saint, so he can understand, and presidents have never had to be nice guys. But Bernie is widely lauded as a beautiful soul when he appears to be nothing of the kind.
In 2015, Bernie’s campaign was plagued with allegations of sexual harassment by staffers — and further accusations that Bernie turned a blind eye to such issues. In one case, a top campaign official for the 2016 campaign, Robert Becker, allegedly made sexual advances toward a much-younger staffer and told her he wanted her to ride his ‘pole’. Becker then apparently tried to weasel his way back into the 2020 campaign, prompting the woman to come forward.
‘Candidates who allow people like Robert Becker to lead their organizations shouldn’t earn the highest office in our government,’ the woman told Politico.
Becker was far from the only alleged harasser, according to staffers who expressed concerns that the pattern could continue on the 2020 campaign. Bernie boldly shunned any responsibility and, in fact, sounded quite annoyed with being questioned about sexual harassment, asserting, ‘I was a little bit busy running around the country trying to make the case’.
No less a person than The Spectator’s Washington editor, Amber Athey, asked Bernie about his ignorance of the issue outside of a quaint Tex-Mex restaurant in Washington, DC last year. He blustered again, as he often does with media, and denied ever having made the statement in question.
‘Why did you say you were too busy to pay attention to sexual harassment on your campaign?’ Amber asked, ever intrepid.
‘That’s not true’, Bernie chided, ‘that’s not true’, before booking it up a hill to escape. Cockburn admires the septuagenarian’s stamina. Unfortunately the question will remain unanswered for now, as Bernie keeps avoiding Cockburn’s inquiries by pretending to take other phone calls.
Does Bernie always express such indifference to his staff? A news outlet from his home state, Vermont, spoke to multiple anonymous staffers in 2015 who said Bernie was a horrible boss.
‘As a supervisor, he was unbelievably abusive,’ a former campaign staffer told Seven Days. ‘He did things that, if he found out that another supervisor was doing in a workplace, he would go after them. You can’t treat employees that way.’
A Democratic insider called Bernie an ‘asshole’, while a former Senate staffer accused him of ‘yelling in meetings all the time’.
Much like fellow Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Bernie admitted that he is tough on his staff, but denied ever having been overtly disrespectful or abusive.
‘Yes, I do work hard. Yes, I do demand a lot of the people who work with me. Yes, some people have left who were not happy. But I would say that by and large in my Senate office, in my House office, on my campaigns, the vast majority of people who have worked with me considered that to be a very, very good experience, and a learning experience and have gone on to do some great things’.
Sometimes Bernie even lashes out at voters. He accused people who disagree with him on healthcare of watching ‘Fox TV,’ and even asked a crying baby to ‘keep that down a little bit’. Is this snappiness appropriate for someone who wants to be commander-in-chief, or do voters prefer someone who is more even-keeled? Trump’s victory in 2016 suggests temperament might not be a top priority for voters. But Trump, for all his foibles, is widely known to be quite charming in person. Bernie, it seems, not so much. Kindness is bourgeois — and the revolution has no time for it.