February 29, 2016


When Bernie Sanders Thought Castro and the Sandinistas Could Teach America a Lesson (Michael Moynihan, 2/29/16, Daily Beast)

If CNN can ambush Sanders by reaching back to 1974 and his not-entirely-unreasonable criticism of the CIA, perhaps another enterprising television journalist will ask the candidate-of-consistency one of the following questions:

-- Do you think that American foreign policy gives people cancer?
-- Do you think a state of war--be it against the Vietnamese communists, Nicaraguan anti-communists, or al Qaeda's Islamists--justifies the curtailment of press freedoms?
-- Do you stand by your qualified-but-fulsome praise of the totalitarian regime in Cuba? Do you stand by your unqualified-and-fulsome praise of the totalitarian Sandinista regime in Nicaragua?
-- Do you believe that bread lines are a sign of economic health?
-- Do you think the Reagan administration was engaged in the funding and commissioning of terrorism?

A weird palette of questions, sure, but when Sanders was mayor of Burlington, he answered "yes" to all of them. Hidden on spools of microfilm, buried in muffled and grainy videos of press conferences and public appearances, Mayor Sanders enumerated detailed--and radical--foreign-policy positions and explained his brand of socialism. (If you find foreign-policy debates tedious, feel free to ask Sanders if he still believes that "the basic truth of politics is primarily class struggle"; that "democracy means public ownership of the major means of production"; or that "both the Democratic and Republican parties represent the ruling class.")

In the 1980s, any Bernie Sanders event or interview inevitably wended toward a denunciation of Washington's Central America policy, typically punctuated with a full-throated defense of the dictatorship in Nicaragua. As one sympathetic biographer wrote in 1991, Sanders "probably has done more than any other elected politician in the country to actively support the Sandinistas and their revolution." Reflecting on a Potemkin tour of revolutionary Nicaragua he took in 1985, Sanders marveled that he was, "believe it or not, the highest ranking American official" to attend a parade celebrating the Sandinista seizure of power.

It's quite easy to believe, actually, when one wonders what elected American official would knowingly join a group of largely unelected officials of various "fraternal" Soviet dictatorships while, just a few feet away, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega bellows into a microphone that the United States is governed by a criminal band of terrorists.

Posted by at February 29, 2016 4:28 PM