Hillary Clinton vs. Bernie Sanders: the endgame appears

Bernie Sanders speaking in South Bronx, NY

Bernie Sanders speaking in South Bronx, NY

Last night’s Democratic Party primary results in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut and Rhode Island were clarifying for a couple of reasons. First, Hillary Clinton‘s wins over Bernie Sanders in four out of the five states other than tiny Rhode Island, especially her healthy and wide margins of victory, respectively, in delegate-rich Pennsylvania and Maryland, all but assured that Clinton will clinch the Democratic Party nomination for president. The other clarifying element of last night’s results was that the endgame for Clinton, Sanders and the Democratic Party finally started to emerge. Here’s what that endgame looked like:

First, Bernie Sanders’ wife Jane continued to stonewall regarding the Sanders’ release of multiple years’ worth of full tax returns. Jane Sanders had previously come up with the excuses that “I have to go back and find them” and “we haven’t been home for a month,” but she had promised to release such returns shortly. Yesterday, however, in response to a request for the taxes from CNN‘s Wolf Blitzer, Mrs. Sanders said that they would release the tax returns when Hillary Clinton releases her speech transcripts. Unfortunately, one thing has nothing to do with the other. Of the two, only tax returns are requested and released as a matter of course, and presidential candidates have been doing this for decades. Rather, this seemed like a pathetic attempt by Jane Sanders to distract from the Sanders’ refusal to release the tax returns, and appeared to indicate that the Sanders believe Bernie Sanders’ presidential quest is effectively over.

Second, Bernie Sanders did not attack Hillary Clinton in his post-primaries speech in West Virginia last night. This is notable, as Sanders has been especially uncharitable in such speeches, often attacking both Clinton and the Democratic Party itself.

Third, Hillary Clinton not only refrained from attacking Sanders in her post-primaries speech from Philadelphia, she actually praised Sanders, saying, for example: “I applaud Senator Sanders and his millions of supporters for challenging us to get unaccountable money out of our politics.” Clinton also attacked Donald Trump, and called for Democratic Party unity, both of which indicate that Clinton has turned her attention to the upcoming general election.

Fourth, the Sanders campaign released a statement last night, all but conceding the nomination (and congratulating Clinton on her wins), and instead focusing on the notion that “this campaign is going to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia with as many delegates as possible to fight for a progressive party platform.”

If events continue as they did yesterday, the Democratic Party could be setting itself up to coalesce this fall into a unified and very powerful force for November. One reminder of this came from Democratic strategist Paul Begala on CNN last night. Begala said that, when Clinton and Sanders served together in the U.S. Senate, “they voted together 93 percent of the time. If they were on Match.com, they’d be dating.”

Photo by Michael Vadon, used under Creative Commons license. http://is.gd/dWPeqx

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