Politics & Media
Jan 02, 2024, 06:27AM

Get Off Bernie’s Back

Damn covid scolds.

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Bernie Sanders tweeted that he’d come down with Covid and would do his work from home for a while. Eye-rolling and tssk-ing ensued, as did bursts of furious denunciation. He was supposed to say he wouldn’t work at all, and he wasn’t supposed to describe his case as “minimal.” They said the Senator had his example pointing the wrong way: toward the idea that Covid’s something you live with, that afflicted workers ought to get out there and produce. He had to turn himself around, toward the idea that a cough means you rest in place until you deem your health work-viable again.

His error was pecked upon him in social media fashion. The crowd isn’t as big as it used to be, not on Elon’s Twitter, but they still bang their sticks against their garbage can lids. A round of officious, head-up-the-ass behavior directed against some person will get written off because of the backdoors social benefit that’s expected. The good side will win, the correct attitude will win, because Bernie or whoever knuckled under and accepted their assigned part in some collective, ongoing show of Mmmm-mm-yumm aimed at telling the saps that, really, everyone likes spinach (or whatever’s being pitched). The assumption is that there’s a p.r. campaign, one that morally overrides anything you might have to say for yourself. Forget this campaign, step out of line, and you must be snarled at and denounced.

Bernie’s a go-getter, so maybe he doesn’t like to rest. He’s a senator, so maybe he has pressing duties, duties that might possibly affect various people in need. And Bernie’s a politician, so maybe he’s resting after all but he doesn’t want taxpayers to know. In fact, if he did say he was resting, he might actually be working. Hard to verify. The lid bangers don’t care. They have their p.r. campaign in mind, not the bedrest habits of one elderly man. They want Bernie to say the right thing. He has to make the affirmation.

My reaction to the medium-grade cold now leaving my body would draw no comment from the Bernie attackers. I’ve been lounging about the place. Reading a biography of Michael O’Donoghue while sticking wet paper towels into plastic bags from the pita bakery—hard to be more leisured than that. But I think the Senator’s different. He’s really looking at files and emailing aides. New Year’s he drinks two glasses of Ginger Ale, watches an or so hour of a nature show, then he reads a file. Fine. I do what I do, God help me, because of myself. Bernie does what he does because of himself and not because he’s playing Mommy-likes-spinach on social media.

New punk. “Basically how government was going to run, the freedoms”—it’s like Sarah Palin teaching constitutional law. In Nikki Haley, the GOP has its one presidential contender who doesn’t come off as freakish. Let her words slide by and she seems like a sane, chipper kind of person, somebody who might handle a top-rank assignment. But as the political world now knows, those of her words that don’t slide by can be real doozies. For example, the now infamous “I think the cause of the Civil War was basically how government was going to run, the freedoms, and what people could and couldn’t do.”

Haley couldn’t say slavery, a truthful explanation for the war but one disliked by many Republicans. She really didn’t know what else to say. So she talked, just talked. She wasn’t even selling a bad case; she was babbling until people switched off their ears. South Carolina’s ex-governor, and she’s got nothing on slavery and no useful thoughts on associated topics.

Palin was a punk. She didn’t bother knowing anything, and when that note came due she tried to burble her way out of trouble. All right, now we’ve got Haley.


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