One, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, they say, is leading the race to be the Democratic presidential nominee and the other is that President Donald Trump is trampling on the Constitution and (more) political norms.
First, Sen. Sanders: If you look at the delegate counts right now, after two tiny states have voted, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg is leading by one delegate. The popular vote, while interesting, doesn’t matter because that’s not how the Iowa caucuses assign delegates won.
In New Hampshire, which neighbors Sanders’ Vermont, the senator won the popular vote by about 1.5 percentage points, far from the 22 points he won by four years ago. I think the difference tells you more about how disliked Hillary Clinton was than how popular Sanders was. He indeed was facing 7 challengers this year but he dropped back to what many consider his ceiling in votes. General consensus is that he has a base of about 25 percent of the Democratic primary voters, which is where he’s been most of the time in polls. In a field of even eight, that’s a good amount but it can't be called outdistancing all his opponents.
But to call Sanders the front runner as of today is a bit far off the actual numbers. That’s not to say he isn’t a hot candidate. He is. But he’s not, yet, drawing from a broad swath of Democrats. It may show us, though, how important positive media coverage is especially in a primary if one candidate is continuously hawked as the front-runner.
Former Vice President Joe Biden is in a hole, obviously, but his people must have always known he would be. He never has done well in primaries or in Iowa and he may continue that bad streak this year. He definitely needs to finish first or second in Nevada and first in South Carolina to be called anything close to a front-runner. Or even a contender.
Also, Sanders is no Donald Trump, but in one sense he may be. Trump took over the GOP four years ago and he was definitely an outsider with no known base to draw from. Now, he’s the GOP leader because he’s President and because nearly every elected Republican is scared to death of him. Sanders is not even a registered Democrat and refuses to register as one even as he criticizes the party for allegedly opposing him as the candidate (uh, calling yourself a Democratic Socialist probably isn’t the best label against Trump, but at least it’s honest).
In any event, in that sense Bernie is a Trump -- an outsider trying to take over the party. Trump succeeded. Will Sanders?
Which leads us to Trump’s hullabaloo.
He barely took a breath from being acquitted of the impeachment charges (thanks to a nearly unanimous GOP vote in the Senate). And he began his revenge, firing people, pulling federal job nominations away from people, using his might to try to get a reduced sentence for Roger Stone (well, a reduced recommendation, sort of. It’s up to the judge to declare a sentence), he’s bringing back allies to the White House (the highly partisan Trump-backer Cong. Mark Meadows, most likely, and this morning it’s reported that Hope Hicks is making a return engagement).
On Stone, the sentence recommendation, according to many experts, was harsh but it’s what the prosecutors recommended after, supposedly, running it up their chain of command at the Justice Department as is the rule. As soon as their superiors, after a presidential tweet, distanced themselves and entered a no recommendation to the court, the four prosecutors pulled their names off the case, and, further, one resigned from the department. None, yet, has explained his or her reasons.
Trump dismissed these prosecutors because in his transactional and vengeful mind, they were part of Bob Mueller’s team and, therefore, tainted by politics. His supporters, elected and average man and woman, of course, take up that talking point immediately because they indeed believe there is a “deep state” against Trump.
He also corrals all his “opponents” in DC into “the swamp” that he claims to be draining. He isn’t. He is simply removing anyone who opposes him and calls them swamp creatures while replacing them with his own swamp dwellers.
With Trump there is always an enemy, has to be for his form of leadership to work, and he is still using Mueller/his team and the Clintons.
Far more importantly, he is learning that he can use his position and power to do favors for his compadres right out in the open, and he pays no price whatsoever. So, why not push the envelope further?
And he will. Will anyone in power push back?