According to the New York Times, President Obama privately met with a group of Democratic donors last Friday and told them that Bernie Sanders’s campaign was coming to an end, so “the party must soon come together to back [Hillary Clinton].”
Obama is essentially required to remain neutral during the Democratic primary season, and while his comments were obtained by the Times through anonymous attendees of the event, a White House official later “confirmed” their validity—which means Obama and his administration wanted the press to make his stance public knowledge.
The New York Times confirms this: “His comments [were] a signal to Mr. Sanders that perpetuating his campaign, which is now an uphill climb, could only help the Republicans recapture the White House.”
It is true that Sanders remains the ultimate underdog and a long-shot for the nomination, but the primaries are nowhere near over. 28 states have yet to vote, and Sanders has promised to fight until the Democratic convention in July (and has more than enough money to do so).
For Obama to suggest this early that it is time for the party to unite behind Clinton is simply further evidence of the same, ingrained establishment power Sanders is attempting to dismantle.
The New York Times reports that Obama worked to address flaws of Clinton as a candidate, acknowledging her lack of “authenticity” and the marginal excitement surrounding her campaign, but nevertheless “[lavished] praise on Mrs. Clinton, describing her as smart, tough and experienced, and said that she would continue the work of his administration.”
This is troubling in a few respects. Clinton worked closely under Obama as Secretary of State, so it is unsurprising that he supports her, but many policies in his administration that Clinton would “continue” are the same ones Sanders has convinced a large base of Democratic voters are not in the country’s best interests: the Trans-Pacific Partnership, expansion of fracking, and lack of Wall Street regulation, to name a few.
Obama also slyly suggested that, “being authentic did not necessarily translate into being a good president, in his view.” Authenticity is a much better indication of leadership than changing your stance on almost any given issue throughout your career.
It appears the attendees of this event, hosted by a real estate executive, were raising money for the Democratic National Committee, and “paid as much as $33,400 a ticket.” Thus, it seems Obama was catering to the rich, corporate donors, who would support Clinton anyway (Sanders does not accept donor money)—so what was the point of his speech?
Unequivocally to send a message to Sanders and his campaign. Let’s hope Sanders pays no attention and fights the good fight until the very end.
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