Bernie's Soviet "honeymoon" and trips to Nicaragua and Cuba are disqualifying.

Bernheads have been spinning furiously that it “wasn’t really a honeymoon, duh”. But Politifact rated George Will’s characterization of it as exactly that, a honeymoon, “Mostly True”, and provided some background:

Now, let me be clear (a favorite Bernie-ism). I am not personally red-baiting Bernie by raising this. I visited the USSR a couple years later, still during the waning days of the Gorbachev era, and I was enormously sympathetic to the Soviet system at that time. Not the previous system, that trampled on human rights and civil liberties; and not what followed after the country broke apart. But for those five or six years, I believe they were absolutely on the right track, and that it’s a tragedy that they didn’t continue on it.

However, I can also be a grownup about it and understand that my believing this makes me absolutely unelectable in a presidential race, even if I weren’t already unelectable for a multitude of other reasons.

And it is naive for anyone to think that Bernie wasn’t somewhere in my ballpark, admiring what Gorbachev was doing. After all, he certainly admired the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, which Sanders visited in 1985, three years before his “honeymoon”:

I felt the same, and continue to feel warm and fuzzy toward the Sandinistas. But there is only a small sliver of the population with similar sentiments. For nearly everyone else in the cohort of voters old enough to remember the Cold War (and that’s a majority of all voters, BTW), this is serious pinko talk.

The above letter was unearthed by the UK Guardian, in a stash of papers that is sure to contain lots more goodies:

Any Bernhead who doesn’t think those 50 boxes are going to be a field day for the GOP oppo research team, in the event Bernie gets the nomination, is hopelessly naive.

And it wasn’t just Nicaragua and the USSR in those days, though that would be plenty. Bernie achieved a hat trick:

Look, it was a good idea to try to move the Overton Window a bit by backing a candidate who is a little more to the left than the usual suspects. But it was a wild, lurching move to go straight to Bernie. Way too far, way too soon.

I’m no great fan of Bernie’s, but this seems like much ado about nothing.

Sure, the trip the day after his wedding counts as his first travel with his new bride, so it’s a “honeymoon” in that respect, but the usual definition of honeymoon is something like “vacation spent together by a newly married couple,” and I’m not sure a regimen of business meetings and diplomacy conducted with ten of your closest coworkers really qualifies as ‘vacation.’

As for Castro, do you have anything that says Sanders wanted to meet him because he admired him, as opposed to wanting to meet him to discuss Cuban-American relations or other topics? Lots of people wanted to talk to Castro back then; consider, e.g., Pope John Paul II, not normally regarded as liberal or leftist, who finally traveled to Cuba a decade or so after Bernie (and that wasn’t the first time the pontiff met Fidel).

You left out the letter to the Sandinistas, which I think pretty well answers the other questions.

Yawn, its up the american people to decide if this makes him unelectable or not. Seeing as no one is particularly worried about the spectre of communism taking over the world anymore I’d say that most americans don’t give a shit that he went to the USSR even if it was his honeymoon.

I’m with you up to here. Bernie has been terrific and will continue to be terrific provided that the Dems don’t nominate him and he continues to focus on the issues rather than the clap-trap. Which is what this is. Unless he is actually nominated. In which case it’s electoral poison.

Widening the Overton Window is a good thing. I guess I’d like to know more about the next step though.

Disagree. The Republican slime machine would have a field day with this. How many Americans cared about Vietnam in 2004? As it turned out they could be persuaded to care when Kerry got Swiftboated with phony stories.

Okay, I can dig where you’re coming from. I wouldn’t be attacking Bernie if he were just getting 20% of the vote in every state. It’s my concern that he might actually *win *that gets me kinda panicky. If he fades as a threat for the nomination, then fine: he can Overton away. :cool:

And great point about the Swiftboating. Bernie’s communist holidays were actually slightly more recent than Vietnam was in '04. Also, these stories ain’t phony!

Sure the right wing crazies will froth at the mouth about this, but I don’t think it will get much traction. You could just as well say that Clinton’s mishandling of top secret material makes her unelectable. No matter who wins the Democrat nomination the Republicans will do their best to smear them. Always happens, always will.


In the period from 1975-1990, the USSR was arguably the least bad of the three imperial superpowers. China backed the notorious crazies Shining Path and the Khmer Rouge, while the USA got out of China’s way seeking an ally against Russia. The USA backed the murderous ruling class in El Salvador, the elites in Honduras, the heinous Contras, and Pinochet.

The Khmer Rouge were finally put down by Soviet affiliates out of Vietnam.

Meanwhile, the USA’s elites moved its manufacturing base to China, where very low-wage, low-benefits labor, and what has been characterized as slave labor, were legal. Oh, and also the high and mighty American right wing sold arms to the mullahs in Iran and used the proceeds to fund mass murderers in Nicaragua, *and *worked with Osama Binladin.

If Bernie was cozying up to the Russia bloc while the right wing were cozying up to the Maoists, yeah, he looks better than the people who have been running the country since then.

But by all means, let’s dredge up that history, and see what the younger generation think of it.

Not a fan of revolution as a political solution. But I won’t deny that there are situations so utterly wretched and evil that no other course is possible. The regime that the Sandanistas fought was just such a regime. A regime that had every reason to believe that America smiled down on them with affection and approval.

Were the Sandanistas Communists? Suppose, if you can accept a slight deviation from the Leninist/Maoist line, whereby they organize an election and, having lost, turn over government to a center right coalition. We fought a revolution over taxation, they fought a regime that ruled them by terror and murder. And held elections.

Like I said, revolution is war and war is darkness, no two ways. But I can’t find it in me to condemn someone who went there in sheer desperation.

You are right on the facts and the ideology but way way off on the politics. Even Noam Chomsky understands this, which is why he has said he doesn’t think Bernie has much of a chance.

Oh sure. The big difference is that Hillary has been smeared for 30 years and it’s already baked into her polling. In Bernie’s case he has a ways to fall. Bernie is the only self identified socialist in Congress. There aren’t many former members of the Young People’s Socialist League in American public life.

I’m hoping he wins in New Hamphire, then fades away. I predict he will win in New Hampshire, then fade away.
It’s all going* exactly according to plan.* BWHAHAHAAHAHAAHA!!!

I watched as much of the debate as I can stand, and can’t remember when I have ever watched two people agree so stridently and vociferously. “I concur!” POW! “Quite right about that1” SOCK! “You’re reasoning is sound and your argument clear!” WHAM!

Its like the WWE conducted by Unitarians.

We need not actually imagine whatever mindspace Bernie may have been in when he visited the USSR, or Nicaragua, or Cuba. The Republican opposition will be all too willing to fill in the blanks for the swing voters. It’s delusional to presume otherwise.

Sure, but it’s always nice to have a possible counter case to make.

Call me cynical, but do delegations on junkets to sister cities actually get much work done or are they just taxpayer-funded vacations? It’s not like he was over there negotiating on nuclear arms or trade policy.

So 28 years ago he took a trip to a country that no longer exists and he went to Central America to express opposition to a right wing dictator. The horror! What else you got, did he spit on a sidewalk somewhere? Didn’t rewind his VHS tape when he returned it? I thought the Red Scare was over.

The Republican candidates are all Republicans, which is an even greater disqualifier than Bernie’s vacations.

What, you think any of this is supposed to make sense? You’re talking about an ideological group that smeared a Vietnam war hero and turned him into an alleged traitor and coward to keep him from being elected. And Kerry wasn’t even a real threat, they just wanted the other guy – the one who came with all the PNAC warmongers and who turned out to be arguably the worst president in US history. Bernie, OTOH, is actually a real threat to right-wing interests. I can’t even imagine what they’ll do to him if he starts to look viable.


This doesn’t tell us anything about Bernie that we didn’t already know. Twenty eight years back he was a left-wing looney, and he’s consistent.