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.