There is a bizarre conflict between NBC and former Secretary of State John Kerry after an unnamed NBC analyst reported overhearing a phone call in which Kerry discussed entering the presidential race to avoid “the possibility of Bernie Sanders taking down the Democratic Party — down whole.” What is most interesting is Kerry’s alleged details, including how donors like venture capitalist Doug Hickey would have to “raise a couple of million” to help him block Sanders. Kerry’s comments are part of an increasingly open effort by the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic establishment to guarantee that Sanders will wins the nomination. Kerry later denied that he was contemplating a run and said that “any report otherwise is f**king (or categorically) false. It sounds a lot like “I was against entering the race before I was for it.
Kerry’s alleged comments comes as Hillary Clinton has continued her attacks on Sanders and the DNC appointed two Clinton allies to head the convention while DNC members discuss rolling back on reforms to block Sanders. These stories reaffirm the view of many that the Democratic establishment continues to resist the idea of a democratically selected nominee and remained aligned with powerful interests, including Wall Street investors, who are demanding that Sanders be shutout.
There are a couple of striking elements to the alleged Kerry call. First, is the utter cluelessness. Kerry was a perfectly horrible presidential candidate who could not seem to make a decision or maintain a single coherent position even as this fault was being ridiculed in the media. Yet, he reportedly considered running this year despite the continued resistance to the establishment and his embodiment of everything that young voters despise in the Democratic party. Second, it is a curious call given the fact that Kerry is campaigning for Biden. It would suggest that Kerry not only thinks Sanders has a real chance but that Biden is damaged goods. At a minimum, it rising the panic from Democratic source, like Kerry’s friend, about the need for drastic action to stop the rising support of Sanders.
Finally, and most telling, is how Kerry allegedly linked any campaign to investors like Hickey funding him. It is precisely what Sanders supporters have been denouncing in how figures like Clinton and Kerry were cutouts for Wall Street. This view was reaffirmed by Hillary Clinton’s successful refusal to allow her speeches to Wall Street investors to be released.
He told NBC News: “This is a complete and total misinterpretation based on overhearing only one side of a phone conversation. A friend who watches too much cable called me wondering whether I’d ever jump into the race late in the game if Democrats were choosing an unelectable nominee. I listed all the reasons I could not possibly do that and would not — and will not under any circumstances — do that.” That is a curious defense because it does not deny his words. It is hard to misinterpret a specific suggestions of Hickey and Wall Street funding your campaign. Yet, putting that aside, it is Kerry’s immediate reference to such big money donors as the only way to fight Sanders and allow him to run.
The call virtually writes a campaign commercial for Sanders. All of these moves by Clinton and Kerry only reinforce the support for Sanders and make an eventual unification of the party more difficult — particularly if Sanders enters with the most votes but short of a lock on the nomination. The establishment might then push Bloomberg or others as a convention substitute or preferred nominee, creating a deep rift in the party.