There was an interesting back-and-forth on the Sunday shows over Bernie Sanders' performance in general election polls against Donald Trump, which is currently much better than Hillary's. Like, a lot lot better. Hillary had a bit of a moment on Meet the Press when she made the familiar argument that she's been weathering insane attacks for 25 years, while no one has laid a glove on Bernie, and told Chuck Todd "I don't think he's had a single negative ad ever run against him."
Bernie got the same question from Jake Tapper, and responded with an answer that I'd really love to hear a sane Bernie supporter like Cenk Uygur explain, because it seemed more to reinforce Hillary's point than anything:
TAPPER: it's just empirically -- you have not withstood the kind of decades-long beating that Hillary Clinton has, not to mention the year-long difficult coverage that Donald Trump has. Do you dispute that? You really think that the kind of coverage has been as piercing and critical of you as it has been on the other two?
SANDERS: Hey, check out some of the TV ads that were run against me in 2006 when I ran for the United States Senate, very ugly, very vicious, and a lot of crap has been out there, dishonest stuff about me.
Bernie's right about that, his Republican opponent ran a mess of nasty attack ads against him, the kind where you recast a vote against one thing as a vote for something else, the worst of which painted Bernie as pro-child molester, I shit you not:
But that ad ran in Vermont, and as clumsy and shitty as it was, it only underscores the fact that Bernie hasn't faced anything at all on a national level, beyond a mainstream media that has consistently underestimated him and a few attacks from Hillary that a Republican can't use anyway. Donald Trump isn't going to attack Bernie for being too pro-gun or trying to undermine Obamacare.
So here is my honest question for Cenk, who is a smart guy who can face facts, and maybe has already answered this and I missed it: how much of that lead Bernie enjoys over Trump would crumble just by virtue of the fact that he'd be getting attacked for the first time on a national level? Do Bernie supporters acknowledge any effect at all?
Because I'm a realist, I know Hillary's unfavorables aren't good news, and as sure as I know how I'd attack Bernie if I were a Republican strategist, I know how I'd attack Hillary too (not the way Trump is doing it, btw). There is a certain built-in immunity for Hillary that may or may not be overstated, but does exist.
What makes a smart guy like Cenk Uygur or anyone else think that Republicans can destroy a goddam war hero, but they won't be able to put a dent in a socialist with hours of public-access video and weekly appearances on Thom Hartmann's show and so on and so on, and fuck knows how many weird college essays? So how big is the dent?
Here's Bernie's response to that 2006 ad: