Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
In November, Barack Obama paid a call on George Soros. After maintaining a low profile since leaving office, the former chosen one showed up at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Washington D.C. where the Democracy Alliance was having its annual conclave to decide how to destroy the United States.
After a long Friday afternoon of hearing from assorted minions, members of the Democracy Alliance, who had contributed at least $200,000 to be part of Soros’ real-life SPECTRE alliance, minus the white cat, trooped into the Grand Ballroom for a “fireside chat” before a private dinner with Valerie Jarrett.
And Obama had a simple message for the mandarins in the Mandarin Oriental who had spent fortunes to elect lefties and transform the country. “The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it,” he told his radical audience. And warned that the Democrat agenda should not be driven by “certain left-leaning Twitter feeds or the activist wing of our party.”
Soros and the Democracy Alliance’s activist wing elected Obama to implement a radical agenda. Now he was warning his old backers that they were in danger of backing agendas that were just too radical.
The outreach was striking because Obama had tried to keep his distance from George Soros. In an interview, Soros had complained about being frozen out by Obama. “He made one phone call thanking me for my support, which was meant to last for five minutes,” the leftist billionaire whined.
Obama had no interest in letting Soros set his agenda. But now he was trying to set Soros’ agenda.
His sudden call for moderation had a target.
A Politico writeup in November, ‘Waiting for Obama’, noted that, “Obama said privately that if Bernie were running away with the nomination, Obama would speak up to stop him.”
“If Bernie were running away with it, I think maybe we would all have to say something. But I don’t think that’s likely. It’s not happening,” an anonymous Obama adviser said.
Bernie supporters furiously shot back. Headlines like, “The Real Barack Obama Has Finally Revealed Himself”, popped up on Jacobin: the Sandernista equivalent of Pravda, Der Sturmer, and Al Jazeera.
That same month, Deval Patrick, a favorite potential candidate of Valerie Jarrett and other Obamaworlders, suddenly and disastrously jumped into the 2020 race. With a Patrick event attracting two people, Obama switched his focus and began working behind the scenes to support Warren.
By December, Obama was urging Wall Street donors to back Elizabeth Warren. It didn’t work.
Bernie Sanders shot up to second place. And Obama was not counting on Biden to stop him. “And you know who really doesn’t have it? Joe Biden,” he had privately observed.
It’s January and Obamaworlders keep grousing about how to stop Bernie. And going nowhere.
“The strongest argument against Bernie will be showing that you can defeat Donald Trump,” one recently complained. “And he cannot.”
That’s certainly one problem.
Bernie Sanders has zero appeal to anyone except the white lefties who once backed Obama. Meanwhile Obama’s black voters remain solidly behind Biden. Obama’s only real way to stop Bernie would be to call on black voters to solidly support Biden creating a deep racial divide within an already divided party.
But there’s also the personal element. It’s not just Hillary who hates Bernie. The average Democrat operative views the socialist as a foreign element who undermines the party when he doesn’t need it, and is bringing in a ragged mob of radicals to take it over and fundamentally transform it. And, unlike Obama’s radicals, they have no social skills and little interest in working together with anyone else.
The Bernie base views Obama as a sellout. His signature policy trashes ObamaCare. And Obama cares.
Bernie’s rise is Obama’s nightmare. A race between Bernie and Trump leads to two bad outcomes. Either Trump wins, becomes a two-term president, and trashes Obama’s legacy. Or Bernie wins, and trashes Obama’s legacy while purging his allies and staffers from the DNC and the government.
The return of Bernie divides the party the same way he did in 2016. Either he loses and many of his voters stay home. Or he wins and more moderate Democrats become the ones to sit out the race.
And yet the man who had turned the party into his own cult can’t stop the next cult of personality.
The lightworker, the anointed one, the messiah has discovered that not only George Soros, but the earnest young lefties who once swooned for him have moved on. The arc of history is no longer his.
Obama’s comments at the Democracy Alliance’s shindig also a reflect tactical difference between his preference for remaking the system without tearing it down, and Bernie’s call for socialism now. It’s the same old division between working within the system or destroying it that divided the American Left.
The Obama era was the greatest triumph for the radicals, including the Weathermen, who ultimately decided that they could achieve more by working within the system than by setting off bombs. It was also the subject of that ancient argument between Vladimir Lenin and H.G. Wells about revolutions.
That consensus bypassed Bernie, once an obscure socialist crank, whose political life got a new lease when some ex-Obama marketers decided they need a way to cash in when Hillary wouldn’t hire them, and who was then embraced by a new generation of radicals who saw Obama as insufficiently radical.
Bernie’s political philosophy has been massaged to make it more appealing for a new era. But underneath the new embrace of identity politics and open borders, things he once opposed, he’s an unreconstructed radical with no interest in tactics, strategy, and how things work in the real world.
He just wants a revolution. That revolution threatens the hard work of Obama, Soros and many others.
And what does George think?
Earlier, Soros had been hinting that he might support Elizabeth Warren. He picked Hillary over Sanders in 2016. But Our Revolution, Bernie’s dark money organization, planned to solicit money from Soros. Due to the secrecy of both Soros and Our Revolution, it’s hard to know whether Soros ponied up.
But we do know that Our Revolution got its largest contribution of $100,000 from the Sixteen Thirty Fund which is partly funded by George Soros. And the activists powering Sanders, like Zack Exley, have often come through Open Society and other Soros network organizations.
Obama’s pitch to Soros and the rest of the radical donor class was that Bernie’s approach was outside the comfort zone of most Americans. Bernie, in George’s terms, was a bad investment who wouldn’t connect with voters and would hand President Trump another four years in the White House.
Senator Bernie Sanders, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, the squad, and the rest of the old new and new old radicals don’t actually do anything except talk. Bernie’s Medicare-for-All scam was so inept that it unintentionally brought down the campaigns of Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Kamala Harris.
Our Revolution lost a quarter of a million to an email scam. So much for that investment.
The single real-world accomplishment that Cortez has to her name took place outside the House, when she helped scuttle Amazon’s New York City HQ and the tens of thousands of jobs that came with it.
George Soros likes to invest in organizations and people who get things done. Obama wants a successor who will lock in and expand on his legacy. Neither of the two men are likely to get what they want.
Soros has already suggested that he won’t be supporting a primary candidate. Obama has tried two.
Obama is testing the waters. He’s hesitant to act openly because if he comes out against Bernie, and Bernie still sweeps through New Hampshire and Iowa, his credibility will be in ruins. Ever since leaving office, Obama has secretly nurtured the idea that he is the wise man and kingmaker of the party.
But what if he’s not?
Obama’s very real fear is that he’s irrelevant. Black voters will still follow him. Few others will. An endorsement from him would not be a profound game changer, but worth a few percent at best.
Coming out against Bernie would mean testing his brand against, not only Bernie, but Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Rep. Ilhan Omar, and dozens of radical Bernie proxies scattered across social media. While Obama vacationed, millennials like Cortez built social media cults of radical narcissism.
And Obama, the former radical narcissist-in-chief, has been out-radicalized and out-narcissicized.
The man who had once defined a political generation of Democrats has, like Bill Clinton, grown old and tired. The routines that Barack and Bill once pulled to seem hip, are passé. The celebrities they posed with are yesterday’s news. Their attempts to revive Kennedyesque political cool have become as antiquated as Jackie Kennedy’s pillbox hat and JFK’s preppy yachting outfits.
Worse still, Barry hasn’t been bypassed for a younger politician, but a formerly obscure elderly radical.
When your power is rooted not in ideas or principles, but hipness, then you live by the trend and die by it. George picked up Barry as his boy toy when he was a young crush. Now Barry’s old and only good for sonorously reciting clichés in the Mandarin Oriental while Soros uses him to collect another few million.
Obama so often spoke of the future, whom it would belong to, and whom it wouldn’t. Now he faces the fact that the future has passed him by. Whomever the future belongs to, it will not belong to him.