I, like hordes of others, feel the Bern. With his thick Brooklyn accent, rolled-up shirt sleeves and bare-bones language, Bernie Sanders has the cajones to say what no other politician dares: “If the Koch brothers and the billionaire class hate my guts, I welcome their hatred. Because I am going to stand with working families.”
Right on! You tell 'em, Bernie! However, it begs the question: How are the billionaires planning to bring him down? How low will they go to eat him alive? So I did a little digging into Bernie's past and came up with six ingredients that they might use in a "schmear" campaign. Introducing the billionaires' Bernie slanders.
The Schmear: Bernie Sanders is not a U.S. citizen.
The Spiel: Bernie Sanders would be the first Jewish president. His father was an immigrant from Poland whose family was killed in the Holocaust, and his mother was born to Jewish parents in New York City. It was common for Jewish immigrants that moved here after the Holocaust to change their last names, and Sanders’ original family name was Glassberg. Hoo-boy! Are the haters gonna love this!
The Billionaire Backer: Donald Trump
The Campaign: With the Donald leading the charge, the birthers will accuse him of being a citizen of Poland and residing in this country illegally. Trump will pledge to evict all American citizens of Eastern European descent and to have a fence built around the U.S. by election day. While he's at it, he'll build one around Poland, too.
The Copy: This man is not who he says he is. What else is Bernie Glassberg lying about?
The Tag: Bernie Sanders: show us your birth certificate!
The Cream Cheese
The Schmear: Bernie Sanders is too old.
The Spiel: With hair as white as Philadelphia cream cheese (and just as thick, without the guar gum), at age 75 (upon inauguration), Bernie would be the oldest president to take office. But there were other Philadelphians with white hair too, namely, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. While Reagan left the White House at the age of 77, Bernie, at the end of his first term, would have a longer shelf life at 79.
The Billionaire Backer: The Koch brothers
The Campaign: The Kochs will have their 1%-fat cronies who own the major health insurance companies dig through Bernie’s medical records to find a smoking gun. If they don’t find a pre-existing condition, don't worry, it'll still be covered. A TV spot will show a close-up of an x-ray of a heart with clogged arteries. Pan back to see it's sitting on a bed stand next to a telephone, a glass of dentures and a hearing aid which the camera zooms in on. The phone rings, and we hear a voiceover.
The Copy: It’s 3 am. Iran just deployed a nuclear weapon. There's a phone ringing in the White House. Shouldn’t someone answer it?
The Tag: Bernie Sanders. He can't hear you.
The Schmear: Bernie Sanders is a socialist.
The Spiel: Smoked salmon is popular in both Jewish culture and in Scandinavian countries. And Bernie calls himself a “democratic socialist” like in Scandinavia, which advocates a democratic political system alongside a socialist economic system. However, when Bernie was in college, he was a member of the Young People’s Socialist League—the youth affiliate of the Socialist Party of America. However you slice it, he will be branded a radical.
The Billionaire Backer: The Walton Family (owners of Walmart—not John Boy and company)
The Campaign: Full-page ads with a picture of Bernie standing next to a different leader in each ad: Karl Marx in a factory, Stalin in a gulag and Mao in a rice field.
The Copy: Bernie Sanders wants to take away your home, your car, your clothes and your big-screen TV. Can we really afford a President Sanders? He's bad for business and bad for labor.
The Tag: Bernie Sanders. Never low prices.
The Schmear: Bernie Sanders hates Israel.
The Spiel: While Sanders appears to have a pro-Israel stance, when you peel away the layers, it’s not so clear. Though he lived in a kibbutz for a few months in the 1960s, earlier this year, he was the first Senator to announce that he would skip Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of Congress. And in 1988, Sanders didn't mince words when he condemned Israeli attacks on Palestinians as “reprehensible.” That’s enough to make a poor billionaire hawk cry big, onion tears.
The Billionaire Backer: Sheldon Adelson
The Campaign: A TV spot filmed inside a Jewish sanctuary shows an empty energy bar wrapper next to a torah on a pulpit, and we hear religious, cantorial music with a voiceover.
The Copy: Once, Bernie Sanders ate an energy bar before sundown on Yom Kippur. Can we trust this man to support Israel when he won’t even fast on the holiest day of the year?
The Tag: Think you know Bernie Sanders? Not so fast!
The Schmear: Bernie Sanders is a womanizer.
The Spiel: While Bernie Sanders is no tomato-chasing lothario, he did have a child out of wedlock (hey, it was the '60s). Sanders married his college sweetheart Deborah Shiling in 1964, but they had no children and divorced in 1966. His son, Levi Sanders, was born in 1969 to Susan Campbell Mott. In 1988, Sanders wed Jane O'Meara Driscoll and considers her three children his own. While he would be only the second divorced president in history (Reagan was the first), he wouldn’t be the only president to sire a love child. Thomas Jefferson, Warren G. Harding and Grover Cleveland did, and rumor has it that William Henry Harrison and John Tyler did too. At least Bernie didn’t hook up with one of his slaves.
The Billionaire Backer: Donald Sterling
The Campaign: Different TV spots with present-day Bernie and a different slutty, young woman. We hear a slow, sexy song with lots of groans (think Barry White) and a voiceover.
The Copy: In the 1960s, Bernie Sanders fathered a child out of wedlock. Will he be up to his old tricks in the White House?
The Tag: Bernie Sanders. Just another horny democrat.
The Schmear: Bernie Sanders is a criminal.
The Spiel: While attending the University of Chicago, Bernie was involved in many protest activities in the Civil Rights Movement, including the March on Washington. As a student organizer for the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, he coordinated sit-in protests against segregated campus housing, for which he was arrested.
The Billionaire Backer: Wall Street CEOs of Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase
The Campaign: TV spot with Bernie in a prison uniform in solitary confinement.
The Copy: This man has a criminal record. Think he's too big to jail?
The Tag: Bernie Sanders belongs in the big house, not the White House.
Hang in there, Bernie! Us 99 per centers have your back!