Bernie Sanders is rising in the polls, and he had impressive moments in last night's debate -- and now, all of a sudden, a guy who's been flying under the media's radar is getting attention from pundits, and much of it isn't good.
* Vox's Ezra Klein thinks the newly announced Sanders health care plan deceives the public about the likelihood that it will lead to a fair number of denials of coverage.
*Paul Krugman thinks the plan will be painfully disruptive to people who already have decent employer-paid insurance, and believes the fight for the plan is unwinnable in the next eight years.
* Jonathan Chait thinks Sanders is downplaying the accomplishments of the Obama administration in the past seven years (greatly expanded health coverage, Dodd-Frank) and suspects that Sanders will struggle to upend the D.C. status quo.
* Both Chait and BooMan think Sanders will be hobbled in a general election campaign because he identifies himself as a socialist, given the fact that Americans regularly tell pollsters that they don't approve of socialism.
* Oh, and The Washington Post's Stephen Stromberg just thinks Sanders is too angry and shrill, a candidate whose "campaign is not about governing in the real world of trade-offs and constraints" -- a silly thing to say given the extreme intransigence of Washington Republicans, but a persuasive argument to a lot of Americans, who buy the notion that everything that's wrong with our government could be ameliorated if everyone (especially Democrats) would just play nice.
* And then there's the Hoover Institution's Paul Sperry, who, in the New York Post yesterday, previewed the campaign the right will roll out if Sanders wins the nomination in an op-ed titled "Don’t Be Fooled by Bernie Sanders -- He’s a Diehard Communist."
Welcome to the big leagues, senator.
We all know about the policy differences between Sanders and Hillary Clinton (and, obviously, between Sanders and the GOP field). We know that Sanders, if he becomes the nominee, would run as a proud social democrat, and also would run at a tremendous cash disadvantage -- yes, he gets a lot of small-dollar donations, but Republican fat cats, who until this moment haven't been able to unite on a candidate, would instantly band together and spend untold billions to defeat him.
But there's one more thing: Sanders would be the third Democratic nominee in the last eight presidential elections to emerge from New England, never having run a truly nasty race against a typical modern Republican. Is he any readier than Mike Dukakis and John Kerry were for the inevitable one-two punch of a GOP back-alley mugging and extra kicks from skeptical centrists and liberals?
Hillary Clinton has been struggling with this, even though it's what she's experienced for decades. Is Sanders ready for it? It'll be good if we find out now, rather than after he's the nominee.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog