Bernie Sanders? Really?
“It’s the first big misstep of the 2020 Democratic primary season,” announced Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post on Wednesday.

Asked at a CNN town hall whether incarcerated felons such as the Boston Marathon bomber should have the right to vote, Bernie Sanders responded with an emphatic “yes.”

“As the words left his mouth, Sanders could see the shape of the attack ads that could be used against him,” reported WP reporter Cleve R. Wootson Jr.

But the alarm over Sanders’ comments was not sounded by his supporters as much as by his detractors. It seemed to dawn on a lot of people at once this week that a socialist was on a trajectory that could win him the Democratic nomination. “Bernie Sanders Scares a Lot of People, and Quite a Few of Them Are Democrats,” wrote Thomas B. Edsall in The Times .

The fun that Democrats were having with shiny new objects like Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg came to a joyless halt amid fears that Sanders could lead their party to a disastrous loss next November. “The prospect of a Sanders nomination is spooking establishment-aligned Democrats,” reported Jonathan Martin in The Times .

Everything seemed to add to the anxiety this week. Kamala Harris fell flat on CNN when thrown the same question about prisoners’ right to vote. “We should have that conversation,” she answered, puzzling her questioner as well as a few million viewers.

The storyline of Mayor Pete’s inexorable rise hit a sputtering moment of its own. “Pete Buttigieg is struggling to win over black voters despite 2020 surge,” reported Newsweek and countless others , as polls found that only two percent of nonwhite voters are supporting his candidacy.

Republicans were gleeful over the Democratic angst. “The worry is that Senator Sanders’ grumpy-Muppet shtick will not discreetly charm the bourgeoisie,” wrote Kevin Williamson in the National Review . “The moneymen of the party already are so alarmed that they are making approximately the same sound that Donald Sutherland makes at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

It was into this stressed-out environment that Joe Biden, a reassuring figure if ever there was one, entered the fray. He said all the right things and uttered all the right words (“ we are in the battle for the soul of this nation ”). But the thicket of makeup filling in the lines on his face only made us more aware that a 76-year-old candidate was gearing up to do battle against a 77-year-old competitor. For some reason, that didn’t feel comforting either.

Nate Silver tried to talk Democrats off the ledge. “If there’s one thing the Democratic establishment is good at, it’s panicking,” he wrote in 538 . He pegged Sanders’ chances of winning at only 20 percent. Feel better?

The fact is, there will be no effective chill pill for Democrats this election season – the stakes are too high. Getting some exercise and maintaining a healthy diet might help a bit. But ultimately there’s no cure for Donald Trump except a good night at the polls next November.
As for the Mad King...
The dark clouds over the White House failed to clear this week, as details of the president’s alarming efforts to obstruct justice came into further relief. Yet Trump, like Cersei, remained in his castle.

Someday, perhaps, the president will be led out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with hordes of voters chanting ‘shame!” If that happens, we hope to be there to see it, providing he keeps his clothes on.
The Postmen Leaveth
It was with sadness that we learned of the retirement of two men who made the New York Post such a formidable institution over the past several decades.

For years, the most feared scribe in Gotham was Richard Johnson, the longtime editor of Page Six . He possessed a vast Rolodex, an extraordinary gut instinct for news, and a sophisticated understanding of how to exercise his clout. He could make or break a person's career.

David Seifman, The Post’s longtime City Hall Bureau Chief, was a genial personality who rarely raised his voice, avoided the limelight, and was usually the smartest, shrewdest presence in Room 9, with a deep knowledge of how the city operated and a list of exclusives that ran a mile long. A generation of City Hall reporters learned from him.

We wish Messers Johnson and Seifman a happy retirement – they've earned it.
Quotable
“We are curious, if the mayor is banning glass and steel, what the alternative will be?” - Carl Hum, senior vice
president and general counsel for the Real Estate Board of New York.
Have a career announcement for Here and There? A Quotable quote?
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