You wait decades for a Jewish candidate for the White House, and then two come along at once — like buses, except these two are running in different directions. With Biden having no idea where he’s heading, and Warren and Buttigieg going nowhere with swathes of the primary voters, the nomination race may, like a round of golf in Boca Raton, turn into a struggle to the death between two elderly Jewish men from the Northeast. It’ll also be a public airing of the American Jewish split over Israel. What happens in Vegas on Wednesday night won’t stay there.
Sanders and Bloomberg have nothing in common ideologically. Both of them, however, have had as little to do with the Democratic party as possible. Each of them has rammed his respective golf cart into the race despite the opposition of party managers and his unpopularity among key sectors of primary voters.
Two tetchy septuagenarians, one who can’t help getting angry even though he’s got a heart condition, the other not too good with black people, and both perpetually irritated by dumb questions, dyspepsia, the world in general and, because fate has thrown them together, each other. Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg are Grumpy Old Men.
Lovers of the silver screen will recall that Walther Matthau and Jack Lemmon vehicle from 1993, in which the lifelong rivalry between two tetchy geezers is galvanized by their competition for the ultimate prize — ultimate, that is, in the sense of their last chance — the affections of the attractive retiree (Ann-Margret). Helpless addicts of the silver screen will recall the follow-up from 1995, Grumpy Old Men 2 which, like Bernie Sanders’s current attempt to rerun the 2016 campaign, repeated the same jokes, only at higher volume.
True lovers of the silver screen, and masochistic devotees of mass democracy, will now see Grumpy Old Men 3. This time our pair of petty pensioners will be cursing and kvetching in Las Vegas as they compete for the affections of a beauty long past its prime: the Democratic party. Will Mike confirm the rumors that he’s even nastier than Bernie is rumored to be? Will Bernie’s heart and bladder go the distance? Will Mike run down their neighbor Joe, who’s taken up residence in the middle of the street?
The real drama in the Mike and Bernie show is that the communal feuding of American Jews is going public. You could call this a nightmare scenario, were it not already the reality of the politics of the American Jewish institutions among which both Bernie and Mike should be numbered. American Jews are almost unanimously pro-Israel, but their would-be leaders are, like most politicians, far more polarized, in this case over Israel.
The closest Bernie has ever come to manual labor was a short stint on a kibbutz in the Sixties. But Bernie is a man of principle. The shifting and stringent demands of international leftism now oblige him to call the Netanyahu government ‘racist’ and to falsely accuse the Israeli military of killing ‘over 10,000 innocent’ Palestinian civilians in the Gaza war of 2014. Even Hamas, which has yet to declare on endorsing Bernie’s candidacy, only claimed 1,462 civilians had been killed out of a total of 2,251.
Fortunately Bernie is Jewish, so he can get away with what would otherwise be called a blood libel, or evidence of incipient senility. ‘I don’t remember the figures,’ he said at the time. I hope he carries one of those alarms on his wrist in case he takes a tumble in the bathroom.
Mike, meanwhile, warns that Bernie wants to turn the United States into a kibbutz, with universal healthcare and other communist amenities. Michael Oren, previously Israel’s ambassador to the court of Barack Obama, says that Mike has a ‘visceral’ connection to Israel, though it could of course be indigestion. Bernie, meanwhile, has a visceral connection to the Soviet Union: when he took his lucky wife there on a honeymoon, it wasn’t for the beaches and nightlife.
Expect Mike to catch Bernie on the numbers during tomorrow night’s debate, and Bernie to levitate a little as small jets of steam emit from his ears and he mumbles furiously to himself. Also expect that the next president will, like the current one, be the guy with the Jewish grandchildren.
Dominic Green is Life & Arts editor of Spectator USA.
See the full story of Sanders and Bloomberg take the American Jewish feud public on Spectator USA.