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Feel the Bern?

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 15/10/2015 Joel Epstein
HILLARY CLINTON © Shutterstock HILLARY CLINTON

Feel the Bern? I'm not sure. Here's my Bernie Sanders story.
In a former life I was political director for one of those Los Angeles billionaires Bernie Sanders is so fond of slamming from the podium.
As part of my job I would meet with and vet candidates for federal, state and local office and make a recommendation to my boss on whether they should support the candidate or not and if so at what level.
With Bernie surging, I have to stifle a laugh every time I hear the line about the billionaires.
Bernie the candidate never did take money from "my" billionaire.
The way it worked is we'd sit in my office and I'd start by giving the candidate, and sometimes their fundraiser, a very brief spiel about the donors and their interests. My comments never exceeded a few minutes and most candidates and officeholders held their nose and listened to me blather on before making their ask. I loved meeting with candidates and I was good at it. This being the Westside of Los Angeles, everyone came with hat in hand and I met some fascinating people, many of whom I have tremendous respect for in spite of their chosen profession. And this sort of thing is totally legal in pay-to-play American politics/business. After all, they are really the same, aren't they?
While as I said, most of the candidates could hold their nose while I spoke, not Bernie. Perhaps to his credit, he sat there for maybe 60 seconds before announcing to me and his wife, his principal advisor, "I'm outta here." With that he got up and left the office and headed for the elevator. His wife apologized profusely but the damage was done. She couldn't coax him back to my office and even if she could have, I couldn't in good conscience recommend that my boss contribute to Bernie's campaign.
I like Bernie, in spite of himself. His presence in the presidential campaign is helping keep before the voters critical economic, foreign policy and social issues that might otherwise get lost in the white noise of Fox News, CNN and MSNBC. His mighty BS detector is an admirable asset with so much of our headspace filled by the meaningless drivel that passes for news these days. And it was refreshing to hear his rant the other night about how tired we should all be of hearing about Hillary's emails.
Still, Bernie's impatience with me that morning several years ago gives me hesitation over how he would be as president. I don't feel the Bern.
The fact is, part of the job of president is working and playing well with others be they conservative Democrats, country club Republicans, Tea Party wingnuts, Progressives or global leaders like Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. Sometimes in life and politics, you just have to hold your nose and wait for the other guy to shut up.
Aside from the fact that it's past time this country had a woman president in the White House, Hillary's experience, intelligence, leadership, poise and patience with the process appear to make her the best choice for the job and the country. As for any of the other candidates, "I'm outta here."
Yours in transit,
Joel

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