Bernie Sanders hasn’t been in the news as much as he used to be lately—arguing for progressive policies doesn’t command the same headlines as endorsing whatever the hell Verritt is—but as Seth Meyers noted on Wednesday night, Hillary Clinton is doing what she can to turn the spotlight back on the senator from Vermont. Her forthcoming memoir blames Sanders for attacking Clinton too harshly during the primaries, going so far as to suggest that Trump’s “Crooked Hillary” line was Sanders’ fault. Seth Meyers is not here for it, dedicating a segment called “Hey!” to telling Clinton to knock it off.
Would Donald Trump have been nicer to Clinton if Sanders hadn’t run? By phrasing the question that way, Meyers exposes its essential absurdity. As he puts it, “assholes don’t ask for permission—that’s what makes them assholes.” Trump’s success in the Republican primaries was entirely predicated on his ability to bully milquetoasts like Jeb Bush; he didn’t need Sanders to give him the idea to be a jerk to Hillary Clinton.
Have Clinton and her team forgotten all the other, non-Bernie-related reasons Trump won? The excerpts from her memoir make it seem like an open question, so Meyers runs down a quick list of missteps by way of reminding them. The first two items—“He didn’t tell you not to go to Wisconsin. He didn’t tell you to do paid speeches to Wall Street”—are fair cops, but playing a clip of Clinton’s terrible “Pokémon Go to the polls” joke is such a painful reminder of what it was like to watch her lose an unlosable election that it’s kind of a mood-killer.
One gag doesn’t hit, though: Meyers’ contention that Sanders would never buy a book that cost $17.99, because it’s “four and a half chicken noodle soups.” Even with a line at the end about Sanders preferring public libraries, this is a joke about a Jewish man being stingy, which seems like it ought to be off-limits. Still, Meyers’ broader point—that it’s counterproductive nonsense to pretend Bernie Sanders handed Trump the election—is an important one. Let’s hope the Democratic party figures it out, quits punching left, and tries being a little less craven before the whole planet Pokémon Goes up in flames.