Saturday, May 7, 2016

Obama: "I Think Everybody Knows What The Math Is." Oh, If Only!

An ABC News story from yesterday:

As Bernie Sanders pledges to take his presidential campaign all the way to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this July, President Obama appeared to imply that Sanders' efforts are all but over – even if he won’t explicitly call on Sanders to drop out.

Asked whether he believes the Vermont senator should end his campaign given the current delegate count, he replied, “I think on the Democratic side, just let the process play itself out. You mentioned the delegate math. I think everybody knows what that math is.”

Wow. Wow. No. No, Mr President: unfortunately, lots and lots of people can't do the math at all. How many? Well, how many people still think Bernie has a chance? At least that many people can't do math worth shit. Bernie Sanders says he's very good at math. Rain Man, who could do the math, said he was an excellent driver. Rigorous and accurate self-criticism is not a universally-shared trait. And competence in math is sure as Hell not universally shared. I've been driving myself crazy trying to get people to grasp math as simple as who was ahead in delegates in the Democratic primaries in May 2008, as simple as reading 2 4-digit numbers and realizing which one goes with which candidate and which one is bigger.

Rachel Maddow appears to be better than average, and better than Bernie, at math. As Jason Easley noted on Tuesday,

"The reality is that Hillary Clinton has moved on to general election mode. Bernie Sanders and his supporters are the only people who are contesting the nomination. It isn’t bias driving this perception. It’s math. Rachel Maddow used reality and math to blow up the Sanders logic for a contested Democratic convention."

But the reality is that you can't make people understand math or face reality.

Yesterday Maddow aired an interview with Sanders. At the end of the interview she gave him several chances to say something conciliatory about Hillary, or something to reign in the more venomous attacks of Hillary by his supporters. Sanders repeated several times that he would do everything he can to make sure Trump isn't elected. Obviously, one big thing he could have done to make sure of that was to say that he supports Hillary. But in order for that to have been obvious to him it would have had to have been obvious to him, as it is to me, Barack, Rachel, Hillary, Bill, Jason, Rain Man and other math geeks, that Hillary is the Democratic nominee. The same way that it's obvious to all of us, and not to Bernie, that Trump is toast in November no matter what Bernie does, but that the size of Hillary's win is still very important, and that Bernie can do a lot about that, and that the sooner he starts to try to convince the Hillary-haters among his fans that they shouldn't hate her, the bigger his effect will be. The same way that it's obvious to us that the only thing that Hillary taking $800,000 from Lehman Bros meant was that Lehman Bros had $800,000 less and the Democratic Party had $800,000 more, and that the size of a bank is not the only measure of its behavior. And that Bernie actually belongs to the elite which he seems to loathe so much. And that his confidence about winning the California primary is downright strange for someone who is so far behind Hillary in the California polls...

Ahhh, what else can I say? Go math!

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