Hooray for party unity…?
Can a subtweet be an endorsement? Can an endorsement be a subtweet? Can a live speech when you’re standing right next to the person you’re theoretically “endorsing” function as a subtweet?
Bernie Sanders tested the limits of each of these questions Tuesday when he kinda, sorta, for the most part, in his own way, painstakingly, humblebrag endorsed Hillary Clinton for the office of President of the United States. The two Democrats took the stage together in Portsmouth, New Hampshire—where, Bernie reminded us, his campaign got its first big primary win—so that the Senator from Vermont could, at long last, give a concession speech and officially put whatever momentum he’s got behind the soon-to-be nominee for his party, Secretary Clinton.
But first, Bernie had to stand in the sunlight one last time, and it got kind of super awkward because that ray of warmth is technically shining down on Clinton and Bernie was holding up a stiff arm for as long as he could to keep her at bay. Sanders did eventually say, “I have come here to make it as clear as possible as to why I am endorsing Hillary Clinton and why she must become our next president,” but for about three minutes leading up to that declaration he managed to take jabs at the super delegate system, emphasize the fact that his campaign succeeded because of small donations unlike someone else we know, and grimace so hard throughout the entire introduction it looked like his face might get stuck in a pout of mourning for the rest of his life. All, of course, with Hillary Clinton standing right next to him.
Here are the essential still frames from Sanders’ opening, paired with the remarks themselves. Let’s go on a journey into the theater of the mind.
First, Sanders walks out like he’s about to deliver a eulogy. And in a metaphor kind of way, he sort of is, since his campaign is now officially dead. When Clinton briefly turns away to address someone off stage, you can almost feel him stealing the moment to be more outwardly wistful.
Then the remarks begin.
Let me begin by thanking the 13 million Americans who voted for me during the Democratic primaries.
This expression of gratitude almost puts Bernie in full-on cry mode, and with Clinton’s hand posture—slighty held out toward her vanquished opponent—it’s easy to imagine her mocking his pain.
It actually feels a lot like this excessively cold moment from the Scripps National Spelling Bee earlier this year.
And then Bernie goes on:
Let me also thank the people here in New Hampshire who gave us our first big win and a special thanks to the people of Vermont whose support for so many years has sustained me.
Let me also thank the hundreds of thousands of volunteers in every state in our country who worked so hard on our campaign and the millions of our contributors who showed the world that we could run a successful national campaign based on small individual contributions—2 1/2 million of them.
With Clinton standing at his flank, possibly ready to put a blade in him, it was a bold move for the Sanders to show up his big-money counterpart in the middle of her own endorsement by continuing to assert his status as Man of the People. And Clinton’s quizzical expression shows us the moment isn’t lost on her either. “But whatever,” she’s thinking. “I still won and my war chest will carry me to the general election.”
Then Bernie continues:
Together, we have begun a political revolution to transform America and that revolution continues. Together, we continue the fight to create a government which represents all of us, and not just the one percent—a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice.
I am proud of the campaign we ran here in New Hampshire and across the country. Our campaign won the primaries and caucuses in 22 states, and when the roll call at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia is announced it will show that we won almost 1,900 delegates.
This might be the most awkward moment in the whole speech! Sanders saying “1,900 delegates” is so clearly a dig at what he perceives as earned votes versus gifted ones, aka the super delegates (more on that soon), and Hillary Clinton, who has stayed composed the entire time, let’s her lips part for just a passing second.
Look at the image and just imagine it leaping forward to its logical conclusion when Clinton lunges forward and grabs the mic to shout, “And YET, here we are!” as Bernie’s cry face sets in once again. Bernie looks like he’s telling the kids that mom got custody, but it’s going to be okay even though I know you don’t like her as much as you like me, but we have to comply with the court because she’s wealthy and well-positioned and can give you a better life, but you’ll always have more fun with me on the weekends so we can make this work and I love you more than she does so never forget that and be good for your mother.
But mom knows, in the eyes of the law, she won. And there’s nothing dad can do about it.
And he continues:
That is a lot of delegates, far more than almost anyone thought we could win. But it is not enough to win the nomination. Secretary Clinton goes into the convention with 389 more pledged delegates than we have and a lot more super delegates.
And now Clinton is all, “Really, Bernie? The super delegates again?”
Remember, Sanders has still not endorsed Clinton at this point, and the lead up is getting even more convuluted. But the next line also gives us Clinton’s best moment.
Secretary Clinton has won the Democratic nominating process, and I congratulate her for that.
Just look at her:
No, really look at her:
Stone. Cold. Killer.
And then Bernie, a victim of vicious mathematics, finally has to admit:
She will be the Democratic nominee for president and I intend to do everything I can to make certain she will be the next president of the United States.
Then Clinton thought, “You’re damn right I will be.”
Shortly after that, Sanders finally used a version of the word “endorse” and told the crowd, “I have come here today not to talk about the past but to focus on the future,” even though he just spent a few minutes very much talking about the past. But the bottom line is, Sanders has finally thrown his support behind Clinton—after managing to secure a lot of very big concessions from the Democratic party on how their official platform will look going forward—and even if the whole process felt a lot like that time Jess couldn’t say “penis” on New Girl because it made her too uncomfortable, it still happened, and the party is now unified.
And never forget what history gave us today:
God bless bitchy America.