Friday, April 8, 2016

Bernie's Vatican Misadventure: Can 2016 Get Any Weirder?

What the hell is going on here? You tell me!

Via Politico:
Bernie Sanders announced proudly on Friday that the Vatican had invited him to speak at an upcoming conference in Vatican City, and he seemed to imply that the invitation had been issued by Pope Francis himself. 
The Vermont senator's presidential campaign emailed reporters on Friday morning to announce that he had been invited to the event, a conference on "social, economic and environmental issues." The conference, organized by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, will be held on April 15 — just days before the crucial New York primary, in which Sanders is hoping to upset his rival Hillary Clinton in her home state.
The conference also includes two controversial leftist Latin American presidents, Rafael Correa of Ecuador and Evo Morales of Bolivia, as well as Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs.
Sanders appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” shortly after the announcement, clearly relishing in the reflected glow of one of the most admired men in the world, and someone with whom he shares a good deal of ideological overlap.
Sanders also appeared on The View this morning where this exchange occurred:
Joy Behar: "You're meeting with the Pope?"
Bernie Sanders: "Yep."
Behar: "Pope Francis has invited Bernie to visit him in the Vatican!" (big applause)
Sanders nods in agreement.
Video here:

This exchange alone is a huge embarrassment, as Sanders was either incredibly confused or wasn't telling the truth on a very popular show on national television:
But the invitation was actually made by Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, the chancellor of the pontifical academy, an autonomous institution that receives some funding from the Holy See but is not officially part of it.

In a March 30 letter inviting Sanders to the event, Sánchez Sorondo wrote, "On behalf of the President, Professor Margaret Archer, the Organizers, and as Chancellor, I am very happy to invite you to attend the meeting on 'Centesimus Annus: 25 Years Later.' The meeting, which is humanitarian in its objects, will be held at the Casina Pio IV, the headquarters of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, from 15 to 16 April 2016."

But Archer, an English academic, appears not to have known about the invitation. On Friday, she accused Sanders of “monumental discourtesy” for not contacting her, telling Bloomberg that he was the one who had made the first move regarding the meeting — and “for obvious reasons.”

“I think in a sense he may be going for the Catholic vote, but this is not the Catholic vote and he should remember that and act accordingly — not that he will,” Archer said. Sanders' use of the meeting is "clearly a pretext," she added. "There are just 20 academics and there will be nothing of policy relevance.”
And it sure sounds like this wasn't just an invitation out of the blue:
The Sanders campaign referred POLITICO to Michael Shank, a media consultant who works with Sachs and said he "occasionally" handles press relations for Vatican conferences.
Reports that Sanders had said that Pope Francis himself had invited him were incorrect, Shank said, but he argued that the invitation had effectively come from the Vatican. "The PASS is part of the Vatican. So the senator is right when he says the Vatican invited him," he said. 
Adding to the confusion, Sachs said that he had helped the Vatican arrange the invitation to Sanders.
Sanders also clarified to The New York Times that it hadn't been confirmed whether there would be a one-on-one sit-down meeting with the pontiff himself.
Can you imagine the response if Hillary had goofed up in such an epic fashion? 

So, let's get this straight: Bernie is attending a conference in Vatican City just days before the must-win New York primary. That's odd right there. Also, the conference runs from April 15-16...a day after the next debate with Hillary Clinton. And because the Vatican's time zone is several hours before ours, it seems that Sanders would have to hop on a plane as soon as the debate ends and hope to catch a few ZZZs on the way in order to get there in time. Additionally, there's zero indication that he'll actually meet with Pope Francis...who surely doesn't want to appear to play favorites in American electoral politics. Then he'll have to fly all the way back to the states for some last minute campaigning before the 19th.

It's just so damn weird. Is Bernie really going to do this?


  1. This must be Bernie's "Hail Mary" attempt to win NY by appealing to Catholics. :-)

    1. "Hail Mary"=desperate. And now it's all just so weird and laughable.

  2. But I agree that the timing is odd and the logistics almost impossible.

  3. Hi Scan! This is so great. I'm timed-out on the DK these days because I can't help but mock the Berners. So I wanted to pass along kudos. A tip: Dana Houle has a series of Tweets up that covers this entire fiasco. Well worth adding to your posts here and on the DK. (And in a Berner diary if you want to tickle the dragon's tail!)

    1. I saw those tweets! And this bizarre story is continuing into this week.

  4. The spokesman for the pope said the Pope would not be meeting with Sanders, this is not an endorsement . The pope does not want to get involved in American politics

  5. Why have I not seen a single word on this Vatican mess, on network TV? How can TV not bring this up? It can't be that the networks would favor a Sanders' victory is it?

  6. Does this remind anyone else of when John McCain suddenly stopped his campaign to rush to NYC when the economy was crashing? He was going to go to NY & get to the bottom of the economic crash or some such nonsense, but it ended up being a big nothing and smacked of desperation. That's what this feels like - not to mention, but don't Senators get invites to do conferences and things like this?

    This is not a big deal at all, and Bernie should stop trying to go all Kim Davis on us

    1. Yes, I'm getting a whiff of that McCain meltdown here!

  7. Boy, that would be awful if there was a weather issue or something and Bernie ended up missing the debate. ;)

    1. He'll probably cancel the trip...just needs to come up with a decent excuse!

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  9. Cheap way to try to curry Catholic votes. As a Catholic, I'm not impressed. 54 percent of Catholics are Republican leaning according to Pew Research. Among the remainder who are liberal leaning this will probably not change their votes. Particularly when they see he is pandering to us.