Sunday, October 18, 2015

Bernie Sanders’s honeymoon

Anderson Cooper’s debate-night accusation that Bernie Sanders honeymooned in the Soviet Union went by so quickly that I did little more than make a puzzled face: what an odd canard . Daughter Number Three looked into it.

Here is the best-documented account of Sanders’s Soviet getaway I can find. Long story short: in 1988, Sanders, mayor of Burlington, Vermont, visited the Russian city of Yaroslavl with his wife Jane and ten other people. They were members of an official delegation: Burlington and Yaroslavl were sister cities, and “honeymoon” was the Sanderses’ joking description of the trip. The two had been married the day before. Sister Cities International is a program that began with Dwight Eisenhower in 1956. Anderson Cooper, you took a cheap shot.

There are many more reasons to be dissatisfied with CNN’s management of Tuesday night’s debate (and the aftermath). As I mentioned to DN3, I haven’t watched a minute of CNN since Tuesday, and I have no plans to pick up again.

An aside: I see something of Senator Sanders in me. In public settings, I too have often refrained from arguing back, even when it would have been to my advantage to do so. Here, Sanders should have set things straight. And while I think of it:

It doesn’t matter how many Victorian husbands addressed their wives as “My child” in letters: Charles Dickens’s Bleak House does not present the possibility of a sexless marriage between Esther Summerson and the much older John Jarndyce as inviting the reader’s approval. Such a union could result only from Esther’s self-abnegation, her sense of herself as damaged, inferior, unworthy of sexual love. In the economy of the novel, the Esther–Allan Woodcourt marriage stands as the happy middle way, between Ada Clare and Richard Carstone’s unrestrained desire and an Esther–Jarndyce union. There, I said it.

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