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December 22, 2012

Morning Read: Sanders, Shumlin Make The Nation's "Most Valuable Progressive" List

MorningreadIt's not quite Time Magazine's person-of-the-year, but two Vermont pols made the cut this week in The Nation's "Most Valuable Progressive Honor Roll."

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a longtime darling of the lefty political rag, won the magazine's top honor, "Most Valuable Progressive." Citing Ol' Bernardo's fights against cutting entitlement programs and the Postal Service, Washington correspondent John Nichols writes:

"Sanders has broken the boundaries of conventional politics. By refusing to bend to the compromises and spin of Washington, he has made himself the conscience of the fiscal cliff fight."

Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin, meanwhile, took home the mag's "Most Valuable Governor" award.

Nichols lauds the Green Mountain gov for going toe-to-toe with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in April 2011:

Not many governors talk like that — or mean it. Even fewer take on the challenges of state budgeting in realistic ways. Shumlin has, including as a champion of single-payer healthcare reform. Senator Sanders hails the state’s Medicare for All push as a national model.

You can read The Nation's full honor roll here.

And if that isn't enough Sanders hagiography for you, I encourage you to read Nichols' take on Ol' Bernardo's 2012 reelection campaign, which, we're told, "broke all the rules." In Nichols' telling, Sanders heroically defies the dictates of D.C. consultants, eschewing negative television ads in favor of speaking in full, brave sentences to the masses:

Polls had Sanders leading by wide margins even in areas where Democrats run poorly. Why? Because the senator does not waste money on TV commercials designed to scare or fool voters into backing him. Rather, he goes where voters live.

Actually, it's because the guy running against Vermont's junior senator, John MacGovern, was a total joke. But Nichols doesn't let that get in the way of his narrative. Perhaps he's not even aware. After all, his only two sources for a story about a Vermont political campaign appear to be Sanders himself and Nichols' former Nation colleague, Micah Sifry.

He could've at least picked up the phone and dialed Eric Davis!

That brings us to perhaps the most deliciously ironic line of Nichols' piece:

Sanders bristles when pundits who don’t know Vermont dismiss his approach to campaigning as a regional deviation that might work in what is often portrayed as a quirky liberal state that couldn’t possibly have relevance for the rest of the country.

Really, John? Next time you're planning to write 1000 words on a state political campaign, you should consider visiting the place — or at least finding a single source who lives there and is not Bernie Sanders.

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