Bernie Helps the Donald

Such is the Political Doctrine of Unintended Consequences

"I don't take money from big banks," Bernie Sanders said in Sunday night's debate. I don't get big speaking fees from Goldman Sachs."

You could see by Hillary's reaction that Bernie scored. Hillary always has had problems -while she is being attacked in a debate - with how she looks in reaction, on camera. At least this time she did not commence that never-ending laugh (when she is nervous or lying) that reminds us of yesteryear's Boris Karloff. She did manage the look of that proverbial deer caught in the headlights. And then, before an audience overwhelmingly African-American, Hillary was reduced to this defense - that President Obama (and it is, after all, heresy before this audience to criticize Obama in any way) -- has accepted contributions from Wall Street.

Even the nerdy Martin O'Malley joined in the attack. O'Malley is known, of course, for his reliance on jargon. He sounds like he is speaking before Silicon Valley on the politics of megabytes. He surely is admired for his trenchant observations, as in this debate when in a burst of wisdom he exclaimed, "Wages should go up rather than down." And so he attacked Hillary by noting, actually correctly, that she has defended her "cozy relationship with Wall Street" by bringing up 9/11. Soon he was talking about Hillary and Bernie both taking cops off the beat on Wall Street, by which he meant regulators who oversee the banks and brokerages.

All this back-and-forth in plain English took its toll on Hillary, who responded with this esoteric Inside-the-Beltway observation that O'Malley, when he chaired the Democratic Governors Association, took money from Wall Street. Perhaps a debate coach somewhere thought Hillary landed a punch, but she was caught in the cross-hairs - both her opponents had agreed that she was bought and paid for by Wall Street.

Bernie hit a home run when he reminded audiences that Goldman Sachs provided President Bill Clinton with, yes the Goldman Sachs guy as Secretary of the Treasury; and the same Goldman Sachs firm, Bernie noted with emphasis, paid Hillary $600,000 in speaking fees in just one year.

Bernie now is competitive, so he will run the Wall Street attack into the ground, in his stump appearances and in the final two debates. Meanwhile, Hillary under siege will take even more money from Wall Street, as will her SuperPacs.

In Iowa itself, Karl Rove's Crossroads SuperPAC now is running effective ads on Hillary's links to Wall Street. These ads will help Bernie win Iowa as they further damage Hillary's credibility. In the debate Hillary volunteered a condemnation of the ads (Karl: "Hillary took the bait"): she erred in giving the ads greater attention. She claims "the Republicans are afraid of me"; but Sanders (for now) polls well in general election matchups.

All this helps a different kind of populist -- Donald Trump. That's because Trump's pitch is that the other candidates do the bidding of Special Interests, notably Wall Street. And only he, once the epitome of Special Interest, is independent. Thus The Donald surely benefits from his born-again virginity. The last person Bernie Sanders or Karl Rove wants to help is Donald Trump, but such is the Political Doctrine of Unintended Consequences.