BERNIE FACES THE MUSIC WITHOUT CONCEDING DEFEAT

Rejecting the latest offer to debate before California’s June 7 primary, 74-year-old Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has begun to face the music that his upstart presidential is about to end. Only 90 delegates shy, with pledged and super-delegates, Democratic front-runner former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stands poised to make history: The first woman to win the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Hoping to debate one more time, Hillary politely passed on Bernie’s offer, knowing that she’ll win her Party’s nomination June 7 when California and four other state vote. Way down in the polls, Bernie has a snowball’s chance in Death Valley to pull off the upset. California’s Democratic voters look ready to hand Hillary her historic victory, facing GOP front-runner real estate tycoon Donald Trump in Fall election. With President Barack Obama’s approval ratings hitting 52% in new Reuters/ORB poll, Hillary’s the odds-on favorites to win the White House.

Recent interviews with Bernie’s most ardent supporters indicate that they now view the election as the “lesser of two evils,” the greater evil being Trump. Trump’s got a lot of selling to do between now and the Nov. 8 general election. After a bitter primary battle, Trump’s biggest detractors, like former GOP candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), look poised to end opposition. Whether you like Hillary or not, she’s a far more known than Trump, whose campaign rhetoric has offended Republicans and Democrats. Cutting into Hillary’s credibility, Trump will have to hit harder than Bernie, who always pulled his punches on Hillary’s most vulnerable points. Trump’s got plenty of time but his opposition research must focus on more than Hillary’s email controversy or GOP House Select Committee investigations on Beghazi. Only by exposing Hillary’s close ties to the Saudis and backing the Saudi proxy war in Syria will make a difference.

Bernie talked about Hillary’s backing of former President George W. Bush’s Iraq War Authorization but stayed clear of the Clinton Foundation’s close ties with Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf States. Bernie’s focus on Hillary’s close ties to Wall Street never really gained traction, especially her Wall Street super-PAC that raised over $15 million for her campaign. Bernie’s over-emphasis on Wall Street and campaign finance reform wasn’t enough to dent Hillary’s credibility. Spending so much time on Wall Street painted Bernie as a one-trick-pony when it came to domestic policy, leaving Hillary looking superior on foreign policy. Without any foreign policy background, Trump’s likely to fall into the same trap, unless he can expose Hillary’s Saudi ties and her backing of the Saudi-Turkey-U.S. proxy war that has left U.S.-Russian relations at the lowest point since the Cold War. Hillary’s biggest weakness is her foreign policy decisions.

Most conventional financial metrics show the economy doing better than when Obama took office Jan. 20, 2009. With Wall Street still going up, unemployment at five percent, federal budget deficits down, jobs more plentiful, it’s hard to argue that the economy is worse off than it was in 2009. Real estate and auto markets have made a solid recovery, with General Motors and Ford posting some of the biggest gains in the industry’s history. Yet U.S. Gross Domestic Product remains sluggish, with underemployment, or part-time jobs, not generating enough income to stimulate the consumer economy. Trump’s emphasis on the $19 trillion national debt doesn’t translate into an economic crisis for voters not seeing things as worse than they were four years ago. Hillary’s suggestion that her husband play a role “rebuilding” the U.S. economy gives Trump an opening. If Hillary’s running on Obama’s economic record, why does she think the economy needs “rebuilding?”

Forecasting that the Democratic National Convention could be a “mess,” Bernie exaggerates the role he’ll play in Philadelphia. By the time the convention rolls around, Bernie will be a passing curiosity on Hillary’s historic rise to the top of her Party. When convention goers get into the “first woman” Democratic nominee mood, Bernie’s pet peeves won’t matter much to convention goers. By the time Philadelphia gets started, much talk will focus on her unprecedented accomplishment and running mate, not likely at this point to be Bernie. Hillary’s chief campaign strategist Sidney Blumenthal will pivot Hillary to the center, not the direction Bernie would like. Conventional wisdom has Hillary picking a moderate white running mate, since she’s already got the minority vote locked up. Trump’s got a big mountain to climb convincing minority voters that the GOP represents their interests, putting Hillary at a big advantage.

When Bernie enters the DNC convention in Philadelphia, he’ll be a passing footnote in Democratic campaign history. His rival, Hillary, will stand triumphant as the first woman to win a major party’s nomination. Whatever Bernie’s socialist agenda, Hillary will begin her pivot to the center to accomplish the big prize of winning the White House. Faced with the ever-unpredictable Trump, she’ll have a moving target, trying to paint the real estate billionaire as a xenophobic racist. Trump’s biggest challenge will be staying laser-focused on Hillay’s foreign policy and economic track record. On both counts she’s vulnerable, especially her votes on authorizing the Iraq War, deciding to topple Libya strongman Col Muammar Gaddafi and ongoing backing the Saudi proxy wart o topple Syria President Bashar al-Assad. When it comes to the economy, Hillary can’t have it both ways: Running on Obama’s economic record and appointing her husband to “rebuild” the economy.