THE BLOG
06/17/2016 11:58 am ET Updated Jun 18, 2017

Bye Bye Bernie

In the early 1960s I was a big Ann-Margret fan, first associating her with the film version of the musical Bye Bye Birdie. Before that I was a Brenda Lee fan, who came to town to star in a road show production of Bye Bye Birdie at Kansas City's Starlight Theater.

I knew, slightly, a local dancer who helped fill out the chorus line and she was invited to a party at Brenda's hotel room after a performance and I tagged along, hoping to get to meet Ms. Lee. We went up in the hotel's elevator with what looked like two body guards and my friend was admitted to the party, but not I.

I didn't yell that the system was rigged, nor rail against the body guards (superdelegates!), I just went off quietly into the night. It's doesn't yet seem Bernie Sanders is going off quietly into the night, but he did, it was reported, spend nearly ninety minutes in a hotel room with the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, who is, I think, taller than Brenda Lee.

I don't know if it was a "One Last Kiss" moment, or A First Kiss moment, but Bernie qualifies as just a "Normal American Boy," a tune whose chorus went something like this:

We love you Bernie
Oh yes we do
We love you Bernie
And will be true!
When you're not near us
We're blue!
Oh, Bernie, we love you...

Young women sang a variation of this in Bye Bye Birdie, not a bunch of tone-deaf Bernie Bros, but you get the point. The musical, as a teenager, seemed political to me, based, as it was, on Elvis Presley being drafted. The Vietnam War had not yet captured the country's attention, and Elvis, I believe, went off peacefully to Germany.

Where will Bernie go? Not back permanently to sleepy Vermont, but to Philadelphia, city of brotherly love, where he intends, so he says, to get rid of, as Donald Trump calls her, Deborah Wasserman Schultz, ram through the most progressive platform ever passed (ha!), achieve real electoral reform in the Democratic party, and get rid of those glowering superdelegates, blocking the party door of the promised land.

Meanwhile, The Donald, who appears not to want the job (the presidency), continues trying to lose, but, however he attempts to self destruct, his people stand by him. But, nonetheless, Bernie now wants "open primaries," because, evidently, they stood in the way - their absence that is - to his winning the nomination. All those New York independents deprived of voting in the Democratic primary! Bernie feels the bern - it burns him up.

As large as my disappointment was in not meeting Brenda Lee, I'm sure Bernie's disappointment is even greater. Far greater. I was just a green kid, star-struck, while Bernie finally turned himself into a star, even to the picky Green crowd. No longer a callow youth, Bernie's hair, toward the end of the primaries, began to be styled Julius Caesar-like, at least the usual Hollywood version. Caesar was a great orator, but a lousy dictator. Et tu, Wasserman Schultz?

I have always thought Bernie Sanders was likable enough, though he didn't turn out to be quite the over-achiever that Donald Trump has come to be. Close, but no cigar. Though I do expect to hear, especially from Sanders' #NeverHillary supporters, this wan, persistent chorus being sung all the way to November:

We love you Bernie
Oh yes we do
We love you Bernie
And will be true!