If you’re old enough to remember “The Andy Griffith Show,” you might recall how Sheriff Andy couldn’t trust his trusty sidekick with his sidearm.
When locked and loaded, Deputy Barney Fife had a bad habit of firing his revolver into the floor - and so had to keep his one allotted bullet in his shirt pocket.
I thought of Barney while contemplating Bernie.
Sen. Bernie Sanders is emerging as the favorite in Iowa’s Democratic caucuses. If he wins the Hawkeye State, he automatically becomes the favorite to take the next primary, New Hampshire, which borders Bernie’s home state of Vermont. Recently, Steve Deace of The Blaze network pointed out that all presidential candidates, regardless of party, who won both Iowa and New Hampshire in the primaries went on to become their respective party’s nominee.
Imagine Bernie - the gruff, rumpled, frumpy, ex-hippie, unrepentant Castro lover with Doc Brown’s hair - as the Democratic presidential nominee.
A plus for President Donald Trump, who, provided the Democrats’ impeachment doesn’t succeed, could campaign for reelection simply by playing ads of Bernie’s old comments extolling the virtues breadlines, and his staff’s recently revealed desires to see billionaires breaking rocks in Soviet-style gulags.
Yet, we who love capitalism and freedom would be on Uneasy Street until the last ballot is counted because Bernie, if the nominee, would enter the race with at least 45% of the vote locked up.
If these become our choices, thank Nancy Pelosi.
For a while Pelosi resisted The Resistance, saying impeachment would be too divisive, and that Trump wasn’t “worth” the effort anyway.
Then we learned about Trump’s chattiness with Ukraine’s president and, aided by the whistleblower, Democrats suddenly leapt into witless protection mode.
Before Trump’s conversation with President Z became Washington’s obsession, mainstream Democrats, and even Barack Obama, fretted about the presidential wannabes veering too far to the fringe left - where Bernie camped out like one of Maduro’s starving constituents waiting for la gente rica to empty their basura. Gracias socialism.
Consequently, old marblemouth Joe Biden seemed steady and ready to reap the benefit of the biggest portside tilt since the remake of “The Poseidon Adventure.” He was, after all, the sanest person in the race who had both the name recognition, fundraising firepower and eight years of experience of being just one heartbeat away from America’s top job.
Then, came impeachment.
In late September, Pelosi succumbed to partisanship and whiny radicals who believed quid pro quo was Latin for “beat us at the polls.”
Subsequently, courtesy of congressional Republicans and conservative media, we’ve been treated to a nonstop loop of Biden-heavy shenanigans.
By now we’ve all seen video of Old Joe bragging about getting that Ukraine’s chief prosecutor fired - by doing exactly what Trump was accused of doing: Threatening to withhold American aid until a high-ranking U.S. pol, Biden, got his way. And as we know, what Biden wanted was to be rid of the troublesome prosecutor investigating the potentially corrupt Ukranian energy company that “employed” his son.
Speaking of Hunter Biden, the impeachment process gave Americans a chance to get reacquainted - or perhaps learn for the first time - about him. You know, for instance, how he pocketed tons of cash from foreign interests without knowing anything about the culture of the places where his employers were located, or what exactly they did. How he landed a sweet spot high in corporate hierarchy of MBNA, a Delaware-based high rolling bank that was once Old Joe’s biggest contributor.
We also recalled Hunter’s divorce and subsequent courtship of his late brother’s widow, his dismissal from the Navy over snorting cocaine usage, and last fall, that an Arkansas stripper revealed he was the father of her baby.
More recently, we can thank investigative journalist Peter Schweitzer for revealing how others in the Biden clan have reaped tons of dough because of Old Joe’s proximity to power.
Now, obviously, Hunter Biden is a grown man free to make, or stumble, his way through the world. Should that reflect on Joe? Maybe. Maybe not. But liberals wouldn’t hesitate for a second to ream Trump over his sons’ behavior if they had a similar track record.
Throughout this campaign, Old Joe has found plenty of political cow patties to step in.
But given the Democrats’ argument that Trump supposedly turned to Ukraine specifically to undermine Old Joe, impeachment has cast a glaring light on his shortcomings.
Thus, if Biden collapses, and Bernie surges to the Democratic nomination, we get four more years of Trump because America decides it’s not ready to wrap itself in the dried-out husk of the Soviet Union that Bernie has waiting for us.
Like Barney Fife, Pelosi should have kept her commemorative impeachment pen in her pocket.
Bill Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the editorial page editor of The Ledger in Lakeland, Florida.