Weve entered the killing time until the curtain call part of the Democratic race.
We've entered the "killing time until the curtain call" part of the Democratic race. a katz / Shutterstock.com

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Okay, can we finally be real and say that Hillary's getting the nomination? Nobody's still expecting it to swing over the Bernie at this point, right? His insurgency was exciting, the optimism felt really good (especially in this state), and Bernie can still have a strong progressive influence on the party.

But at this point, we're all in agreement that he's running for "influencer" rather than "president," right?

That said: He's still in the race. So now Hillary Clinton's going to have to find some way to deal with him as though he's still a candidate, a sort of Democracy-Theater where they pretend they're counting votes but really they're killing time until the curtain call. It going to be a fascinating little improv exercise between now and the convention, and I suspect that Hillary is delighted that she no longer has to take notes from her co-star.

On MSNBC this week, Hillary essentially told Bernie to STFU and go along with her agenda, pointing out that that's how she handled Obama's ascent. "We got to the end in June and I did not put down conditions. I didn’t say, ‘You know what, if Sen. Obama does W, Y, and Z maybe I’ll support him,” Clinton said. “I said 'I am supporting Sen. Obama.'”

(Of course, Clinton needed Obama's help to pay down her $22 million campaign debt; according to Open Secrets, Bernie doesn't have any debts.)

For his part, Bernie says he's still gunning for the nomination. At least, that's what he says with his mouth, but not so much with eyes. And also, not so much with his other words.

"We are in this campaign to win, and become the Democratic nominee," he said, adding, "Our goal, whether we win or we do not win, is to transform the Democratic Party, to open the doors to working people, to senior citizens, to young people, in a way that does not exist today.”

His campaign's shrinking (a nice way to say cutting jobs) and for now it looks like he's just focusing his attention on California, where he could potentially gobble up a lot of delegates in the lefty islands.

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Yeah okay. "Whether we win or not." Let's go ahead and assume "not" is how it's going to go, but transforming the Democratic party and opening doors would be good. And it's already kind of happened: Clinton's moved to the left on trade and on Social Security. On health care, minimum wage, and big banks ... ehhhh, not so much. So it's good that we still have Bernie applying what pressure he can.

Clinton's going to need to do at least a little pandering to Bernie supporters, because if she doesn't, Trump will.

"Bernie Sanders has a message that's interesting," Trump said this week. "I'm going to be taking a lot of the things Bernie said and using them." Hahaha, sure, "using them." Okay, so essentially dangling Bernie soundbites on the end of a fish hook like a little worm before impaling voters through the neck, providing a slow and agonizing death? Cool.

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