BERN-ING LOVE

1. It’s Tuesday, July 12, 2016.

2. So I was going to like Bernie Sanders’ endorsement speech for Hillary Clinton anyway. But here’s why I was really psyched afterward, and then one less serious observation.

— FEELING THE BERN: Sanders could have stood there and given a tepid 5-minute endorsement. It would have recognized the reality of the delegate count and said people needed to stand together to make sure Trump doesn’t become President.

He didn’t do that.

Instead, he framed this the way Hillary Clinton must in order to win the mandate she needs.

Sanders said this election is not about him or Trump or Clinton. It’s about how the American people will deal with the problems they face – both now and in the future.

And that’s how it’s got to be. Yes, Trump is a demon from which millions of Americans will want to flee. But the more Hillary Clinton can get people to affirmatively vote for her – as opposed to holding their nose and voting for her – the easier it will be to get the 325-350 electoral vote triumph that will shush the Trumpites once and for all.

— SANDERS TALKED ABOUT ISSUES: His issues. The things about which he brought the passion to the campaign such as college affordability, campaign finance reform and income inequality.

The Clinton-? campaign – no, we still don’t know her running mate – will have enough Trump bashers to remind folks why the next president can’t possibly be him. Elizabeth Warren, whether or not she’s No. 2 on the ticket, will fill that role well. President Obama has a knack.

Sanders can badmouth Trump with the best of them. But his best role in this campaign will be to bring fire to the issues that separate Democrats from Trump and the Republicans.

This is something Democrats don’t do well. Since 1980, when Reagan beat Carter, people have generally opposed a lot of the things that Republicans stand for, particularly on social issues.

Now, people seem to at least want to listen to Sanders. He expresses their rage about many things.

He sees the opportunity. And instead of sulking off, he’s going to take it.

No, he won’t be President. But he can shape the country for the next few years and keep President Clinton’s feet to the fire. It’s a win.

— CAN’T TOUCH THIS: Two weeks from Thursday, in Philadelphia, Bernie Sanders is going to be standing on the podium with Hillary Clinton and other Democratic leaders. Perhaps the only significant party leader missing will be President Obama; he’ll have given his farewell to the Democrats a few nights before and won’t want to overshadow the nominees.

The party is going to display its unity, and it’s going to look and feel real.

What is going to happen a week from Thursday at the Republican convention in Cleveland? Will Trump stand next to Cruz? Rubio? Kasich? We’re pretty sure Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney won’t even show up.

Christie will be there, as VP nominee or otherwise. “Yessir, Mr. Trump.” Carson will be there if he’s still awake at that hour.

The point is the Democrats are going at this at full strength. Sanders made that abundantly clear today. The Republicans, not so much.

—TIP FOR HILLARY: Warning: This is my less serious observation.

But Hillary, please, please, stop nodding your head so much when someone who supports you is speaking.

She did that today with Sanders. She did that with President Obama last week. She’s standing right next to him looking like a bobblehead doll, agreeing with everything the guys are saying.

It wasn’t as bad today – maybe someone warned her about this or read David Axelrod’s tweet pointing this out, and it kicked in later in Sanders’ remarks.

But she’s gotta stop it. It’s just a distraction.

That’s all.

3. Before last night’s All-Star Home Run Derby, I was asked what one player I would take to start a team. I didn’t say Bryce Harper or Mike Trout. I said Giancarlo Stanton.

He’s this big young man with decent speed, an above-average glove and the kind of power they make movies about.

So, even though he plays in the same division and wreaks havoc on my Mets, I’m happy for his Bunyanesque triumph in the contest. Perhaps because he plays in Miami, he’s not often in the conversation for the game’s best player. But last night, millions of people noticed.

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