The Times-Argus (Vt.), March 30:

Bernie Sanders’ big wins in caucuses over the weekend have breathed new life into his campaign, keeping alive the hopes of millions of followers.

At this point, they are hoping for a miracle, which would be partly mathematical. Analysts say that after winning the Democratic caucuses in Washington state, Hawaii and Alaska, Sanders still needs to win 57 percent of the remaining delegates. With big, Clinton-friendly states such as California and New York still to vote, it is a daunting task.

Democrats fear an enthusiasm gap if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee. She has not inspired the same sort of devoted following that has rallied to Sanders. Instead, her supporters tend to be dutiful and pragmatic, insisting that she is progressive, like Sanders, but more experienced and knowledgeable.

Clinton labors beneath the widely shared suspicion that she is not honest, which makes a recent article in The Guardian a bracing pick-me-up for Clinton supporters. Jill Abramson, former managing editor of The New York Times, spent many years covering Clinton and the politics and scandals that have surrounded her and her husband. Contrary to the prevailing wisdom, Abramson says in The Guardian: “Hillary Clinton is fundamentally honest and trustworthy.”

Abramson acknowledges the many ways that Clinton makes life difficult for herself. She has a yearning for privacy that is difficult for any politician to maintain, and when her sphere of privacy is violated by nosy journalists, it is her instinct to withhold information. Thus, mini-scandals such as Whitewater or her private emails have a way of mushrooming into major issues. The entire process gives her an extremely jaundiced view of the press. Abramson, who had a hand in the coverage of Whitewater back in the 1990s, admits that she herself is not a favorite in “Hillaryland.”

Abramson has been an investigative reporter looking at the “nexus of money and politics,” and she says she knows of no instance where a donor or benefactor has received anything from Clinton in exchange for money. That goes for the Wall Street banks that gave her generous speaking fees.

As for the truth of her statements, Abramson cites the fact-checking website Politifact, which ranks Clinton as the most truthful of the remaining candidates – more so than Sanders or Republican John Kasich. (It is probably no surprise that Donald Trump is the biggest liar.)

Years ago, Clinton famously blamed the proliferation of lies and scandal that have followed her on a “vast right-wing conspiracy,” and she was derided. Since then, we have learned that there actually was a vast right-wing conspiracy, fueled by the money of billionaires who have systematically spread absurdities about her and her husband (the murder of Vincent Foster) and created scandals out of thin air (Whitewater, Travelgate). Candidates who appear defensive or paranoid or thin-skinned even in the face of lies and character assassination tend to make things worse for themselves.

Clinton has changed her positions over time, but as Abramson notes, there is nothing dishonest about that. Times change. Thanks in part to Sanders, Clinton now has greater latitude for stretching her progressive wings. For someone who began her career working for the Children’s Defense Fund in South Carolina and for the Nixon impeachment committee, her liberal instincts should not be so surprising.

Democrats worry that Sanders supporters will shy away from supporting Clinton if she should emerge as the nominee. She does not inspire the thrill of political revolution, and legions of Sanderistas continue to doubt her authenticity. Abramson is a tough-minded and experienced journalist who has dealt with Clinton at close range and through some of the messy so-called scandals that have followed Clinton like a perennial cloud of dust. That Abramson is vouching for her honesty is worthy of note. If Sanders fails to win that 57 percent that still remains to be won, Democrats may want to give Clinton a break – especially when they have a glance at the opposition.