Bernie Sanders' best weapon may be Larry David

Larry David's spot-on Bernie Sanders impression
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Larry David's spot-on Bernie Sanders impression 01:55

Story highlights

  • Larry David's impression of Bernie Sanders on "Saturday Night Live" went viral
  • Dean Obeidallah: It could help spread enthusiasm for Sanders' policies and candidacy

Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM's weekly program "The Dean Obeidallah Show," a columnist for The Daily Beast and editor of the politics blog The Dean's Report. Follow him on Twitter: @TheDeansreport. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.

(CNN)Larry David's impersonation of Bernie Sanders on "Saturday Night Live" this weekend may be the best thing that has happened to Sanders' run for president.

In fact, David was so amazing, I may vote for Sanders in the hopes it means the comedian will return in the future to play President Sanders.
The sketch, which has gone viral, was about last week's Democratic presidential debate. As someone who worked on the production staff at "SNL" from 1999 through the mid-2000s, I can say that it was one of the best political sketches in recent years and David as Sanders was comedy gold.
    The senator from Vermont not only loved David's impression, he quipped to ABC News, "I think we'll use Larry at our next rally. He does better than I do."
    Sanders knows something others might not get. This "SNL" sketch helps Sanders and even some of his policy positions become better known. And it's likely reaching many people who don't follow politics and know little about Sanders. The senator had a strong debate, with many saying he was the winner and with the latest CNN poll showing that he gained support.
    It's unlikely the other candidates depicted in the sketch were as happy with it. For example, Alec Baldwin made a guest appearance on the show playing former Sen. Jim Webb. The sketch effectively used comedy to define Webb accurately as a person who felt terribly slighted by not being able to speak longer at the debate and whose positions are too conservative for today's Democratic Party.
    Hillary Clinton, played hilariously by Kate McKinnon, focused on the perception that she will shape shift into whatever form it takes to win the White House. Her opening line in the sketch summed that up: "I think you are really going to like the Hillary Clinton that my team and I have created for this debate."
    But the star, by far, of the sketch was David as Sanders. It certainly helped that David looks amazingly like Sanders. In fact, some on Twitter fostered a conspiracy theory that it was really Sanders playing himself.
    David, however, gave us more than just a straightforward Sanders impression. Rather it was imbued with a touch of Regis Philbin together with David's longtime friend Jerry Seinfeld. And the best lines were ones that not only made you laugh but actually informed viewers about Sanders' political positions as well as his persona.
    For example, in response to a question about large banks, Sanders stated, "I'm not a fan of the banks." After a Seinfeldesque joke about "why do banks chain up their pens?" he went into a Philbin-type passionate diatribe: "We got to break up the banks into little pieces and then flush the pieces down the toilet so you can never put the banks back together!"
    Funny but also consistent with Sanders' policy position of backing a bill to break up the big banks.
    Sure, there were also silly jokes not grounded in policy, but they still were in keeping with Sanders' personality, such as his well-known frugality. He declared that as opposed to billionaires who own "three or four pairs" of underwear, "I own one pair of underwear, that's it." Adding, "I don't have a dryer, I have to put my clothes on the radiator." He brought it all home with the line: "So who do you want as president: one of these Washington insiders or a guy who has one pair of clean underwear that he dries on a radiator?"
    Now some may dismiss "SNL" and shows like it as just being entertainment. They are missing what Sanders understands. If you doubt me, let me ask you a question: Do you think Sarah Palin said the line, "I can see Russia from my house"? Time's up. The correct answer is no. Tina Fey said it as Sarah Palin on "SNL," but that line soon took on a life of its own and contributed to the sense that Palin was a foreign policy lightweight.
    Look, no one knows if Sanders will win the Democratic nomination, but David has certainly won the prize for best political impression of this campaign season. And my hope, and I bet it's Sanders' as well, is that we see a lot more of David's Bernie Sanders impression.