More agitated than usual, Bernie once again went after Hillary Clinton’s integrity during last night’s spirited debate in Flint, Michigan. Discussing the salvation of the auto industry in Michigan and elsewhere, including here in Missouri, Hillary said:
I think it was the right decision to heed what President-elect Obama asked us to do.
He sent a letter, an authorized letter, asking us to support that to save the auto industry. Yes, were there things in it that you and I would not have necessarily wanted? That’s true. But when it came down to it, you were either for saving the auto industry or you were against it. I voted to save the auto industry. And I am very glad that I did.
Now, Bernie had previously tried to explain why he voted the way he did on the infamous Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) legislation—which contained money President Obama eventually used to save General Motors and Chrysler—saying last night, among other things, “I will be damned if it was the working people of this country who had to bail out the crooks on Wall Street.”
Fine. That was his right to use his very proper and popular disdain for Wall Street banksters as an excuse to ignore not only Mr. Obama’s recommendation, but ignore the pleas from Michigan’s two Democratic senators, who were trying to save the auto industry in their state. It was Bernie’s vote to cast and he cast it. He made a choice. But that choice, if he had prevailed, would have left the auto industry in the region for dead. Millions of jobs were at stake. And Mrs. Clinton has every right to point out that fact to Democratic voters in not only Michigan, but in “Ohio and Indiana and Illinois and Wisconsin and Missouri and other places in the Midwest.”
So, after Hillary said she was “very glad” she voted to “save the auto industry,” Bernie-one-note came back with this:
Let me just say this, while we are on Wall Street, one of us has a super PAC. One of us has raised $15 million from Wall Street for that super PAC. One of us has given speeches on Wall Street for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Now, I kind of think if you get paid a couple hundred thousand dollars for a speech, it must be a great speech. I think we should release it and let the American people see what that transcript was.
That glaring non sequitur is revealing to me. Bernie’s response had nothing to do with Bernie’s vote against TARP and the associated auto bailout. It had nothing to do with President Obama’s controversial and bold move to use around $82 billion of TARP money to save millions of jobs, which would not have been possible if Bernie’s right and righteous anger at Wall Street had won the day. So, why does Bernie continue to go back, time and again, to the Hillary-took-money-from-Wall Street-therefore-she-must-be-corrupt strategy? I wish I could answer that, but his continuing to piggyback on the decades-old Republican slander machine is getting annoying.
Just listen to what Tad Devine, a top Sanders adviser, said during an interview this morning with CNN’s Chris Cuomo about last night’s tangle:
CUOMO: The question about the auto bailout seemed to give Bernie Sanders some pause. Do you think that that was a vulnerability for him last night with that audience?
TAD DEVINE: No, I don’t. I think it was a vulnerability for Hillary Clinton because what she did was so utterly disingenuous, so false. She said Bernie Sanders opposed the auto bailout. On December 11, 2008, he voted on the floor of the United States Senate to bail out the auto industry. She knew that. But nevertheless she wants to mislead people here in Michigan and elsewhere on the eve of an election. I mean Bernie supported the auto bailout; he voted for it in the Senate…
Cuomo reminded Mr. Devine that it was a second vote to which Hillary was referring, the TARP vote that would eventually include money to help stabilize the failing auto industry. And it is here that Mr. Devine, Bernie Sanders’ top spokesman, got GOP-style dirty:
DEVINE: Yeah, no, what she was talking about was the TARP, the bailout of Wall Street. And to take that money and to say, ha, ha, you’re against the auto industry because Bernie Sanders says the middle class of America should not bail out Wall Street is totally, utterly disingenuous. And it speaks to her great weakness as a candidate: that she cannot be believed.
There you have it. That attack on the integrity and honesty of Hillary Clinton is the exact same message that Republicans have been, are, and will continue sending to the American electorate in order to take control of the entire federal government. And it is damned sad that the Sanders campaign is helping them do it.