Let me start with a couple of images from online media:
And here’s a screen grab from CNN this morning:
By now, anyone interested enough to read a blog about politics knows what’s going on between Bernie and Hillary, especially related to the above images. For those who don’t know exactly, here is what Bernie said last night in Philadelphia:
Now the other day, I think, Secretary Clinton appeared to be getting a little bit nervous. We have won, we have won seven out of eight of the recent primaries and caucuses. And she has been saying lately that she thinks that I am, quote unquote, not qualified to be president.
Well let me, let me just say in response to Secretary Clinton: I don’t believe that she is qualified if she is, if she is, through her super PAC, taking tens of millions of dollars in special interest funds. I don’t think you are qualified if you get $15 million from Wall Street through your super PAC. I don’t think you are qualified if you have voted for the disastrous war in Iraq. I don’t think you are qualified if you’ve supported virtually every disastrous trade agreement, which has cost us millions of decent paying jobs. I don’t think you are qualified if you supported the Panama free trade agreement, something I very strongly opposed and which, as all of you know, has allowed corporations and wealthy people all over the world to avoid paying their taxes to their countries.
Here is one simple fact: Hillary Clinton has never said Bernie Sanders was “not qualified to be president.” Never. She’s too much of a pro for that kind of talk in a primary campaign. And when Bernie put that in quotes last night, he was, to put it bluntly, telling a lie. I don’t know why he was telling such a lie, but it was a lie. Clearly he was disturbed by her remarks on MSNBC yesterday, when she—like any skilled politician running against him would naturally do—discussed his now famously disastrous interview with The New York Daily News. Here is the way Politico summarized her exchange on MSNBC:
When asked point-blank by “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough whether Sanders was ready for the Oval Office, Clinton raised the senator’s recent interview with the New York Daily News.
“Well, I think the interview raised a lot of serious questions,” Clinton said. “I think of it this way: The core of his campaign has been ‘break up the banks,’ and it it didn’t seem in reading his answers that he understood exactly how that would work under Dodd-Frank.”
Asked again whether Sanders is qualified, Clinton dodged. “Well, I think he hadn’t done his homework, and he’d been talking for more than a year about doing things that he obviously hadn’t really studied or understood, and that raises a lot of questions,” she said.
Asked a third time, Clinton said she would “leave it to voters to decide who of us can do the job the country needs.”
I have followed politics a long time. What Hillary did was what anyone in her position would do. She took advantage of her opponent’s most recent mistake. She used Bernie Sanders’ bewildering interview with the Daily News to make the point that he talks a good game, but there’s not much substance behind what he is saying. And she went out of her way to avoid saying he was “not qualified.” She could have said it. She could have said how that latest interview suggested that his ignorance of things he should know a lot about might be disqualifying. But she refrained. She’s smarter than that. She knows what uttering that phrase would have meant.
But for Bernie it was a different matter. Not only did he tell his supporters a falsehood about Hillary Clinton, he then stumbled down the low road and put the label of “not qualified” on her. Sanders has hammered Clinton, countless times, for all the same reasons he hammered her last night. He has implied she is dishonest and corrupt. His surrogates have openly said she is untrustworthy and a liar. Bernie’s campaign manager—his bleeping campaign manager!—suggested her campaign was willing to “destroy the Democratic Party to satisfy the secretary’s ambitions to become president of the United States.” That utter nonsense, by the way, came from someone representing a man who has spent nearly his entire political career trashing the Democratic Party.
But despite all the attacks on her integrity, both implied and expressed, Bernie’s campaign has stopped short of saying she wasn’t fit to be president. Now, though, either because of exasperation or desperation, his campaign has gone too far. They have injected poison into this primary race, the same kind of poison Republicans are now using against each other, and will certainly use against Democrats after the GOP primary fight is over.
I’ll admit my first reaction last night, upon hearing Bernie’s latest assault, was to get angry and write an “I told you so” post today. I wanted to tell all of Bernie’s die-hard supporters, who may or may not think Hillary is corrupt but who definitely think that at the end of this process Bernie will get on board and back her if she wins, that they have always been wrong about him. That he is the one who has shown a willingness to damage the interests of the Democratic Party in order to satisfy his own ambitions, whatever they have been. That he isn’t exactly a Kumbaya kind of guy when he loses.
But then I thought about it some more.
Getting angry at Bernie Sanders or his supporters won’t help Democrats win in November. We can’t afford to lose too many voters who now believe, sometimes with reckless fervor, that Bernie is the best choice. I know we will lose some, perhaps a lot, but the more we can convince Bernie supporters that the Democratic Party, as a whole, is the only thing standing in the way of a Republican assault on progress, the better off we will be as a party, and, more important, as a country.
So, with that in mind, I am asking Bernie supporters everywhere to take a good look at what Bernie did last night. And take a sober look at the likelihood that Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination and face a Drumpf or a Cruz or a Kasich or some other reactionary Republican in the fall. Then ask yourselves an important question: Did Bernie hurt or help the Democratic Party’s chances of winning in November?