Thursday, April 07, 2016


I don't like this, but I think I understand it:
Bernie Sanders said Wednesday that Hillary Clinton is not "qualified" to be president, a sharp escalation in rhetoric in the Democratic primary.

"Secretary Clinton appears to be getting a little bit nervous," he told a crowd in Philadelphia. "And she has been saying lately that she thinks that I am '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, through her super PAC, taking tens of millions of dollars in special interest funds. I don't think that you are qualified if you get $15 million from Wall Street through your super PAC."
There was more:

Sanders was responding to a Clinton interview on Morning Joe in which she repeatedly refrained from saying that Sanders is unqualified to be president, or even agreeing that the word "unqualified" applies, although she strongly questioned his grasp of the issues and his stance on gun liability. Sanders was responding to a Washington Post story about the interview with the headline "Clinton Questions Whether Sanders Is Qualified to Be President." The headline isn't really accurate.

I don't think Sanders literally believes Clinton is unqualified. What I think he's doing here is arguing like a New Yorker. New York arguments often have a tinge of echolalia. ("I'm full of shit? No, you're full of shit!")

But this might have been a significant gaffe, and not just because everything on the Sanders list except the Iraq vote is also true of the current president, who's still quite popular among Democratic voters, especially in the Eastern states that will host the next primaries (although the president is less of a favorite to the Sanders base).

This could be a problem because the assertion that Hillary Clinton isn't qualified to be president could feel to some voters like a Talese-esque dismissal of a woman who's earned the right to be taken seriously. It feels somewhat like Rick Lazio's aggressive walk to Clinton's lectern during a debate in the 2000 Senate campaign. In a way, it seems worse -- Lazio seemed to be making a calculated move that backfired, while Sanders seems to have said this because he's genuinely come to despise Clinton.

Then again, a lot more voters seem to despise her than even in 2000 (or 2008), so I'm not sure how this will play out. It could change the way the race is going. More likely, it'll just part of an ongoing series of ugly moments in a race that's now, shockingly, the uglier of the two primary fights. That needs to change soon. Democrats need to be the grown-ups to win.


Orthodox said...

She threw out the bait and he took it.

AllieG said...

Sanders is cranky by nature, and running for president brings out the crankiness in more tranquil souls than his.

Chai T. Ch'uan said...

I think you're partly right, and partly that Bernie was still irritated at Hillary's recent outburst to a reporter that she was "getting tired of Bernie Sanders lying."
Either way, it's clear Clinton abandoned the chivalry first, but predictably many surrogates are spinning it as if she's the innocent aggrieved.
I'm not surprised either to see all the same nasty "Fck Bernie" types shrieking who were so insufferable when she started getting crushed by Obama.
FireDogLake isn't dead, they just relocated to TPM comments.

Unknown said...

It's not going to change the way the race is going. The only chance Bernie had to get the superdelegates to support him was to finish ahead of Hillary by a large enough margin that they had no other choice. In the end, he's not going to finish ahead at all. Ah well.

As for the rest, the woman who voted to authorize the Iraq War saying "it is with conviction that I support this resolution as being in the best interests of our nation" has earned the right to never be taken seriously again.

Steve M. said...

I appreciate your moral certainty. I'm sure President Cruz will be much less warlike.

Ten Bears said...

Well, she did suggest that he wasn't qualified. But of course, she's perfect. Walks on water.

"Cruz will be ... " Oooooooo... I'm so scared I think I'll crawl under my desk and piss my pants.

Feud Turgidson said...

Some comments on this thread show more of the problem than the holier-than-thou anonymously-named authors admit. To them - it should be obvious to the regulars as to which invisibles and inscrutables I'm pointing: Grow up you fking idiots - we went thru this 8 years ago and all it shows, all it EVER proves, is big fat nothing on anything except WHO can best get up to each day, dress, breakfast, GTFO, get down the road and get on with the campaining.
Like it or no, where al;l this was, coming into last NIGHT, was Bernie crawled into a nice inviting pickle jar and had NO CHOICE but to get out by reaching for the high-road - when alluvasudden along came HRC, who didn't need to say a thing, but there she was, claiming the very position Bern HAD to - and now he's behind and leaking a quart of high road every news cycle.
Steve M.'s headline is PERFECT, not leave because it holds it's own confirmation. And in not just in 2000, in 2008 when situations like this came up, it was OBAMA already sporting the unsullied garments and peremptorily claiming the high ground, whenever HRC showed hesitation or stumbled. What happened in 2008 was thousands-on-thousands of Hillary hopers and HRC bloggers took from that a license to portray Obama as just another sleazy slimey opportunist to doing so. Well, that sure didn't help ANY of us thereafter, did it?

Bernie wasn't part of that. Bernie's never been a Dem. Bernie lacks institutional Dem memory. Bernie's liable to Naderize this by sheer know-at-all old man stubborn ignorance. This is going to unravel slowly, but unravel it will. Guh-bye, Bernie - and forget that keynote speech you figured to be fully free to give, schmuck: when the time comes, you read the version HRC has okay-d or you GTFO of the building and stand on an box in a park with your stupid bird.

Unknown said...

Steve, there are many hands where you might winningly play the Republican Bogeyman card to coerce a bone-weary Democratic electorate into voting Lesser Evil yet again. This is not one of them.

What is supposed to terrify us? That Cruz will lead a war of aggression against an oil-exporting Muslim country? That he will cackle in public about the violent death of its leader? That he will abandon the destroyed country to become a hellhole of civilian suffering and latent terrorism? And, as the final disgrace, plump himself on what a brilliant exercise of American power it represented?

Stick to abortion rights. At least we can count on Hillary being pro-choice until public polling against it reaches 53%.

Pragmatic Idealist said...

Interesting that several commenters didn't read or didn't believe that Hillary specifically refused to say that Bernie is unqualified.

In general I take "qualified" to mean that the person has the experience knowledge and temperament for the job. 2nd term Obama clearly did. Hillary, who lines up with Obama on all save Iraq, which is a big difference, does as well. Experience is not a litmus test of positions taken; for a president that two main areas needed are administrative and foreign policy. Haillary ahs major league experience in foreign policy and seemingly has greatly imroved as an administrator. At least in these areas their is no contest, just as there is no contest in who the nominee will be.

CH said...

Well... let's just say that I believe it would be prudent to wait until at least NY & Pa have voted before deciding that Sanders is the "schmuck" in this contest.

Pragmatic Idealist said...

If you really want to imagine what a Cruz presidency could be consider that he, his father and the head of Cruz' SuperPAC are all Seven Mountain Dominionists who believe that Cruz has been ordained by God to be one of the Christian Kings who will rule the world during the end times and take all the money from the wicked and give it to the righteous few among other fevered dreams.

Leo Artunian said...

"More likely, it'll just part of an ongoing series of ugly moments in a race that's now, shockingly, the uglier of the two primary fights."

Really, Steve? This contretemps between Sanders and Clinton isn't even as ugly as Donald Trump alone on a good night. Have we really become so jaded by the months-long debacle among the Republican candidates that we're no longer aware of how out-and-out nuts it all is? Is this uglier than those clowns arguing about penis size? Really?

And Unk, if you're not afraid of Ted Cruz getting anywhere near the Oval Office -- even to clean the floor with his reptilian tongue -- somethin' ain't right. "Lesser evil" is a pretty compelling argument for those likely to be kicked to the curb, stomped on, and immolated by "Greater Evil."

jsrtheta said...

I must say that some of these comments are disturbing. FWIW, I grew up on the East Coast, and then lived another 20 years in Chicago, and I worked in Democratic politics for many of all those years (albeit in the very lower ranks), and for anyone over 40, Bernie messed up big time.

I understand that Bernie was possibly responding to a very misleading headline. But, as is obvious from the Daily News interview, Bernie just didn't do what any responsible person would do in his position: read the frickin' article. Had he done so, he would have seen she did not say what the headline says. Instead, he lashed out, and he did so in a way that many, many voters will be offended by. There is a tone to these things, and he was deaf to it. He came across as petulant and, frankly, Trumpish. What's he saying? "She started it!"

In a sense, he managed to divert attention from what is by far the more damaging story. Namely, his utter cluelessness in the Daily News interview. Like it or not, if you're going to make policy pronouncements, there had better be some tree behind the bark. And he clearly has never taken the time to draft even a rudimentary plan to accomplish what he promises. This is Politics 101. And he flunked big time. This is just the sort of thing the punditocracy will glom onto. And the execrable Mark Halperin for once was right: If Hillary had given the answers Bernie gave, she'd be crucified.

Bernie isn't in Wisconsin anymore. He's in the biggest media market there is, period. And he's redefining the phrase "empty suit".

Paul Gottlieb said...

Sanders is losing, and after New York and California it will be obvious that his tiny chance has disappeared. The question is will he suck it up and try to do the right thing for the country by supporting the Democratic ticket? Or will he flounce away in a big sulk. A few months ago I would have bet on his doing the right thing, but I have serious doubts now. He seems to be in the grip of a kind of narcissistic delusion where only he is worthy and everyone else is a corrupt sellout

jsrtheta said...

I fear that somewhere along the line he started to drink his own Kool Aid. I never bought into the idea that he would put aside his arms and opt for party unity. I am becoming more and more convinced that I was right. He would rather be a Nader and pure, and fuck the Dems because they rejected his obvious wisdom.

When one is convinced of one's infallibility, one doesn't settle for second best.

Ten Bears said...

I'm sorry, but as New York Times finance and business reporter Peter Eavis has argued: "taken as a whole, Mr. Sanders's answers seem to make sense. Crucially, his answers mostly track with a reasonably straightforward breakup plan that he introduced to Congress last year."

- Within the first 100 days of his administration, Sen. Sanders will require the secretary of the Treasury Department to establish a “Too-Big-to Fail” list of commercial banks, shadow banks and insurance companies whose failure would pose a catastrophic risk to the United States economy without a taxpayer bailout.

- Within a year, the Sanders administration will work with the Federal Reserve and financial regulators to break these institutions up using the authority of Section 121 of the Dodd-Frank Act.

- Sen. Sanders will also fight to enact a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act to clearly separate commercial banking, investment banking and insurance services. Secretary Clinton opposes this extremely important measure.

- President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Glass-Steagall Act into law precisely to prevent Wall Street speculators from causing another Great Depression. And, it worked for more than five decades until Wall Street watered it down under President Reagan and killed it under President Clinton. That is unacceptable and that is why Sen. Sanders will fight to sign the Warren-McCain bill into law.

Just sayin'.

sdhays said...

The campaign is not wearing well on Bernie. I think it's taking its toll on his energy and judgement. He wasn't and isn't ready for the beating a Presidential campaign puts you through, and, by extension, he isn't ready for the beating of being President. I hope he gets some time to self-reflect soon so as to pull back and save some of his dignity.

Ten Bears said...

Lost the link in the cut & paste. The whole thing is downstream a couple days @ my place.

jsrtheta said...

Sorry, Ten Bears, but no one in the proverbial MSM is going to re-post what you have posted. Meaning, thinking of the best answer in the car on the way home doesn't count.

More importantly, a serious candidate says, "Here is what I want to do, and this is how. We have to..."

They don't say "I suspect" or "If I had some paper in front of me". It's like a Jeopardy contestant saying, "Can I use one of my lifelines, Alex?" Wrong game. Guess what, Bernie? You're in the bigs now. Answer the fucking question. All of the BSers' complaints add up to "Give me a do-over!" Well, welcome to the bigs. No do-overs. You don't bring a C game to the A league. What's he gonna say to Putin? "Wait, I didn't mean that?" Hey Bern, wanna play? Then buck up or fuck up. And when you fuck up, no one's gonna care about what you really meant. All along, Bernie has been playing a hypothetical president. Guess what, Bern? It ain't a hypothetical world. Time he learned it. Actually, past time.

Welcome to the bigs, Bernie. Now get out of the way, and let the grownups play. We can't afford you.

Ten Bears said...

That is certainly Republican of you.

Tom Hilton said...

Democrats need to be the grown-ups to win.

Sanders is not a grown-up, unfortunately.

And I'll say what Clinton wouldn't: he is temperamentally and intellectually completely unqualified for the presidency.

Tom Hilton said...

Either way, it's clear Clinton abandoned the chivalry first,

Right, because since at least January she's been relentlessly waging a dishonest guilt-by-association attack on Bernie, effectively calling him a tool of Wall Street. And this after her incessant moral preening about how she never runs negative ads.

Oh, wait--other way around. Never mind.

Kathy said...

Thank you, Tom.