Thursday Reads: Bernie Blows UpPosted: April 7, 2016
Desperation has set in at Camp Bernie. Let’s count the ways.
First there was his disastrous interview with The New York Daily News, in which he demonstrated that he has no idea how to enact the policies he has been campaigning on for the past year, like breaking up the banks, prosecuting Wall Street criminals, continuing the drone war, and dealing with the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Then there was his insane response to Hillary Clinton’s criticism of the lack of preparation he demonstrated in that interview. In an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Clinton said that Sanders’ poor performance showed a lack of preparation. Clinton:
“I think the interview raised a lot of really serious questions,” she said. “He’s been talking for more than a year about doing things he obviously hadn’t really studied or understood.”
“I think what he has been saying about the core issue of his whole campaign doesn’t seem to be rooted in an understanding of either the law or the practical ways you get something done,” she added. “The core of his campaign has been breaking up the banks, and it didn’t seem in reading his answers that he would understand exactly how that would work under Dodd-Frank.”
“You can’t really help people if you don’t know how to do what you are campaigning (for) and saying you want to do,” she added. “I think he hasn’t done his homework.”
Note that Clinton did not say that Sanders is unqualified to be president, as the WaPo fact-checker wrote today. She simply noted that obvious–that he didn’t come to the interview prepared to answer questions about his own policies. But at a rally in Philadelphia yesterday, Sanders claimed that she had said he was unqualified; and he went on to baldly state that Hillary Clinton, a former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State who has been working to advance the goals of the Democratic Party for 40 years, is not “qualified” for the job is she running to win. MSNBC’s Danny Freeman:
Less than 24 hours after Sanders’ big win in Wisconsin, the senator from Vermont hammered Clinton for not being “qualified” to be president.
“Now the other day, I think, Secretary Clinton appeared to be getting a little bit nervous,” began Sanders in front of thousands at Philadelphia’s Temple University Wednesday night.
“And she has been saying lately that she thinks that I am, quote unquote not qualified to be president,” he said as the raucous crowd booed.
“Well 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,” Sanders declared.
He went on to list a number of traits disqualifying someone from being president all directed squarely at Clinton — with the crowd cheering enthusiastically after each bullet point:
“I don’t think that you are qualified if you get 15 million dollars from Wall Street through your Super PAC,” said Sanders. “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.”
He even blamed Clinton for the “Panama Papers.”
“I don’t think that 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,” Sanders concluded.
In the immediate aftermath of his remarks, it remained unclear exactly when he believes Clinton called him “not qualified” to be president.
On Twitter, a number of Clinton staffers and supporters called on Sanders to withdraw his vicious and false attack. Instead, he doubled down, sending out an email in which he expanded on his claims.
Here’s the problem: how can Sanders ever endorse Clinton now that he has said she is “unqualified?” Why would Clinton want him to campaign for her now? It’s also difficult to see how Sanders thinks this attack on Clinton will help him in the New York primary. Frankly, it looks like Bernie is just an angry guy who can’t control his emotions very well. Many voters would see that as disqualifying in a candidate for the presidency.
Bernie’s campaign manager Jeff Weaver was also busy attacking Hillary yesterday. Rebecca Traister has an excellent piece about it: The Sanders Campaign’s Sexist New Argument: Hillary Tries Too Hard.
On Tuesday night, following Bernie Sanders’s big win in the Wisconsin primary, his campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, understandably jazzed in the midst of a victory lap, said a really stupid sexist thing about Hillary Clinton.
When CNN’s Jake Tapper asked him about the increasingly aggressive rhetoric between Sanders and Hillary Clinton, Weaver averred that his campaign was prepared to play hardball. He then sounded a warning to the former secretary of State and her supporters, suggesting that they not get too critical of Sanders or his supporters. “Don’t destroy the Democratic Party to satisfy the secretary’s ambitions to become president of the United States,” Weaver said.
It was a small comment, in every sense. A throwaway bit of nastiness coming from a campaign manager in the late stages of a long and hotly contested primary battle. But the line, which overtly cast Clinton’s political ambition as a destructive force and framed her famous drive and tenacity as unappealing, malevolent traits, played on long-standing assumptions about how ambition — a quality that is required for powerful men and admired in them — looks far less attractive on their female counterparts, and especially on their female competitors.
Weaver’s language made explicit a message that has, in more inchoate form, been churning through the Sanders campaign’s messaging in recent weeks. As Sanders’s staffers spin the story of how they got to this point in the race — with a candidate whose success has been unexpected and thrilling, especially with young Democrats and independents, but who has failed to win over voters of color and older voters, and remains badly behind his tough opponent by nearly every metric — they seem to have been working on a new framing of Hillary, one that relies on old biases about how we prefer women to conduct themselves and how little we like those who flout those preferences.
As if Hillary is the one who is trying to blow up the Democratic Party when Sanders has never even been a Democrat and refuses to support other Democrats running for office this year. Please go read the whole thing. There’s much more about the sexist attacks on Hillary from the men who work for Bernie.
This morning Bernie was still at it, once again “doubling down” on his attacks on Hillary. Politico:
Bernie Sanders went after the media for “political gossip” Thursday before he doubled down on his sharp comments Wednesday night in which he questioned whether Hillary Clinton was qualified for the presidency.
“Any questions on the needs of the middle class of America before we get to political gossip?” Sanders asked following a brief news conference on trade in Philadelphia. “All right, now where’s your political gossip? OK, what do you got?”
The following question focused on the Vermont senator’s forceful rhetoric against Clinton at a rally on Wednesday. Sanders explained that he took issue with a Washington Post report on Clinton with a headline that said “Clinton questions whether Sanders is qualified to be president.”
I guess he didn’t read the article under the headline, which nowhere quotes Hillary as saying that. Maybe Bernie thinks she wrote the headline?
“If Secretary Clinton thinks that just because I’m from a small state in Vermont and we’re gonna come here to New York and go to Pennsylvania and they’re gonna beat us up and they’re gonna go after us in some kind of really uncalled for way, that we’re not gonna fight back, well we got another — you know, they can guess again because that’s not the case,” Sanders said. “This campaign will fight back.”
Sanders again called into question whether Clinton has the pedigree to win the White House on Thursday, invoking her vote for the Iraq War, support of trade deals and campaign donations from Wall Street and special interests.
Um . . . Bernie? Hillary never said you were unqualified. This guy is really losing it.
Now I want to touch on another issue that is going to hurt Sanders badly in New York and other Eastern states that have primaries coming up. In a little noted part of his Daily News interview, Sanders showed a stunning lack of compassion and lack of empathy for the relatives of the children and teachers who were murdered at Sandy Hook. From the Interview:
Daily News: There’s a case currently waiting to be ruled on in Connecticut. The victims of the Sandy Hook massacre are looking to have the right to sue for damages the manufacturers of the weapons. Do you think that that is something that should be expanded?
Sanders: Do I think the victims of a crime with a gun should be able to sue the manufacturer, is that your question?
Daily News: Correct.
Sanders: No, I don’t.
Daily News: Let me ask you. I know we’re short on time. Two quick questions. Your website talks about…
Sanders: No, let me just…I’m sorry. In the same sense that if you’re a gun dealer and you sell me a gun and I go out and I kill him [gestures to someone in room]…. Do I think that that gun dealer should be sued for selling me a legal product that he misused? [Shakes head no.] But I do believe that gun manufacturers and gun dealers should be able to be sued when they should know that guns are going into the hands of wrong people. So if somebody walks in and says, “I’d like 10,000 rounds of ammunition,” you know, well, you might be suspicious about that. So I think there are grounds for those suits, but not if you sell me a legal product.
It wasn’t just Hillary attacking Bernie for this yesterday.
On Tuesday evening, Erica Smegielski, the daughter of Sandy Hook’s principal who was killed in the shooting, tweeted the Daily News link, writing, “Shame on you @BernieSanders try living one hour in our lives.” Smegielski added in a second tweet, “I hope @BernieSanders really #feelsthebern of this one. His judgment is despicable.”
And from prominent Connecticut Democrats:
Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy said the public doesn’t need “apologists for the NRA.”
“He is just wrong,” Malloy, criticizing Sanders, told The News. “He is dead wrong on guns. He had an opportunity to educate the people of Vermont about guns. Vermont is small enough that he could have gone house to house to educate people about guns.”
Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy took to Twitter to shoot down Sanders’ gun stance, saying the presidential candidate is out of line.
“For Sanders to say that the Sandy Hook families should be barred from court, even if the weapon was negligently made, is wrong,” Murphy tweeted.
“Bernie is a friend, but this is really bad. Dems can’t nominate a candidate who supports gun manufacturer immunity.
From Katherine Speller at Bustle: Bernie Sanders ‘NYDN’ Interview Just Reminded Everyone Why He May Not Be That Progressive. The article has a good summary of the Sandy Hook case background.
According to court documents obtained by Bustle, the Sandy Hook case argues that the AR-15 — the weapon used in the Sandy Hook shooting that killed 26 people (20 of them small children) — is a military assault weapon capable of delivering 30 rounds in 10 seconds and penetrating body armor, designed to “deliver maximum carnage with extreme efficiency.” The complaint argues that Bushmaster and its parent company, Remington, were perfectly aware that “as a consequence of selling AR-15s to the civilian market, individuals unfit to operate these weapons gain access to them.” The complaint also argues that the companies’ marketing toward “military wannabes” and partnerships with games like Call of Duty show a disregard for the very real dangers of these weapons being commercially available.
Plaintiffs Mark and Jackie Barden — whose seven-year-old son Daniel was killed at Sandy Hook — criticized Sanders’ stance on their lawsuit earlier this year in an op-ed for The Washington Post. The Bardens said that Sanders understanding of the litigation was “simplistic and wrong,” and called for a more thoughtful approach from the senator to this particular breed of corporate responsibility:
… History has shown us, time and again, that it is innocent civilians in malls and movie theaters, and children in their classrooms, who have been made to bow down to the singular power of a gunman wielding an AR-15.
This is not a theoretical dispute. The last thing our sweet little Daniel would have seen in his short, beautiful life was the long barrel of a ferocious rifle designed to kill the enemy in war. The last thing Daniel’s tender little body would have felt were bullets expelled from that AR-15 traveling at greater than 3,000 feet per second — a speed designed to pierce body armor in the war zones of Fallujah.
Sanders has spent decades tirelessly advocating for greater corporate responsibility, which is why we cannot fathom his support of companies that recklessly market and profit from the sale of combat weapons to civilians and then shrug their shoulders when the next tragedy occurs, leaving ordinary families and communities to pick up the pieces.
If the Sandy Hook parents are able to see this case in court, it would be a major moment for critics of the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCCA), which made it pretty much impossible to go after gun manufacturers and distributors for negligence. Sanders helped to pass this law, and yet he has since pledged to help repeal it. However, separately condemning assault weapons while refusing to support the victims of those weapons in their fight for injunctive action leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Arguing that increasing accountability for manufacturers will somehow end the gun industry only adds to that concern.
When Hillary suggested he should apologize to the Sandy Hook relatives, Bernie said she should apologize to the victims of the Iraq war! Isn’t it funny how he seldom criticizes the Bush administration about the war they started and prosecuted?
I have more to say about disastrous effects of of Bernie Sanders’ gun policies, and I will write about it in my Saturday post.
What stories are you following today?