Saturday, July 20, 2024

Comentarios From Maria: Bernie Beyond the Pale


Sen. Bernie Sanders went beyond the pale this week by saying outright he did not think former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was qualified to be president.

His reason? He took a CNN report that the Clinton campaign was going to go hard against him and used that to incorrectly assert that Clinton was stating that Sanders is not qualified to be president. Let’s be very clear: Hillary Clinton has never said any such thing. But now Sanders has gone there. But he quickly realized that this was neither a smart nor a strategically effective move for him as he tried to, kinda, sorta, walk the comment back. But he needs to do more, and so does his staff, who have doubled down on his original comments. They should completely retract their unfortunate comments and here’s why.

For starters, the argument makes no sense. No matter what you think of her, no one believes that a former successful attorney in her own right, a former first lady of both Arkansas and of the United States, a former two-term senator from the great state of New York and a former successful and highly popular secretary of state is not qualified to be president. Even some of Sanders’ supporters have been turned off by this over-the-line comment.

Second, Sanders’ statement goes against the pledge that he made at the beginning of his campaign that he was going to stick to the issues and not embark on personal attacks. Many believe he has already broken that promise by impugning Clinton’s integrity and character when he implies she is bought and paid for by Wall Street honchos (even while he cannot point to any vote or change of position that proves it).

 But this week, he hit below the belt, got personal and got nasty. Not even in the most intense days of the campaign between then-Senators Clinton and Barack Obama did either of them say the other was not qualified to be president.

Third, that comment and the fact that he is doubling down on it reeks of desperation. Maybe his campaign is reeling from the disastrous New York Daily News interview where he flailed and stumbled while trying to answer straightforward questions about how he would achieve the signature items he talks about on the campaign trail, such as breaking up the banks and prosecuting Wall Street executives for their roles in the 2008 financial crisis.

Perhaps worst of all, especially for New Yorkers, was how Sanders failed to answer key questions of national security such as where he would put an Islamic State group terrorist if caught, and what he thought about President Obama’s drone policies.

I am not a New Yorker, but as a longtime resident of Washington, another target of the atrocious 9/11 terrorist attacks, I found those answers spine-chilling coming from someone who is asking us to give him the title of commander in chief. I can imagine that for folks who hail from the state that is home to ground zero that feeling would be downright ice-in-the-blood terrifying.

The “unqualified” comment preceded another flawed remark he made in response to yet another very serious misstep during the New York Daily News editorial board meeting.

Sanders was confronted about not believing that gun manufacturers should have any kind of liability for deaths at the hands of those who can so easily purchase and obtain their products. Consequently, some of the families of the victims of the unspeakable tragedy at Sandy Hook took him to task and said he owed them an apology. Sanders, mistakenly thinking it was Clinton demanding the apology, went on a tirade about how she should apologize for her Iraq War vote (she has), for taking money from Wall Street and for supporting free trade agreements – both of which Obama and many other Democrats have done as well. Which raises the question: Does he think Obama is unqualified to be president?

It all makes him sound like he is coming undone, which is very unfortunate because up until now, the Democratic presidential campaign had been a proud sight to behold, especially in comparison to the debacle that has become the Republican Party’s primary process. To be sure, there is still no comparison with the nastiness, debauchery and slander that is happening on the other side. They are in the gutter.

This is why Sanders and his staff have to be careful. We don’t want to end up there too.

For her part, Clinton will not engage in this behavior. It is beneath a presidential candidate. Even when baited three times by Joe Scarborough on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” she declined to say Sanders was unqualified and has said unequivocally that he is far and away a better choice than Donald Trump or any of the other Republicans.

Will she stop making sharp contrasts between herself, her decades-long record of achievement for the American people, her experience and knowledge on the issues and that of Senator Sanders? Absolutely not. That is what campaigns are all about. That is what America deserves.

So let’s just chalk it up to nervousness and speaking too quickly and too off the cuff, being too “authentic” for his own good. If Sanders really believes what he said about Clinton, he is in tune with neither the majority of Democrats nor the majority of Americans in the country, and it shows in the leads of nearly 2.5 million more votes and 240 more pledged delegates she has over Sanders.

It is my hope and that of many Democrats that Senator Sanders will reflect, take a step back, withdraw these misguided comments entirely, refocus on the issues, run the campaign he promised to run and finish the process in a way all Democrats and Americans can be proud of.

Original story can be found on U.S. News