This is where everybody gets mad at me, but I gotta call 'em like I see 'em. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders each laid turds of varying size and strength today (technically, Bernie was yesterday, but it's hitting today), and they're both making me wish to hell that Obama could run again.
Let me start with Hillary. I don't know how this will cut for her with dopey independents in the general election, but for me, it evoked flashbacks to 90s triangulation on social issues. In her interview on The View Tuesday, Hillary apparently forgot what the terms "pro-choice," "pro-life," and "feminism" all mean (emphasis mine):
Hillary Clinton: ...I have no problem with people making the case, look, here’s the best choice or here’s a better choice, but when the government gets involved or when you say it’s illegal and women and doctors are criminals, that’s way too far for us.
Wingnut Co-Host Candace Cameron Bure: Do you believe you can be pro life and a feminist?
Clinton: Yes, I do, absolutely.
Bure: They’re not mutually exclusive?
Clinton: No, absolutely. look, I’ve been — and I’m sure that Whoopi and Joy have been — we’ve been in these conversations now for, what, 40-plus years, right? And I respect the opinions and beliefs of every woman. The reason why being pro choice is the right way to go is because it is a choice, and hopefully a choice that is rooted in the thoughtfulness and the care that women bring to this decision. So of course you can be a feminist and be pro life.
That's not how this works. That's not how any of this works. If you "have no problem with people making the case, look, here’s the best choice or here’s a better choice," then you are PRO CHOICE. If you prefer it when the "government gets involved or when you say it’s illegal and women and doctors are criminals," then you are "PRO LIFE," if you accept that political movement's nomenclature, or "anti-choice" if you're being accurate. Feminism respects women's choices, not women making choices for other women.
This is an opening for Bernie Sanders, who managed to get to Hillary's left on abortion this weekend, but he's got much bigger problems of his own.
Before I get to those, though, there's one more smaller, still aggravating moment from that View interview. While criticizing Donald Trump, Hillary also let slip this bit of pandering (I hope it was pandering) to right-leaning and other dopey independents:
His attitude about and what he has said about so many women – the way he treated Megyn Kelly, who is a superb journalist, right?
Now, I get that we're all supposed to love Megyn because Donald Trump hates her, and she does have her moments, but Megyn Kelly also has a long history of lying about President Obama, and also about Hillary Clinton, like when she said Hillary "may face indictment." Was that the superb journalism?
Then there's Bernie Sanders, whose problem is much, much worse substantively. If you haven't heard about it yet, Sanders did an interview with the editorial board of the New York Daily News that was so bad, I literally did not believe it, I thought they must've been fucking with me and really interviewed Donald Trump. I'm still not completely convinced it's legit, and won't be until I see actual video of it to make sure.
Hillary Clinton shill Jonathan Capehart picked out nine excerpts, only seven of which were worth a shit, and here they are:
1. Breaking up the banks
Daily News: Okay. Well, let’s assume that you’re correct on that point. How do you go about doing [breaking up the banks]?
Sanders: How you go about doing it is having legislation passed, or giving the authority to the secretary of treasury to determine, under Dodd-Frank, that these banks are a danger to the economy over the problem of too-big-to-fail.
Daily News: But do you think that the Fed, now, has that authority?
Sanders: Well, I don’t know if the Fed has it. But I think the administration can have it.
Daily News: How? How does a President turn to JPMorgan Chase, or have the Treasury turn to any of those banks and say, “Now you must do X, Y and Z?”
Sanders: Well, you do have authority under the Dodd-Frank legislation to do that, make that determination.
Daily News: You do, just by Federal Reserve fiat, you do?
Sanders: Yeah. Well, I believe you do.
Now, I don't know the answers to any of that shit, but I'm also not basing most of my campaign on it. A lot of these are like that.
2. The legal implications of breaking up a financial institution
Daily News: Well, it does depend on how you do it, I believe. And, I’m a little bit confused because just a few minutes ago you said the U.S. President would have authority to order…
Sanders: No, I did not say we would order. I did not say that we would order. The President is not a dictator.
Daily News: Okay. You would then leave it to JPMorgan Chase or the others to figure out how to break it, themselves up. I’m not quite…
Sanders: You would determine is that, if a bank is too big to fail, it is too big to exist. And then you have the secretary of treasury and some people who know a lot about this, making that determination. If the determination is that Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan Chase is too big to fail, yes, they will be broken up.
Daily News: Okay. You saw, I guess, what happened with Metropolitan Life. There was an attempt to bring them under the financial regulatory scheme, and the court said no. And what does that presage for your program?
Sanders: It’s something I have not studied, honestly, the legal implications of that.
3. Prosecuting Wall Street executives for the financial collapse of 2008
Daily News: Okay. But do you have a sense that there is a particular statute or statutes that a prosecutor could have or should have invoked to bring indictments?
Sanders: I suspect that there are. Yes.
Daily News: You believe that? But do you know?
Sanders: I believe that that is the case. Do I have them in front of me, now, legal statutes? No, I don’t. But if I would…yeah, that’s what I believe, yes. When a company pays a $5 billion fine for doing something that’s illegal, yeah, I think we can bring charges against the executives.
Now, this next one is bad, because even I know the answer to this one by heart:
4. Handling negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians over settlements
Daily News: I was talking about something different, though. Expanding settlements is one thing; coming into office as a President who said as a baseline that you want Israel to pull back settlements, that changes the dynamic in the negotiations, and I’m wondering how far and what you want Israel to do in terms of pulling back.
Sanders: Well, again, you’re asking me a very fair question, and if I had some paper in front of me, I would give you a better answer. But I think if the expansion was illegal, moving into territory that was not their territory, I think withdrawal from those territories is appropriate.
Daily News: And who makes the call about illegality, in your mind?
Sanders: Well, I think that’s based on previous treaties and ideas. I happen to think that those expansions were illegal.
Daily News: Okay, so if we were to find Israeli settlements, so-called settlements, in places that has been designated to be illegal, you would expect Israel to be pulling them back?
Sanders: Israel will make their own decisions. They are a government, an independent nation. But to the degree that they want us to have a positive relationship, I think they’re going to have to improve their relationship with the Palestinians.
"The basis for negotiations would be two contiguous states based on the 1967 boundaries, with mutually-agreed land swaps, Charlie." Rinse, repeat.
5. Looking back at the 2014 conflict between Israelis and Palestinians
Daily News: And I’m going to look at 2014, which was the latest conflict. What should Israel have done instead?
Sanders: You’re asking me now to make not only decisions for the Israeli government but for the Israeli military, and I don’t quite think I’m qualified to make decisions.
This is mostly a stylistic problem, saying "I don't think I'm qualified," but he could've said Israel is our ally, but he would have "urged restraint" or something, anything but "I don't think I'm qualified."
6. Israel and war crimes
Daily News: Do you support the Palestinian leadership’s attempt to use the International Criminal Court to litigate some of these issues to establish that, in their view, Israel had committed essentially war crimes?
Daily News: Why not?
Sanders: Why not?
Daily News: Why not, why it…
Sanders: Look, why don’t I support a million things in the world? I’m just telling you that I happen to believe…
Not being able to explain his stance on the ICC is bad enough, but then he proceeds to argue against himself by pointing out how "indiscriminate" the killing by the Israeli military was:
Sanders: Look, why don't I support a million things in the world? I'm just telling you that I happen to believe...anybody help me out here, because I don't remember the figures, but my recollection is over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza. Does that sound right?
Daily News: I think it's probably high, but we can look at that.
Sanders: I don't have it in my number...but I think it's over 10,000. My understanding is that a whole lot of apartment houses were leveled. Hospitals, I think, were bombed. So yeah, I do believe and I don't think I'm alone in believing that Israel's force was more indiscriminate than it should have been.
Already fatally weak on foreign policy, Bernie booted this ISIS question badly:
Daily News: Okay. American Special Forces recently killed a top ISIS commander, after they’d hoped to capture him. They felt, from what the news reports were, that they had no choice at that. What would you do with a captured ISIS commander?
Sanders: Imprison him.
Daily News: Where?
Sanders: And try to get as much information out of him. If the question leads us to Guantanamo…
Daily News: Well, no, separate and apart from Guantanamo, it could be there, it could be anywhere. Where would a President Sanders imprison, interrogate? What would you do?
Sanders: Actually I haven’t thought about it a whole lot. I suppose, somewhere near the locale where that person was captured. The best location where that individual would be safely secured in a way that we can get information out of him.
The worst part of this answer is "I haven't thought about it a whole lot," because a candidate can get away with a certain amount of "wait and see" when it comes to top secret things like this. "I'd weigh the recommendations of the intelligence community and the Justice Department," for example, would have been a decent parry.
If there's a silver lining for Bernie, it's that so far, there's no video out there, so it might not get the play it otherwise would, and it stands a decent chance of getting buried in election coverage. If this had a few days to marinate, it could well cost him Wisonsin.
These quotes will make terrific 30-second ads for anyone who has to run against Bernie, and they cut him in ways that particularly hurt him, slashing at his greatest strength while amplifying his most crucial weakness.
What's frustrating is that even on their very worst day, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are light years ahead of even the best Republican, even whatever loser they try to parachute in at the convention, but I suspect that at least in Bernie's case, the voters will never hear that from the media.
Update: And now there's video:
Also, Hillary is at least getting some good ink over this... from Newsmax.
I've been casting about to hear how each of the candidates' supporters would react to these. On Twitter, a few Hillary supporters made the "bigger tent" argument, but most conceded at least the inartfulness. I've heard nada from Bernie supporters on Twitter, but I did catch a few minutes from The Young Turks' live election stream. Cenk Uygur hadn't seen it yet, Ana Kasparian took issue with criticism she says she read at WaPo of his Israel comments, but I couldn't find anything but Capehart's, which had nothing to do with the controversialness of Sanders' positions, but with the indecisiveness and vagueness. Kasparian chalks that up to Bernie not wanting to seem like a leader in the capital L "Dear Leader" sense of the word.
I'm very interested to see what Cenk has to say once he has read this, but he and John Iadorola each made a good point, Cenk's being that Bernie will suffer much more for a much lesser offense than Donald Trump, and Iadorola's being that Hillary Clinton hasn't been asked many of these questions. One thing I meant to say earlier is that if Hillary' s campaign is going to jump all over Bernie for this, they damn well better have chapter-and-verse answers ready for all these questions first.