There was an interesting contrast on display Sunday, as both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton whiffed on an important foreign policy question, but to varying degrees and for different reasons.
At issue is a controversial bill that would allow Saudi Arabia to face liability for the 9/11 attacks in American courts, which has in turn elicited threats of a massive sell-off of American assets by the Saudi government. The bill is currently in the Senate, where Sanders works, but like so many of the questions he was asked in that recent NY Daily News editorial board meeting, Sanders didn’t have enough information to respond:
Well, I need more information before I can give you that decision….You’re asking me to give you a decision about a situation and a piece of legislation that I am not familiar with at this point, and I gotta have more information on that. You gotta get some information before you can render a sensible decision.
This is especially deadly for Sanders, given his already-shaky foreign policy chops (not his principles, his chops) and recent penchant for not knowing shit.
Lucky for him, Hilary Clinton whiffed on the same exact question, but for entirely different reasons:
CLINTON: I don’t really know about that, George. I’ll have to look into it. Obviously we’ve got to make anyone who participates in or supports terrorism pay a price. And we also have to be aware of any consequences that might affect Americans, either military or civilian or our nation. So I’m not—
STEPHANOPOULOS: (CROSSTALK) You don’t’ know about—It’s been around for several years.
CLINTON: Well, I know there’s been an issue about it for quite some time. I don’t’ know about the specific legislation that you’re referring to, but obviously I’ll look into it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay, so– but you’re not prepared to say now whether you support or oppose it?
CLINTON: I can’t. I haven’t studied it. Unlike some people, I actually do try to learn what’ sat the core of any question before I offer an opinion, cause you know, it’s not enough to say what’s wrong. I think you’ve got a responsibility to say how you’re going to fix it.
There are a couple of key differences, the least important being that Sanders is currently a member of the Senate, while Clinton is not, but should still have enough information to take a position. More salient is the fact that the Obama administration is lobbying against the bill, which puts Hillary between an Obama rock and a 9/11 families hard place. Opposing the bill would also seem inconsistent with her position on suing gun manufacturers, although it really isn't. My guess is Hillary knows this bill is a bad idea, but would rather avoid explaining why. When you're explaining, you're losing.
Sanders took another stab at it as well, still professing ignorance of the bill, but warning that the United States should not be "blackmailed" by Saudi Arabia:
Elsewhere in the CNN interview, Sanders was given another crack at attacking Hillary Clinton over campaign contributions when Bash asked him to name a decision Hillary had made that was influenced by money, and Sanders fed Bash the exact line that CNN reporter Jeff Zeleny gave him Thursday night, although Sanders coyly refused to chalk it up definitively to campaign cash:
Sanders was also asked about his position on liability for gun manufacturers (This is the immunity shield law that Bernie voted for, and here is the repeal bill that he signed on to as a co-sponsor on January 28, after Hillary Clinton made this a campaign issue), and explained that his new position is not really his new position, it’s just that he contradicted himself when he was asked about it before?
Dana Bash asked Sanders to respond to remarks by Vice President Joe Biden, in which Biden praised the trip but pushed back against the notion that the Pope necessarily favors Sanders’ economic policies. Sanders told Bash he “loves” Biden, and that “no one is suggesting that the Pope is embracing my policies,” but seemed to suggest that he ought to:
Hillary slapped back at Donald Trump for nicknaming her "Crooked Hillary," which is actually a lot nicer than a lot of what Team Sanders has been saying:
.George Clooney has been getting a lot of play Sunday morning over an excerpt from his Meet the Press interview with Chuck Todd in which he agrees that it’s “an obscene amount of money,” and that the pro-Bernie Sanders supporters who protested the event were right to do so. In the rest of the interview, however, Clooney made an excellent case, better than Hillary Clinton has, for why such fundraising is necessary, and not inconsistent with opposing big money in politics, while also pointing out that most of the money raised will go to electing a Democratic Senate that can enact reforms:
Elsewhere in the interview, Clooney expressed admiration and respect for Bernie Sanders, vowing to support him if he winds up being the Democratic nominee, and even offering to raise money for him if that should be the case:
He also described his one and only meeting with Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump. Clooney told Chuck Todd that he was sitting down when he met Trump, but that the weirdly and famously size-obsessed Trump subsequently “went on Larry King and told everybody I was short”:
John Kasich took a stab at fixing up his controversial remarks aboutyoung women avoiding parties with alcohol in order to prevent sexual assault. It didn’t go well, as Kasich tried to explain that the presence of alcohol at a party makes it “more difficult for justice to be rendered for a whole variety of reasons, adding “But we can still find a perpetrator.”
Kasich also bragged about the “lady attorney” who helped him reach out to college campuses, but apparently never let him borrow her 1953-to-English Dictionary. Host Dana Bash continued to press Kasich when he wondered why his position was such a big deal, explaining that telling women their credibility will be attacked if there’s alcohol around discourages reporting of sexual assault:
And finally, there was one more volley in the Corey Lewandowski/Michelle Fields saga (short answer: I'm on Michelle's side). Here's Lewandowski:
And here's Fields, for the first time since charges were dropped: