Let’s just dispense with the pleasantries and come right out and say it: Bernie Sanders just embarrassed himself in ways not a single political opponent of his throughout the years ever could. That’s often how it works in politics, with obsessive, quixotic crusades eventually becoming the undoing of those who undertake them and the revelation that you’re in fact nothing more than a bitter crank happening at the most inopportune of times — typically when you’re staring down the barrel of defeat but still hanging onto hope.
Up until recently, maybe you could’ve argued that both Sanders and Hillary Clinton had a fair claim to the highest office in the free world, but the past few days have shown us through a series of demonstrably wrong and recklessly unhinged statements that Bernie’s off his fucking rocker. The latest proof of this comes to us in the form of a claim by Sanders that’s so categorically false while also having the benefit of being relentlessly petty that you have to wonder if he, as a man of such alleged integrity, ran to a bathroom and threw up after he said it. It came during a stump speech in Pennsylvania, where Sanders is facing an uphill battle in the polls. That’s where Sanders told a crowd of his supporters that Hillary Clinton “is not qualified” to be president.
Now, at face value this is ludicrous. Whether you love Hillary Clinton or despise her, it’s very tough to argue with the fact that she has better qualifications to be President of the United States than almost anyone in the past half-century. She’s a two-term senator from New York, a former secretary of state and a former first lady. That’s an absolutely staggering level of experience no matter how you slice it, so right off the bat Sanders is full of shit. But when you look at the full quote and the context of it — that’s when you begin to get real insight into how Bernie Sanders thinks and how blinded he is by his own ideological stridency.
In making the comment about Clinton’s qualifications, Sanders claimed to be responding to an equally dismissive statement from Clinton that Sanders wasn’t qualified to be president. There’s only one problem: Clinton never said Sanders wasn’t qualified. During an interview with MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Clinton was pressured to say that Sanders isn’t qualified three times and not once did she actually say that. She cited their differences in experience, but she expressly refused to say he was unqualified. Sanders, in other words, shooting from the hip, fired back at a statement nobody ever made. That’s the first issue.
The second issue appears when you look at the words around Sanders’s statement that Clinton is unqualified, because, well, get ready for a full-on Bernie buzzword bukkake. Sanders said he didn’t think Clinton was qualified for the White House if she got “$15 million from Wall Street” or if she “voted for the disastrous war in Iraq” or if she “supported virtually every disastrous trade agreement.” In other words, if you’re not ideologically pure to Sanders’s rigorous standards, or if God-forbid you’ve had to at some point actually govern and compromise in the name of getting as much as you can from a divided government, you’re not fit for the office. This insinuation speaks volumes about Sanders, his motivations, and the kind of utterly ineffective president he’d be.
But here’s the best part. All of this started because the Beltway suck-ups on Morning Joe asked Clinton to comment on a New York Daily News interview with Sanders that should have shaken his supporters to their core (were they not more disciples and minions than supporters). In the lengthy, in-depth discussion with Sanders, the NYDN‘s editorial board, over and over, pressed Sanders to explain in detail how he would implement his plan to “break up the big banks” and exactly what laws were broken by Wall Street leading up to the 2008 crash. His answers to all those questions were superficial, scattershot or completely uninformed. The entire interview made it look like Sanders was a man of conviction, sure, but also one completely out of his depth. It made him look like an empty suit.
That’s what the Morning Joe crew was trying to get Hillary Clinton to say about Sanders, but she wouldn’t come right out and say it (even if she thinks it, which, to be honest, she should). So what you have here is Bernie Sanders, a guy who once swore to keep his campaign a positive one, saying something verifiably wrong about his opponent in response to a comment she never even made. You have Sanders promising to wage war against the Democratic party from inside its own gates, already trying to thwart the DNC in the upcoming New York debate and implying that he’ll turn the convention into a farcical last-ditch nomination fight that would amount to political suicide for the Dems. You have Sanders showing that he has no idea how to get the core tenets of his agenda from the stump-speech-applause-line phase to the legitimate-national-policy phase.
Put simply, you have Bernie Sanders looking, well, pretty much not qualified.