A Bern for the worse

Straight up, Bernie Sanders was out of line. Dangerously so.

I’m talking about calling Hillary Clinton “not qualified” to be President. Not once, but over and over again.

Yes, he phrased it in terms of his typcal critiques of the Clinton record, but adding “not qualified” is a step too far. That’s a toxic, radioactive term. It crosses the line between criticism and defamation.

And it gives aid and comfort to the enemy. You don’t think conservative attack merchants aren’t already writing the ads, featuring artfully-edited passages from Bernie’s speech? He should know better than to provide them with ready-made cannon fodder.

Bernie claims that Hillary started it. “She has been saying lately that she thinks that I am, quote unquote, ‘not qualified’ to be president,” he told a crowd in Philadelphia last night.

That, right there, is a lie. She never said that, quote-unquote or otherwise.

What she did do was evade a question about whether Bernie was qualified, instead pivoting to her talking points about a recent Bernie interview with the New York Daily News, in which he was more than a bit fuzzy on quite a few policy details. Standard politician’s practice (including Bernie): don’t answer the question they ask, answer the question you want to answer.

She never said he was “not qualified” or “unqqualified” or anything like it.

Today, Bernie’s trying to walk it back without giving any ground, which would be a neat trick if he could pull it off. He deployed the classic politician’s smoke screen: blaming the media.

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.”

“That is what was thrown at me,” Sanders said.

Yeah, well, that was the Post’s characterization of Hillary’s remarks. Bernie was the one who stuck it in Hillary’s mouth and put quote marks around it.

If Bernie doesn’t want to take it back for the sake of the truth, he should do it for his own political prospects. His campaign team no longer expects to win the nomination outright; they’re just hoping to get to the convention and start changing the minds of the superdelegates.

Ya think he’s helping his cause by lying about Hillary Clinton? No, he’s making things worse. Hillary’s been a leading Democrat for a long time, a pillar of the party. Superdelegates, being mainly party leaders and elected officials, deeply respect Hillary and are grateful for her service. Bernie isn’t going to change their minds by slagging her unfairly.

21 thoughts on “A Bern for the worse

  1. walter h moses

    And HRC is revered and so trustworthy, too. Isn’t Shumlin a superdelegate? He would understand.

  2. fatherlinda

    It’s a media-generated flap, and you’re not helping. You yourself are perpetuating a media-generated falsehood by calling Bernie’s remarks to the NY Daily News (!) “fuzzy.” The full transcript is available, and I’m told it takes 45 minutes to read. I don’t have 45 minutes to spare, but maybe you should take the time, and not judge what Bernie said by the NYDN’s edited version. That snippet bears about as much relation to the truth as Rachel Maddow’s editing out Bernie’s expression of outrage at Trump’s “punish women” remarks and just handing Hillary his concluding words on the media’s eagerness to play up anything Trump as opposed to focusing on real issues, as if that were the sum total of what he had said, giving Clinton a soft opening to attack Bernie for not caring about women. Don’t be like that!

  3. Rich Cassidy

    “Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton on Wednesday questioned whether her rival in the Democratic presidential primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), is qualified to be president.”
    “I think he hadn’t done his homework and he’d been talking for more than a year about doing things that he obviously hadn’t really studied or understood,” Clinton said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” just one day after losing the Wisconsin primary to Sanders, “and that does raise a lot of questions.”

    — Washington Post

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      Which is not the same as directly saying “not qualified.” Nor does it excuse Bernie from claiming that Hillary actually, quote-unquote, said those very damaging words.

  4. Kelly

    “And it gives aid and comfort to the enemy. You don’t think conservative attack merchants aren’t already writing the ads, featuring artfully-edited passages from Bernie’s speech? He should know better than to provide them with ready-made cannon fodder.”

    Ok. First things first. We all know exactly how the political game works. Hillary might not have said the words – “He is not qualified.” – but boy has she seriously implied it, along with the majority of her surrogates. Come on! What do you think her answer meant when Joe Scarborough asked her if she thought Bernie Sanders is qualified to be president of the United States? She said, “Well, I think the interview raised plenty of questions.” You’re not stupid. We’re not either. We all know exactly what she meant so it is hard to take your drama seriously. “Aid and comfort to the enemy”? “Attack merchants”? “Cannon fodder”? Do you feel the same about what Hillary said, “implied”, about Bernie? Because I sure didn’t see you directing any of this her way.

    Geez! One might think that we should just get on board the Hillary train and not question ANY of the questionable things she’s said, done, accepted (as in big corporate money), lied about, made up, implied, changed her mind on, etc. Why Heaven forbid we give aid and comfort to the enemy by questioning a candidate for the presidency of the United States who really really needs to be questioned! You don’t really have to look very hard to see all the questionable things she’s been involved with because, as she likes to say, she’s been in it for a very long time. You know, all those things that for some reason are always someone else’s fault? It’s all there but oddly no one in the mainstream media is really interested in asking those questions. Why is that? Maybe because they’ll get the old “cannon fodder” routine? Or maybe word has gone out from the higher ups that Hillary is it and end of story? You won’t even ask the tough questions, and you ask people questions all the time. Why is that?

    Here’s an article that highlights some of the Hillary stuff of late.


    You know, if the status quo thinks the “vote for the lesser of two evils thing” is going to work this time, I’m not so sure they’re right about that. Careful. Careful.

      1. Faith King

        New flash. The choice we’re discussing is Clinton vs. Sanders. There’s still a primary happening. As for “dangerous” and “toxic” … she’s been slamming at him six-way’s-to-Tuesday. Along with Bill, Albright and other surrogates. Many of whom are in the media. Throwing every possible dog-whistle she can out there to insinuate he’s not a capable of leading or getting things done. She did a Politico interview titled “Clinton is done with Bernie Sanders”. “Done?” (Like a fleck on her shoe she’s tired of and ready to wipe off?) I actually think using Sandy Hook as part of her campaign rhetoric is “not nice” and completely over-the-top. Dead children vs. she’s-not-qualified-because-she’s-in-bed-with-Wall-Street. No contest there. HRC wins the bad taste award.

    1. Kelly

      Well I knew you were going to say that.
      No. No I don’t want Ted Cruz to get elected. Or Donald Trump, just for the record.

      So you are “implying” that in order to prevent Ted Cruz or Donald Trump from becoming president I and others must vote for Hillary Clinton? You do know that all the polls show Bernie beating both of them in the general election by more points than Hillary right?


      Please then, explain again why we should vote for Hillary?

      Seems to me you would want to look behind the “Establishment” and mainstream media’s push for Hillary Clinton. So many red flags being ignored like:

      Why aren’t they really connecting the dots to her past behavior – they have footage and she’s big time on the record. Remember, “Where was Bernie Sanders when I was talking about healthcare?” He was standing right behind her supporting her. Footage. Proof.

      What about her chameleon like changes during this campaign? Always the victim. One victim role after the other until…..people started to notice. Then it stopped. Poof!

      How about her willingness to exploit every situation for political gain – be it the leaded water drinking children of Flint, every mother who has lost a child to police violence, every parent of Sandy Hook whose child was murdered?

      These are just a mere few. There’s the environmental stuff, the Wall Street stuff, The Clinton Foundation (money in – favors out), etc. etc. Don’t you really want to know who she is? Or are you just willing to turn a blind eye?

      When Hillary used the quote by Maya Angelou, ‘When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.’, when she was talking about Trump, I found that so interesting. Because she has. Time and time again. So what gives? Why can’t you see the whole her? Does it not cross your mind that she most likely will not be able to “get things done”, like she says, because Republicans/Conservatives really really dislike her. Maybe hate. Bridges are not built on hate unless you’re Donald Trump. It is going to take someone who is not a Clinton or a Cruz or a Trump to even have a remote chance to bridge the giant gap in D.C. I think that best shot is Bernie Sanders. He has nothing to promote but the American people. No agenda bigger than that.

      And you can say that he’s a Democratic Socialist and he could never win. They will rip him apart in the general. Ha! I doubt it. That old codger is made of pretty tough stuff. He speaks to a world Hillary only pretends to. He has tremendous support and as more and more people get to know him, they fall in love with that old codger who cares about the basics of our country. The basics that matter to the majority of the American people. He knows about divide and conquer. He knows how the system works against the average person. And he is telling us. He is educating the masses. Shame on him huh? How dare he point out what a raw deal we are all getting. How dare he tell us there is a better way and we will need to pay attention and work together to improve our lot. How dare he not raise money from all those power hungry special interest. How dare he say war is the last choice not the first. Yep, how dare him.

      I suppose if the super delegates figure out that by pledging their support to Hillary Clinton early in the process and despite how their states voted is not going to bode well for them down the road, they might come to their senses. The people are hungry for change. The status quo can see the writing on the wall but they’re going to try and hang on to their power and position for all their worth…..and that’s a lot. Hence, the Hillary Show. This is not about us. It’s about them.

      It is time for it be about us.

      1. John S. Walters Post author

        I’m not going to try to answer all of this. (Boy, the Bernie supporters get all wound up whenever someone doesn’t agree with them.) But a couple of points…

        — What I’m saying is that if we wind up with Hillary as the Democratic nominee, then any Bernie supporters who boycott the election are aiding and abetting the Republican nominee.

        — Yes, I’ve seen the matchup polls and I don’t believe they prove anything. Hillary’s been under conservative attack for 25 years, including throughout this campaign season. The conservative attack machine hasn’t bothered with Bernie yet. If he’s the nominee, they’ll swing into action and his poll numbers will go down.

        — The superdelegates are a popular talking point for the Benieacs, but the truth is, Hillary’s won something like 2.5 million more votes than Bernie. If there were no superdelegates, Hillary would still lead this race because she has earned substantially more popular support than Bernie.

  5. Dave Katz

    Yeah, and Trump’s talking about big his wenis is. I notice that tidbit, as it were, flew right beneath your keen editorial standard-radar.
    Not beanbag, no, but Jeezus on a Segway at Walmart, can you journalmism types unwind your agenda panties, and not get the freakin’ vapors over this? Constitution, US type, qualification for office of POTUS: 1. Native born. 2. Over 35 years old. 3. Continuous residence for 14 years in the US. All the fellow-traveler chop-suey thrown around about “unqualified” is pretty weak sauce in this insane election year.
    Oh, yeah, and award winning reporter Juan Gonzalez–Society of Professional Journalists inductee into the New York Journalism Hall of Fame, and George Polk Award winner–look it
    up– who’s an emeritus of the NYDN staff, attended the Sanders interview, and said that Senator Sanders actually acquitted himself very well, in fact. So quick to believe everything you read in the Post, even….

      1. Faith King

        Everything to do with your post. Are you sure you’re not on David Brock’s payroll? If you’re not, you should be. He’s getting your services cheaply, and there’s an enormous amount of Clinton PAC money out there….
        See: https://www.publicintegrity.org/2016/04/07/19521/how-citizens-united-helping-hillary-clinton-win-white-house
        Well-researched piece on how Citizen’s United is helping HRC win the white house. Fascinating section on how Brock took over the Blue Nation Review and replaced founder, Jimmy Williams – a Clinton supporter who was NOT willing to play editorial favorites with Clinton over Sanders – with someone who was. Blue Nation Review now “routinely publishes pieces slamming Sanders or lauding Clinton”. Scroll down to where Brock did the same with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Knocked out the folks who wanted to do an effective, non-partisan job and replaced them with Democratic apparatchiks. HRC shamelessly pushed a narrative that Sanders doesn’t know what he’s talking about (even shoving the Daily News transcripts out to her big donors as “proof”); coyly implying he is unqualified. A comment that was insultingly taken up by her supporters. Ooo, but she didn’t actually say it. Big, friggin deal Now a respected, award-winning journalist who was actually there (ie, didn’t get his reports from the WaPo) contradicts your “fuzzy-answers-meme”. Actual evidence to the contrary. You, sir, are putting out material without checking the accuracy of it first. I suspect you know it – but are publishing click-bait.

      2. John S. Walters Post author

        I’m on nobody’s payroll. My views are my own. You know, it’s actually possible to honestly believe Hillary Clinton is the better choice.

      3. Dave Katz

        Au contraire, as our furbearing northern neighbors would say. This farcical “Unqualified!-gate” conflict is being played out wholly by the scribbling classes trying to reassert their relevance in the aftermath of getting those rakes to the forehead a)ignoring Senator Sanders’ campaign or snarkily playing him for a crotchety old gadfly until a bunch of those pesky voters started, well, voting for him; and b) slavishly buffing the the hell out The Donalddick for fun ‘n profit while somehow failing to observe the toxic effect carpetbombing the airwaves 24/7 with a fascist buffoon was having on our fragile-enough political civitas. Booooooo, Fourth Estate!

        Play-by-play horserace campaign coverage isn’t the same thing as informing an electorate. Let’s let Melissa Harris Perry say it herself, again:
        “Harris-Perry said that as the election year got underway, MSNBC executives pushed hosts to focus on play-by-play coverage of the 2016 race. That’s “not the same thing, in my perspective, as politics,” she added.

        “The former TV host and professor at Wake Forest University attributed her reluctance to fall in line with the network’s new direction—and frustration with what she said was a lack of communication—as the reason for her messy public departure from MSNBC in February.”

        Let’s talk some policy and not this bullshit Sparkplug-by-a-nose, shall we? For instance, the W. Bush tax haven agreement act with Panama enthusiastically promoted by Hillary Clinton as SoS and signed by Barack Obama in 2011 had a critic, who warned at the time that this deal was giving carte blanche to rich tax avoiders that was furthering income inequality and eroding the trust of most Americans in the financial system. That critic, as history so inconveniently records, was Bernie Sanders, I-VT. In light of the tidal wave of legitimate outrage that’s sweeping the globe, it seems a little odd, n’est-ce pas? that our parochial press hasn’t somehow seen fit to illuminate that uncomfortable fact, choosing instead to spend their blood and treasure trying to gin up The War Of The Words over some nothingburger of a couple presidential campaign press interviews –Gawd! Are you kidding?– in the hopes of being able to disinter their favorite zombie Both Siderism. Maybe you ink-stained wretches really, really hope this bit of foolish distraction will somehow cover up the glaring fact that many, if not most, of our scribbling classes simply Get It Wrong, over and over again, and yet mysteriously keep their jobs……

  6. newzjunqie

    Her Royal Haughtiness Hillary a sight to behold as she parades around with nose in stratosphere as though she’s already won and merely awaiting the formality of coronation. In each win full-throatedly bellowing acceptance speeches roboticly enunciated like she’s won the general. What’s good for the goose HRC!

    Taken aback by the pack-style assault on Bernie- esp on behalf of someone as inherently dishonest and given to ongoing bouts of pathological lying as fanclub ignores every red flag including FBI criminal investigation which she has repeatedly lied was taking place finally calling it a “security review”.

    Fact that Killary is being installed by DNC w/o any serious run by other qualified Dems as a monarch troubles no diehards? Here we are *again* with some dude- this time a whitehaired old man from VT- adored by and inspiring youth with rock-concert rallies messing up her plans after waiting her turn in the succession line to the throne- whaa. That he is awash with multimillions- most recent haul of $44 million in one month speaks volumes & translates into massive support & altogether shows depth of how widely is disliked and distrusted. Facts are stubborn things:

    DNC (they want to pick successor when FBI chickens come home to roost and do not want Bernie) & campaign in code-red panic mode or none of this would matter. What he said is effectively telling it like it is and echoes what’s going on inside heads of many voters. Personally credit campaign for reading pulse of electorate. Latest plot by HRC camp is “disqualify, defeat, unify later” and her minions are out in full force to take down Bernie because *he is winning* with identical talking points.

    Green-eyed monster not hard to spot. She and Bill have already played gender politics angle by painting Bernie a sexist. Clinton inferred that Bernie unqualified- no different than saying it outright, so why the poutrage? Now that it looks like Bernie could win all Dems who laughed him off are pissed-off now that he is surging and about to hand her-highness her ass with a New York win and jetting off to the Vatican for a speech sure can’t hurt.

    We the (little) ppl won’t behave, fall-in & march lockstep with the party establishments’ chosen, accept business-as-usual including succession of dynasties to the throne. Republican heir-apparent Jeb unceremoniously tossed out on ear.

    Replaced by a thug-like rich guy, who’s not even a republican. Channeling a tyrant, whose rise and behavior mirrors Adolph Hitler & who kept Hitler speech collection by bedside, bragidoces, bellicoses and buys his way into the hearts of millions including the press.

    On the left, ex-flotus who according to many women including Bills’ ex-lovers & alleged victims aided & abetted sexual predator hubby & whose political career, as was hers marked by scandal and corruption which continues. Bob Woodward sez:

    In an interesting parallell- both parties facing same headache. And, now looks like Dem convention could be contested also. Party bosses and stalwarts expect the Dems to blindly support someone who is seen, with her husband, as career criminals going back to Arkansas and put them back in WH. Personally don’t think she can win as Indies will not vote for her:

    Most voters including many Dems do not trust her which is why we’re seeing numbers plummet & collapse even with non-white voters- once strongest demographic:

  7. Sue Prent

    As you may recall, this whole scuffle started with a CNN report detailing Clinton’s plans to undermine Bernie following his streak of primary victories:

    “…Clinton took fresh aim at the Vermont senator as part of a three-part strategy before the New York primary on April 19: Disqualify him, defeat him, and unify the party later.”

    Under the circumstances, I don’t think his response requires an apology; it was certainly far less of a personal attack than her husband’s suggestions that Bernie’s criticism of her somehow make him a sexist; and I haven’t heard a word of apology for that from the Clintons.

    Hillary wants it both ways. She wants to send her husband out as an influential (and often nasty) political surrogate on the campaign trail, but she wants everyone else to respect a distance between herself and her husband’s fallible record…a record which she often vocally owned as well.


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