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.