Another week, another icon of the left disses the Democratic Socialist.
What I think has happened here is that Sanders decided that he might actually win the nomination and went negative — “unqualified!” (an absurd, even insulting, and arguably sexist, claim on its face, but more to the point, if true, why wait until now to make it) — to try to close the deal. A bad choice, I’d say. First, he probably won’t win the nomination no matter what he does because Clinton has the lead and will probably do well in the states with the most delegates. Second, he has such significant weaknesses himself — some of which Barney Frank and Paul Krugman have explained — that any effort to bring the campaign down will wind up hurting him more than his rival. A better strategy would have been to try to keep riding the kindly Vermont grandfather wave and hope to beat expectations in New York, California and the other big prizes. NYT:
But in any case, the way Mr. Sanders is now campaigning raises serious character and values issues.
It’s one thing for the Sanders campaign to point to Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street connections, which are real, although the question should be whether they have distorted her positions, a case the campaign has never even tried to make. But recent attacks on Mrs. Clinton as a tool of the fossil fuel industry are just plain dishonest, and speak of a campaign that has lost its ethical moorings.
And then there was Wednesday’s rant about how Mrs. Clinton is not “qualified” to be president.
What probably set that off was a recent interview of Mr. Sanders by The Daily News, in which he repeatedly seemed unable to respond when pressed to go beyond his usual slogans. Mrs. Clinton, asked about that interview, was careful in her choice of words, suggesting that “he hadn’t done his homework.”
But Mr. Sanders wasn’t careful at all, declaring that what he considers Mrs. Clinton’s past sins, including her support for trade agreements and her vote to authorize the Iraq war — for which she has apologized — make her totally unfit for office.
This is really bad, on two levels. Holding people accountable for their past is O.K., but imposing a standard of purity, in which any compromise or misstep makes you the moral equivalent of the bad guys, isn’t. Abraham Lincoln didn’t meet that standard; neither did F.D.R. Nor, for that matter, has Bernie Sanders (think guns).
I disagree with Krugman, however, that this is bad for the Democrats. A fierce primary makes the eventual nominee stronger. But it is probably bad for Sanders.