The other night’s debate was difficult to listen to if you’re a Bernie supporter, at least for me. This was because it was frustrating listening to Hillary’s statements that were those of a perhaps too-well-honed-lawyer. Things were technically true but just too close to being misleading. But that’s a part of politics. I wasn’t happy, but too bad.
What has been a lot more disturbing is the deteriorating tone out there on Facebook. Instead of predictably complaining about the raw tone toward Bernie. I’d rather point out as a Bernie supporter that the attacks on Hillary personally are becoming dangerously over the top.
The real problem is this: it is one thing to say that Hillary has often been slow to embrace forwardly progressive positions on issues from gay marriage and a $15 minimum wage to tougher labor standards on trade, electoral finance reform or fracking.
It is quite another to pretend Hillary’s caution is the same thing as corruption.
There is virtually no evidence that Hillary Clinton is personally corrupt. This a serious charge, and this not what Bernie is saying. Bernie is saying it is common sense that donors want something for their money. That is a reasonable conclusion to make, and I agree with it. But that does not mean that Hillary is corrupt, any more than it means that Barack Obama is corrupt, or Elizabeth Warren is corrupt because she accepts donations from wealthy individuals as well as those of modest income.
I hope we who support Bernie can follow his lead in making this critical distinction. Hillary Clinton has her limitations like any human being, but she is not corrupt, and has been transparent about her financial dealings. This is no small matter.
Should she have accepted large speaking fees from corporations like Goldman Sachs? I say no. But I also can acknowledge that she could grow on this issue as she grown through the years on so many others – in part by listening to people very close to her like Barney Frank and many labor leaders.
Continuing to create a Hillary caricature when Bernie criticizes certain of Hillary’s past decisions helps no one except Trump and Cruz.