The past 24 hours have been a political whirlwind for the punditry. First, Hillary Clinton got hit with a haymaker by the State Department, which declared that her private e-mail server was far, far worse than an oversight or a mere “whoopsie.” And, even as the Clinton political machine began its spin, laughably trying to portray the State Department condemnation as merely a report that revealed that “other Secretaries of State used private e-mails, too,” a second haymaker hit: The possibility of a Sanders-Trump debate in California.
Days ago, you see, Hillary Clinton reneged on her previous agreement to have a final debate with Bernie Sanders in California ahead of the June 7 primaries. The Clinton campaign, in a display of haughty arrogance, declared that it was too busy focusing on the general election. At the time, pro-Clinton pundits applauded the decision as a smart move, proclaiming that Clinton was practically the Democratic nominee already. Why waste time on a primary election debate when you’ve got the nomination in the bag, right?
But then Donald Trump said he would be open to debating Bernie Sanders in California, and Sanders quickly accepted the challenge.
Immediately, problems arise for Hillary Clinton. A Sanders-Trump debate would be a tremendous opportunity for her progressive challenger, giving him unprecedented (and, for once, favorable) coverage by the mainstream media. Sanders would appear brave and presidential by being the Democrat onstage to square off against the Republican nominee (Donald Trump has clinched the 1,237 necessary delegates). Much ado would be made, of course, about Hillary Clinton’s conspicuous absence. The inevitable line? She was afraid to debate.
Even if Donald Trump tries to back out of the debate, Bernie Sanders still gains from the whole thing. It will appear as if Trump is afraid to debate Sanders, which will add extra emphasis to Sanders’ argument that he, not Hillary Clinton, is the Democrat best positioned to take on the GOP this fall. Sanders will appear as a Trump vanquisher, getting the bombastic billionaire to back off. Is Donald Trump afraid of Bernie Sanders? is a question that tremendously benefits Sanders as he tries to sway Democratic superdelegates before July 25.
I predict that Trump has too much to lose by backing out of the debate, and will have to appear onstage against the populist Vermonter.
During the debate, Sanders will claim an easy victory by forcing Trump to focus on policy and not scandal. While Trump could easily bog down a debate against Hillary Clinton for hours with discussion of her many scandals and flip-flops, Trump will find out very quickly that he has little to say against Bernie Sanders. Simply put, the Donald will be out of his element. After calling Sanders a communist, he will discover that his reservoir of attack lines has run dry. Now what?
But the biggest loser of that debate will undoubtedly be Hillary Clinton, who will be silent in the face of Trump’s attacks. He can say what he wants, and she will be unable to defend herself. Sadly, she should have seen this one coming…and she will now reap what she has sown.