The Democratic presidential primary has gotten much tighter, with U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) now neck-and-neck with former frontrunner Hillary Clinton both nationally and in Nevada, which caucuses today. This recent surge in Sanders’ support has come even as the Clinton political machine has called in its countless favors from the Democratic Party establishment and the mainstream media. Hit pieces have rolled in from economists connected to president Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, trying to add credibility to Hillary Clinton’s longtime argument that Bernie Sanders’ proposals of universal health care and tuition-free public higher education for qualified students is economically unfeasible.
The four economists who attempted to smear Bernie Sanders were quickly rebutted, with both pundits and other economists criticizing their lack of economic analysis. The quartet, led by Bill Clinton economist Paul Krugman, were accused of using their renown as influential economists to lend weight to what amounted to a political op-ed. Meanwhile, economists who have actually crunched the numbers have come out in support of Bernie Sanders.
In addition to the quartet of Clintonian economists, Hillary Clinton is also calling in the cavalry when it comes to endorsements and media support, using her money and power to try and boost her clout with voters. When you think about it, it does seem mighty interesting that Bernie Sanders is racking up political endorsements from prominent figures who do not need future campaign funds…while Hillary Clinton’s endorsements seem to come almost exclusively from those who need to keep campaign war chests full. Coincidence? Probably not.
The Democratic Party establishment remains in Clinton’s pocket because she has access and connections to wealthy donors. The mainstream media remains in Clinton’s pocket because she is an extremely newsworthy figure who is known for playing favorites. Bernie Sanders, with his unrivaled reputation for integrity, plays a clean game. He will deal with endorsers and media outlets honestly, meaning that sycophants need not apply. While Clinton may have a boatload of endorsements, most of the endorsers are hoping for favors. When someone endorses Bernie Sanders, you know they really mean it.
Aside from this transparent endorsement game, a far more disturbing sign of Hillary Clinton’s weakness is her fumbling attacks. Apparently worried that her usual bit about Bernie Sanders being “unrealistic” is old hat, Clinton has launched new attacks. At the recent Democratic town hall in Nevada, the former Secretary of State tried to attack Bernie Sanders over his long-held status of being an independent rather than a card-carrying Democrat. The audience booed Clinton when she tried to insist that her former Senate colleague was not a “real” Democrat.
Clinton’s attack on Sanders’ card-carrying status is ironic given her recent insistence that Bernie Sanders is not the arbiter of who was “progressive.” When Hillary Clinton, known for being a centrist Democrat, tried to proclaim that she was a progressive like Sanders, she fought the blowback by insisting that nobody had the right to define who was, or was not, a progressive. Now, however, Clinton herself appears to be trying to define who should be able to run for office as a Democrat. This is a risky moving, considering that Clinton is not a lifetime Democrat: In 1964, as a 17-year-old politico, she volunteered for the presidential campaign of Republican nominee Barry Goldwater, the man who voted against the Civil Rights Act.
Hillary Clinton did not become a liberal until the early 1970s, after the tough fights of the Civil Rights Act had largely been won.
A second attack may also soon come back to haunt the former U.S. Senator (D-NY). After her e-mail server scandal faded a bit, Clinton faced a new quasi-scandal in the form of her lucrative speaking fees to big banks and Wall Street firms. Critics wondered how “progressive” Clinton could possibly be if she was receiving six-figure paychecks for hour-long speeches to America’s modern-day robber barons. When asked to reveal what she said during these speeches, especially the three to Goldman Sachs employees that netted her a cool $675,000, Clinton snapped that she would release her transcripts “when everyone else does.”
Not surprisingly, this “neener-neener” response has not been met with much acclaim. It is widely assumed that the speech transcripts would make Clinton look bad, but her childish response to a reasonable request has made a bad situation even worse. And, to make her outburst even more awkward, Bernie Sanders has accepted Clinton’s challenge and released his own Wall Street speech transcripts. Obviously, there aren’t any!
But, even of the few paid speeches Sanders has given during the course of his lengthy career, the fees were donated to charity and the speeches were open to the public. Clinton’s paid speeches, most of which were private, were frequently used to pad her own pockets. When comparing the respective net worths of the Clintons and the Sanders, it is not difficult to see why Sanders is seen as more empathetic to the middle class.
Everyone should take notice of Hillary Clinton’s floundering campaign. She has largely ceded all proposal arguments to Sanders and is instead waging last-ditch offensives with identity politics. Instead of competing in terms of ideas, proposals, and integrity, Clinton is desperately surrounding herself with powerful endorsers and demanding the loyalties of female and minority voters. This is cheap politics and will certainly not win the general election. Only Bernie Sanders can beat the Republican nominee this fall.