Certain segments of the media believe they found themselves a “gotcha” moment from the Sanders’ campaign when, during a recent interview, the Vermont Senator admitted to not knowing answers to certain questions with regard issues like the use of drones, and details about how he’d actually go about breaking up the banks. Before addressing the absurdity of those claims, if we could for a moment take a step back and discuss the fact that we’re roughly 7 months away from the National Election and almost a full year before anyone is sworn into office… It’s fair to say that during this portion of the election, America still needs to come to a consensus about the actual issues facing the country. Until we can agree on the problems, we will never be able to have a discussion about the solutions. For instance:
Is Guantanamo Bay a problem? Yes
Is our use of drones problematic? Yes.
Do we need to break up the banks? Yes.
This idea of agreeing on problems before solutions is worth pointing out because it is essentially representative of what is happening to us when it comes to how we discuss issues like climate change. Very few people have practiced reciting a viable solution to global warming. Much like Bernie, this is mainly because we still have to spend a ridiculous amount of time explaining to people that it’s actually problem.
That notwithstanding, Sanders’ performance in the interview was far from “bungled.” Juan Gonzalez, who was at the New York Daily News interview, thought Bernie did handled himself more than adequatley. “I, overall, thought that Bernie Sanders handled the exchange very well,” he said. “I was amazed at his ability to parry the questions that were thrown at him… overall, I thought his performance was excellent.”
While Gonzalez admitted that he thought Sanders had stumbled on a portion of the interview regarding how to break up the banks, Robert Reich, former labor secretary under Clinton, dispelled the others in the media’s gross overreaction in a short Facebook post.
“The criticism is bonkers. Bernie was absolutely correct when he said the President has the authority to break up the big banks under Dodd-Frank. He’s repeatedly specified exactly how he’d use that Dodd-Frank authority to do so. His critics are confusing the Dodd-Frank Act with the Federal Reserve. Whether the Fed has the authority on its own to break up the biggest banks is irrelevant. Clearly, Bernie has the Democratic establishment worried enough to try to twist his words into pretzels.”
Even New York Times columnist Peter Eavis went to bat for Sanders knowledge about how to break up banks. “Taken as a whole, Mr. Sanders’s answers seem to make sense,” he wrote. “Crucially, his answers mostly track with a reasonably straightforward breakup plan that he introduced to Congress last year.”
But let’s look at (some of) the media’s flagrantly troubled reaction to one policy issue on which the NY Daily News pressed Bernie. “Asked if President Obama was right to move the US drone program from the hands of the CIA to the US military, Sanders said, “I don’t know the answer to that.”
It’s ironic that, what the media is trying to portray as weakness, was arguably the best answer possible for a candidate to give when handed a question like this. Is Bernie privy to presidential intelligence reports? No. Should they be factored into his answer? Yes, absolutely. The bigger question worth looking at is, “when did admitting to not having the answers become looked at as a sign of weakness?” Sanders’ supporters love the fact that he is able to say “I don’t know,” instead of spouting off like some half-cocked Trump supporter eagerly rushing in to put his foot in his mouth. He’s not the kind of candidate who would say “I will look into it,” only to hope Americans forget about the issue and move on. If anything, Sanders has earned supreme confidence from his backers for his ability to reach an informed answer. What gives them this confidence? The fact that he’s been right on key issues over and over again throughout his career. Why they want him to be president is because they know he will have the interests of everyday American people in mind when he gets there.