In last night’s debate, Hillary Clinton used a line that should become the theme of her primary campaign: “I’m not a single-issue candidate.” (More)
“I am not a single-issue candidate and I do not believe we live in a single-issue country”
I will say that I thought Hillary’s close was a key moment in the debate, perhaps in the campaign. It’s not that she crushed him or anything. But it was the first time I heard her pull together her essential message in a coherent, memorable way. Here’s the key passage …
We agree we’ve got to get unaccountable money out of politics. We agree that Wall Street should never be allowed to wreck main street again. But here’s the point I want to make tonight. I am not a single-issue candidate and I do not believe we live in a single-issue country. I think that a lot of what we have to overcome to break down the barriers that are holding people back, whether it’s poison in the water of the children of Flint or whether it’s the poor miners who are being left out and left behind in coal country, or whether it is any other American today who feels somehow put down and depressed by racism, by sexism, by discrimination against the LGBT community against the kind of efforts that need to be made to root out all of these barriers, that’s what I want to take on.
In a sense, it’s just another recitation of her laundry list of to-dos. But here it’s a coherent critique of Sanders. It’s memorable. Something you can frame a key part of a campaign around. One can buy it or not buy it. But I think Hillary has many potential supporters who’ve been listening to her and found her just sort of scattered and all over the place. I imagine that when Hillary and Bernie supporters argue over their candidates, you’ll have Hillary supporters come back to “She’s not a single issue candidate.” It sums it all up.
“Instead of giving tax breaks to billionaires”
Yes, income and wealth inequality are a big issue. But they’re not the only issue. Bernie Sanders sees structural racism and sexism as income inequality issues. When asked about race relations last night, Sanders instead talked about his pet issue:
Debate moderator Judy Woodruff asked Sanders to clarify whether he thought race relations would be better under a Sanders presidency “than they’ve been.” (Previously, she’d asked Hillary Clinton why she thought race relations would be better if she were President).
“Absolutely,” Sanders responded.
“Because what we will do is say, instead of giving tax breaks to billionaires, we are going to create millions of jobs for low-income kids so they’re not hanging out on street corners,” he explained. “We’re going to make sure that those kids stay in school or are able to get a college education. And I think when you give low-income kids, African-American, white, Latino kids the opportunities to get their lives together, they are not going to end up in jail. They’re going to end up in the productive economy, which is where we want them.”
First, President Obama didn’t give “tax breaks to billionaires,” and it’s both dishonest (as a matter of fact) and politically stupid (in a Democratic primary campaign) to imply otherwise.
Second, as is so often the case, Sanders has no concrete plan “to create millions of jobs for low-income kids.” Better access to quality education will help them compete for existing jobs, but that alone will not create any new jobs.
And third, what Sanders can’t seem to grasp is that income inequality is grounded in sexism and racism. Yes, better education helps … but a high school, college, or graduate diploma brings a much smaller ‘wage premium’ for women or people of color than it does for a white men.
“From my perspective, maybe because I understand what President Obama inherited – not only the worst financial crisis but the antipathy of the Republicans in Congress,” Clinton said. “I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves for being a President who dug us out of that ditch, put us on firm ground and himself sent us into the future.”
For his part, Sanders said it’s a free country and Democrats should be free to criticize a Democratic president. And he can. But 86% of Democrats and 92% of African-Americans approve of President Obama. Criticizing a very popular Democratic president – in a Democratic primary race – seems both arrogant and politically foolish.
In last week’s MSNBC debate, Clinton mentioned Henry Kissinger in passing:
“I was very flattered when Henry Kissinger said I ran the State Department better than anybody had run it in a long time.”
And last night Sanders turned that upside down and inside out:
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has gone after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for having a shallow understanding of foreign policy, but Sanders apparently has his own grievances against one of the people he says Clinton has turned to for foreign policy advice.
“I happen to believe that Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country,” Sanders said at Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate, referring to Clinton citing the former secretary of state’s praise for her work in that same position.
“I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger,” he added.
Here’s the thing: Clinton never said Kissinger was her friend, or that she took advice from him. She simply bragged about having been complimented on efficiently managing a federal department, by someone who once managed that same department. No wonder one of the debate moderators muttered “Oh God.”
Sanders supporters are proud of declaring that he’s held the same positions on every issue since the 1960s. Maybe that’s less about his “authenticity” … and more about the fact that he’s still stuck in the 1960s….
Photo Credit: Joe Raedle (Getty Images)
Good day and good nuts