Clinton’s Smoke & Fog

The mainstream media insists that the Democratic debates are wonkfests, dominated by hard-nosed, clear-eyed, policy debates.

If you watched last night’s contest let me ask you: while Clinton or Sanders railed against the “big banks” and “Wall Street” did they actually tell us how they would pay for their plans? Did they lay out why higher taxes and more regulation would help create jobs and boost income for middle class Americans? I did not hear it.

How, for that matter will they succeed where Obama has not in regards to guns, campaign finance reform, Wall Street regulation, etc.? A truly substantive debate would explore how candidates who share the President’s vision will be better able to realize it. Didn’t happen. (My two cents: Sanders would be much more likely to create a worker’s paradise because his election would signal a commitment to change that Clinton’s would not; that’s why he scares me more than her.

After the debate, CNN commentators were praising Clinton to the skies. But did she clarify the picture through her mastery of detail, or created fog and smoke that distorted and smeared Sanders’s record? The exchanges on health care were telling.

First she claimed that she was committed to universal health care. Then she attacked Bernie Sanders for supporting universal health care.

The difference seemed to be that he wants to do it all once and she plans on doing it incrementally. OK. But how do you that? She didn’t say.

More to the point, he is very clear in his desire for a single payer system. She seems to suggest that she would keep the employer-based system in place, expanding coverage beyond the ACA for those who fall outside that system. In a thoughtful debate someone would ask about the relative merits of each approach.

No one asked. So that voters who are not health care experts have almost no basis for distinguishing between their approaches.

Instead, Clinton doubled-down on a claim she knows is misleading: that Sanders will raise taxes to pay for universal health care. He responded that, according to his numbers, the savings most people would enjoy from not paying premiums and high deductibles would more than offset the tax increase. What should we make of a candidate that would insistently misrepresent a well-established Democrat talking point to gain Democrat votes?

Clinton then claimed that she rejects Sanders’ ambitious approach because it would never get through a GOP congress. OK. But then how is she going to accomplish any of her more left-wing proposals. Does she plan on ruling by executive action?

No one asked.

As she repeatedly claimed she wouldn’t play politics, she sought to appeal to African-American voters by suggesting time and again that Sanders opposes President Obama and is determined to undo the Affordable Care Act. This is so dishonest, it would take my breath away if it hadn’t been said by Clinton.

The narrative of Obama’s last two years is that he is doing what he always intended to – which means actions much farther to the left. Who is closer to Obama’s true spirit: Clinton or Sanders?



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