One of the most disappointing aspects of the 2016 election is Bernie’s sharp detour from a positive, uplifting movement to an all-out attack on Hillary’s integrity. His Wall Street dog whistle has been one of the most pointed negative frames ever directed at her. It is an evidence-free campaign of innuendo and insinuation designed to undermine her credibility and tarnish her public image.
In that context, Bernie’s appearance on CBS’s Face The Nation betrays either denial or willful deception. He was asked whether he would continue to do or say things that could damage Hillary’s general election prospects and his response was telling:
Nothing that I will say will compare in any way to what the Republicans will say.
First, does that mean he’ll do negative things but just not as bad as the GOP?
Second, Republicans, who have gone after Hillary for several decades, have been less effective than Bernie in “artfully smearing” her.
Just a few days ago, the Sanders campaign tweeted about Hillary raising money from super PACs and Wall Street. Knowing that Hillary has millions more votes and appears to be on track to win the Democratic nomination, how does a tweet like that help Democrats or solve problems for working Americans?
It is simply another instance of the Wall Street dog whistle, aimed to further paint Hillary as corrupt — with no hard evidence to back up the accusation.
As we’ve argued repeatedly, Bernie’s values are our values, his issues are our issues. Aside from the attacks on Hillary’s character, he has brought great value to the 2016 election. But the character attacks from his campaign aides and surrogates have been deplorable, and in many ways have damaged Bernie’s brand more than they’ve harmed Hillary.
Running a campaign straight through Hillary’s integrity doesn’t help Democrats, it hurts them. Lest any Bernie supporter question our premise, they should first explain this:
In a story in Sunday’s New York Times, Bernie Sanders’ top adviser, Tad Devine, took a very nasty shot at Hillary Clinton: “She cannot be trusted to appoint someone to the Supreme Court who will take the issue of campaign finance seriously,” he said.
Democrats just don’t do that to other Democrats. Certainly not when there’s a major opening on the highest court that could change the balance of American politics.
If Bernie really doesn’t want to do to Hillary what Republicans intend to do, then he should stop surfing a wave of hate for one of the most admired and respected women on the planet and he should throw away that over-used Wall Street dog whistle.
(AP Photo/John Minchillo)