As an avowed Hillary advocate, I was encouraged by the first portion of Bernie’s South Carolina concession speech. He focused on issues that matter deeply to progressives. He stayed away from implicit character attacks against Hillary. And he went after the GOP.
Bernie does best when he’s focused on raising awareness about critical issues, from income inequality to campaign finance reform. It is the right thing to do for Democrats and for America.
Alas, he couldn’t maintain the uplifting tone and by the second half of the speech, Bernie resorted to his “release the transcripts” attack against Hillary. In essence, he’s accusing Hillary of corruption — without an iota of evidence.
As we wrote recently, Hillary confronted Bernie on his continued insinuation that she is somehow tainted by financial industry contributions:
I would just say, I debated then Senator Obama numerous times on stages like this, and he was the recipient of the largest number of Wall Street donations of anybody running on the Democratic side ever. Now, when it mattered, he stood up and took on Wall Street. He pushed through, and he passed the Dodd-Frank regulation, the toughest regulations since the 1930’s. So, let’s not in anyway imply here that either President Obama or myself, would in anyway not take on any vested interested, whether it’s Wall Street, or drug companies, or insurance companies, or frankly, the gun lobby to stand up to do what’s best for the American people.
Hillary is absolutely right. Does Bernie think President Obama is compromised by Wall Street contributions? If so, he should have the courage to say it. If not, he shouldn’t imply that a female candidate would be influenced by donations or speaking fees. There’s a word for that.
The endless drumbeat that Hillary is dishonest is now driven directly from the top of Bernie’s campaign. It is an “artful smear” where any mention of the “establishment” or Wall Street is a Pavlovian trigger designed to impugn Hillary’s character. The Wall Street Dog Whistle.
No matter how lofty and inspiring Bernie’s message, no matter how much he motivates younger voters, it is deeply unjust – and frankly, reckless – to run a campaign premised on the destruction of Hillary’s character through false innuendo.
Getting trounced in South Carolina should have sent a signal to Bernie that it’s time to stop tearing her down. He didn’t get the message.