It seemed like a headline-grabbing idea: Bernie Sanders debates Donald Trump in a big arena. But as we observed earlier, Bernie is being played by Donald.

From Melissa McEwan:

Donald says that he will debate Bernie, but only if certain conditions are met: That they raise millions of dollars for charity and debate in an arena. That Bernie’s campaign would continue to treat this seriously, after Donald made him look a fool earlier in the day by suggesting the debate idea was a joke, further reinforces the notion that Bernie is being used as a pawn in Donald’s game.

Donald is terrified to face Hillary alone, so he is trying to recruit Bernie for his strategy of using men as a shield from a straightforward confrontation with Hillary. Bernie should never have let himself be drawn into this mess, and he surely shouldn’t continue to indulge the absurd stunts of a cowardly buffoon.

And let’s be really frank about the other reason Bernie agreed to it: This stunt was a response to Hillary saying no.

Bernie wanted a California debate with her, and she didn’t bite. She drew a boundary, and, instead of accepting that boundary, Bernie figured he’d conspire with Donald to try to coerce her into doing what he wants.

I have a real problem with that.

Hillary, a number of people have (erroneously) argued, has somehow transcended the strictures and indignities of systemic gender equality, by virtue of her success. But one cannot shed one’s womanhood at will (even if one wanted to)—and here is a perfect example of how no woman, not even one of the most empowered women in the world, can shed the rules imposed on women.

Frankly, the fact that Hillary has achieved a level of visibility, power, and influence that few women ever have makes me all the more furious that two men are still trying to show, “jokingly” or seriously, they can gang up to push her around at will, that they don’t respect her agency or her right to say no.

The message to women and girls is appalling. No matter how successful you are, men will still try to assert control over you and cajole you into doing their bidding. You are not allowed to say no.


Here is Rachel Maddow on the Bernie vs. Donald debate idea: