Former Clinton adviser Bill Curry predicted in June that Bernie Sanders would beat Hillary Clinton. We do not know yet if his prediction will come true, but Sanders has definitely beaten expectations. In response, Hillary Clinton did exactly what would be predicted–launch a dishonest smear campaign. Curry now writes that The Clintons really don’t get it: False attacks and failed strategies as Hillary repeats 2008.
How Clinton lost is as telling as the historic margin she lost by. Just as in 2008, she presented as a hawk to a party bone-weary of war. Now as then, her high-dollar, tone-deaf, leak-prone campaign telegraphed every punch. Her backers harp on her experience — but experience only counts if you learn from it. Eight years later, Clinton makes the exact same mistakes. Still, party elites have bet the farm she’ll have it all sorted out by October. Dangerous wager.
She isn’t learning from this race, either. Her response to New Hampshire has been to double-down on her strategy. How such a bright person could be such a slow learner is a mystery. Her worst moments prior to New Hampshire were her ham-handed attempts to take down Sanders. Chelsea distorted his healthcare plans, Bill ripped his character. Hillary accused him of an “artful smear” for suggesting, obviously, that banks give to super PACs to influence policy. She voiced “concern” over reports he’d mingled with real live lobbyists at Democratic fundraisers. But to many voters the Clintons attacking Sanders’ integrity was like draft-avoider George W. Bush swift-boating Purple Heart-winner John Kerry — except this time it backfired, and her whole family took the hit.
At this point she might have decided to curtail the personal attacks, but alas, no. In a public television debate two days after the primary, she waited till the last second to launch an attack, this time on Sanders’ alleged disloyalty to Obama. It seems this will be a principal theme going forward, so in case you missed, a sample:
“Today Senator Sanders said President Obama failed the presidential leadership test…. he has called him weak. He has called him a disappointment. He wrote a forward for a book that basically argued voters should have buyers’ remorse when it comes to President Obama’s leadership and legacy it is the kind of criticism I expect from Republicans. Calling the president weak… [Saying] several times he should have a primary opponent when he ran for re-election…”
Much of this is flat-out false; all is shorn of context and rife with what Politifact called “half-truths.” Bill Press wrote a book criticizing Obama, but Sanders didn’t write the foreword (just a blurb that doesn’t criticize Obama). He never called Obama weak or a disappointment, though he once said Obama showed weakness in budget negotiations. Talking to a radio host who wanted Obama primaried, Sanders said open debate was a good thing. But notice in the above quote how Clinton, the Mary Lou Retton of syntax, made it seem Sanders said all these things.
When Clinton at last holstered her weapon, moderators Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill, who’d done yeoman’s work to that point, said there wasn’t time for Sanders to answer her final fusillade, but that he could do so in his closing remarks. Off balance for the first time all night, he split the difference, which made for a weak finish to an otherwise strong performance. Too bad; he deserved a chance at a full rebuttal even if it meant shaving a minute or two off “Antiques Roadshow.”
Clinton’s playing an explosive game, especially since she herself spent much of 2015 sniping at Obama. When Obama described his foreign policy as “Don’t do stupid stuff,” she ridiculed him. When he wouldn’t violate international law by declaring a no-fly zone in Syria, she broke with him. She talks a lot about being commander in chief. She must know it’s hard to be one when your old secretary of state is taking shots at you. Ironically enough, on foreign policy Sanders has been more loyal to Obama than Clinton, but the irony doesn’t end there.
As Hillary laced into Sanders, Bill was miles away lacing into Obama. In a listless swipe at the banking system, he said, “Yeah, it’s rigged, because you don’t have a president who’s a change maker.” It’s what Hillary accuses Bernie of saying. (Note too, the tacit admission that Bernie’s right on Dodd Frank.) All in all, Hillary looks cunning, not loyal. Because integrity is for her what intelligence was for Dan Quayle, she can ill afford to appear hypocritical or be caught doctoring the truth.
Clinton’s ad hominem attacks — call it the politics of personal destruction — poison the air around her. Just before New Hampshire, deservedly beloved feminist icon Gloria Steinem told Bill Maher that young women join Sanders’ campaign to meet guys. Steinem got taken to the Internet woodshed for making a lighthearted, self-deprecating joke, on a comedy show, no less, but only because the tone of Clinton’s campaign is so rancid. Clinton must see how her scorched-earth policy hurts her family, her friends and her campaign, but for her there’s never any turning back.
I had also debunked several of Clinton’s dishonest attacks at the last debate here.
Curry proceeded to discuss other unsavory aspects of the campaign, later discussing the Black Caucus PAC endorsement and actions of the DNC to improve Clinton’s chances of winning:
The real problem with the Black Caucus PAC endorsement isn’t anything Lewis said, but the way Washington works. Only seven of 46 caucus members voted on the caucus endorsement but 11 lobbyists voted, including at least two tobacco and two healthcare industry lobbyists. Like the Iowa Democratic Party, the PAC won’t reveal the tally — but we know at least two of the seven actual members voted no.
On Friday we learned that DNC chairwoman and Clinton lifer Debbie Wasserman Schultz ended Obama’s ban on federal contractors donating to the party. (So much for loyalty to Obama.) On Wednesday we learned Clinton will get a majority of New Hampshire delegates despite losing in a landslide. Schultz told CNN the reason 700 unelected superdelegates get to vote at the convention is to spare grass-roots activists the burden of having to primary them. No matter how much money Schultz wrings from contractors or how many superdelegates Clinton piles up in states Sanders wins, it won’t equal the price they pay for such cynicism.
He discussed Bill Clinton’s Neoliberal views which he states are “killing the middle class.” He concluded:
When Clinton isn’t calling Sanders a traitor, she says she shares his goals. But she doesn’t. Clinton was part of the neoliberal revolt that destroyed the Roosevelt coalition and she is as we’ve seen, a woman of markedly fixed views. She may be Obama’s heir, but Sanders is FDR’s. She campaigns as she does out of habit, and to hide the very real choice. The neoliberal experiment is over. Democrats, proud heirs to Franklin Roosevelt, are ready to come home.
In 2008 several prominent Democrats, including Ted Kennedy, cited false attacks from Clinton in their endorsement of Obama over Hillary Clinton. Hopefully more Democrats will see through Clinton’s dishonest campaign this year, especially as there is the danger that, if elected, she would govern with the same disregard for the truth. After all, what could go wrong electing someone who is both a pathological liar and a war monger?
Updates in Related Posts about Clinton’s Lying:
Clinton’s Latest Deceitful Statement: “I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me.” Includes multiple lies from Clinton during the campaign.
What’s Wrong With Hillary? One Big Problem Is All Her Lying
Democratic Strategists Finally Realizing There Is Danger In Nominating A Candidate Who Is Disliked and Distrusted Like Clinton