Clinton Had Good Reason To Fear Sanders And Play Games About Debating Him Again

Clinton Chicken

After trying to avoid debating Bernie Sanders with offers such as debating on the night of the finals of the NCAA Tournament, Hillary Clinton has finally agreed to a reasonable time and date. They will debate on CNN on April 14 at 9-11 pm eastern time. This came after an extended periods of games from the Clinton camp. As Wil Wheaton summed it up on Twitter:

It is not surprising that Clinton is afraid to debate Sanders again after her poor showing the last time they met. As Connor Lynch pointed out at Salon, Clinton is sick of the left showing how centrist, as opposed to progressive, she is:

On Thursday, Clinton herself vented about the Sanders campaign at a rally in New York, and when confronted by a Greenpeace activist about her financial ties to the fossil fuel industry, she replied testily: “I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me. I’m sick of it.”

Of course, no one is lying about Clinton, who employs a number of bundlers registered as lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry — as Greenpeace documents here — and in an issued response, Greenpeace Democracy Campaign Director Molly Dorozenski said the following:

“Secretary Clinton is conflating Greenpeace with the Sanders campaign, but we are an independent organization, and our research team has assessed the contributions to all Presidential candidates.  We have not and will not endorse candidates. Earlier this year, we asked both Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders to sign our pledge to #fixdemocracy, and while Sanders signed, Clinton did not. We intend to continue to challenge all candidates to listen to the people, not their biggest donors.”

…Sanders is symbolic of a left-wing resurgence, and he has certainly made Clinton’s life harder with his impressive grassroots campaign. But the left has always been repelled by the Clintons, with or without Bernie. Ever since Bill and Hillary skyrocketed to political stardom in the early ’90s and helped transform American liberalism, those on the left have regarded them both as unprincipled careerists who are willing to say just about anything to get elected. President Clinton’s administration frequently proved this to be the case, and there is little reason to think Hillary Clinton, who has shifted her rhetoric to the left during the primaries, won’t revert back to the center-right when all is said and done.

Clinton is actually lucky that Sanders goes so easy on her, as that will not be the case should she be debating during the general election. For example, with the FBI investigation of Clinton’s email practices entering a new phase, today there is an opinion piece at USA Today on why she should be prosecuted. Realistically, I think there is a very low probability that Clinton will be prosecuted by the Obama DOJ, even though lower level people have been prosecuted or doing less. Sanders is probably right to leave this matter to the FBI and others investigating.

However, Clinton’s mishandling of classified information is only a side issue of the overall matter. I hope that, while campaigning in Wisconsin, Sanders read an editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel which discusses the major issue–Clinton’s long-standing opposition to transparency in government:

Clinton’s abysmal record on open government

Nothing matters more to leadership in a democracy than support for an open, honest government in which citizens are informed and in charge. It is the foundational building block of the republic upon which all else rests. And any candidate vying for the votes of the American people needs to have demonstrated a firm commitment not only to the ideal but to the reality of open government.

As we noted Tuesday, Republican front-runner Donald Trump is not one of those candidates. But neither is Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. Her horrible track record on transparency raises serious concerns for open government under a Clinton administration — so serious we believe they may disqualify her from public office. We hope Wisconsin voters give this issue the consideration it deserves when they go to the polls on Tuesday.

The issue immediately at hand — and under investigation by the FBI — is Clinton’s use of a private email server for State Department communications. Clinton may have violated national security laws by making top secret documents vulnerable to hackers and available to people without proper security clearance. Violating those laws rightly ended the public service career of Gen. David Petraeus when he was President Barack Obama’s CIA director. The FBI and Justice Department must be free to fully investigate and, if warranted, prosecute Clinton in this matter without any political interference from the Obama administration.

In addition, regardless of Clinton’s excuses, the only believable reason for the private server in her basement was to keep her emails out of the public eye by willfully avoiding freedom of information laws. No president, no secretary of state, no public official at any level is above the law. She chose to ignore it, and must face the consequences…

This is hardly the first time Clinton has tried to sidestep the public eye. Last year, Pro Publica noted five such episodes…

Then there are the closed-door speeches to Wall Street financial investment firms, for which she received hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece.

These off-the-record speeches were delivered after Clinton left the State Department and was preparing for her second bid for the White House. Clinton has refused to release transcripts of the speeches, saying she would do so only if other politicians released transcripts of their speeches. But that, as The New York Times noted in a February editorial, is a child’s excuse.

“Voters have every right to know what Mrs. Clinton told these groups…. By refusing to release them all, especially the bank speeches, Mrs. Clinton fuels speculation about why she’s stonewalling,” the Times editorial said.

Sen. Bernie Sanders has used the fees she was paid for the speeches by the most powerful firms on Wall Street against Clinton in their race for the nomination. Of equal concern is the secrecy involved and Clinton’s continuing refusal to release the transcripts of what she told the investment bankers.

Clinton has a long track record of public service but an equally long record of obfuscation, secrecy and working in the shadows to boost her power and further her ambition. We encourage voters to think long and hard about that record when choosing the next president.

Despite his reluctance to talk about the Secretary’s damn email, open government is a topic I could see Sanders talking about.

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1 Comment

  1. 1
    Kathleen Donnafield says:

    I found the interview of Joseph di Genova conducted and aired by C-Span very interesting and informative. di Genova explained at length just why Clinton's having set up a private server in the basement of the Clinton home should be considered criminal conduct. When asked why Clinton was being targeted for setting up a private server when her predecessors had done the same thing, he said; "That is not true. Every other Secretary of State had a .gov account set up through the White House in which all government correspondence was received. No government document was ever diverted to a private server." He went on to say that Rice and Powell both had "sent" emails to the White House and after the investigation of Clinton was opened, stated in retrospect they should not have even done that…and they apologized for having done so. I would encourage anyone interested in watching the video go to YouTube videos on di Genova interview on Clinton emails via C-Span.  

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