In a stunning show of weakness and petulance, Hillary Clinton has reneged on her agreement of two more debates and has said she will not debate Bernie Sanders until he treats her more nicely. In January, after a months-long back-and-forth about the lack of debates in the primary campaign, Clinton finally agreed to one debate per month through May. On Sunday, the Sanders campaign challenged her to a debate in New York prior to the state's primaries.
Her commitment to more debates has flown out the window, apparently, as she has begun to accuse Sanders of running a negative campaign.
Joel Benenson, Clinton's chief strategist, issued a warning to Sanders via an interview with CNN.
"The real question is, what kind of campaign is Sen. Sanders going to run going forward? Let's see the tone. This is a man who said he'd never run a negative ad, he's now running them, they're planning to run more. Let's see the tone of the campaign he wants to run before we get to any other questions."Benenson added that if Sanders reverts back to his original tone that Clinton would consider more debates.
"Let's see if he goes back to the kind of tone he said he was going to set early on. If he does that, then we'll talk about debates."The issue here is that Bernie Sanders has been more than nice to Clinton. At times, he's been painstakingly deferential to her, especially during the first few debates. His campaign has not turned negative. Negative would imply personal attacks along the lines of the feces-flinging the Republicans are currently engaging in. On the contrary, Sanders is differentiating between himself and Clinton in terms of policy and track record. He's not attacking her. He is discussing the issues. Yet discussing the issues seems to be something that Clinton does not want to do. It's not wrong for Sanders to point out that Clinton has received millions of dollars in donations from Wall Street. Campaign finance reform is one of his main platforms, so it makes sense he would illustrate the differences in how his campaign gets contributions versus hers.
Hillary Clinton has a history of using her gender to her advantage. On the one hand, she claims to be a strong, independent feminist, able to take on men in power. On the other hand, she is quite willing to play the damsel in distress if someone calls her out on her questionable behavior or actions.
Because of this, she actually sets the feminist movement back. She claims the criticism lobbed at her is due to sexism. She advances the idea that women who criticize other women's ideas or behavior is traitorous. It's a show of contempt toward other women who dare question her past actions and words, and that in itself is dangerous.Another point is that Clinton's claim that Bernie Sanders is now running a negative campaign is a not-so-subtle implication that he's a liar in order to avoid having to debate him in New York. Because there is very little, if any, scandal to dig up on Sanders, Clinton is attempting, yet again, to manufacture one by implying he is a sexist and a liar.
But all that is no excuse for not having another debate. The fact is, Clinton is simply using Sanders' increased assertiveness to avoid another debate. Her refusal is a clear sign of weakness. If she is not willing to debate someone who is not afraid of putting her actions and policies to the rope, she is not fit to be president.
Her fabricated damsel in distress act is a far cry from the time she described how a person running for president should behave during her 2008 primary race against Barack Obama.
"You should be willing to debate anywhere, anytime."The video of her saying this also includes a comment about why she was really staying in the race. During that interview, she inadvertently let slip that she was continuing the race until the convention in June because in 1968, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. She may not have consciously hoped Obama would be assassinated, but a large number of people interpreted it that way. That wasn't the only time she made ethos comment, either. She referenced Bobby Kennedy's assassination on several occasions as justification for her staying in the race in 2008.
In many ways, Clinton has attempted to play the sexism card ever since her fateful debate with Rick Lazio during her run for Senate in 2000. Lazio interrupted her mid-sentence, left his podium, and handed her a campaign finance pledge. He then wagged his finger while lecturing her in a very dominant manner. That debate was the moment he lost the race, and he deserved to lose. Since then, she has played up any male actions against her as sexism, and in 2008 it backfired when Barack Obama won. This year, again, voters aren't having it, but Clinton seems unaware that the public has become immune to her cries of sexism. She's become the political embodiment of the boy who cried wolf.It's odd that Clinton would refuse to debate Sanders in what she now considers her state, especially ahead of the New York primary. Why is she stalling? Her umbrage with Bernie Sanders' insistence on running on the issues reeks of desperation and pettiness, and it's time to leave the gender politics by the wayside and agree to debate Sanders in New York.[Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images]