Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have lost their friendly tone in New York’s Brooklyn Democratic debate. Tensions have been tight between the two since Clinton questioned Bernie’s qualifications, citing his inexperience, unrealistic ideals, and the absence of a specific strategy for some of his goals. She later got irate when Sanders questioned her qualifications in return. Sanders cited her judgment in several past specific situations as the reason he questioned what sort of president she would make.
The Brooklyn Democratic debate last night, as reported and transcribed by the Washington Post, was far more vicious in tone than anything we have heard from either candidate before. Bernie Sanders responded carefully when asked if Hillary had the qualifications to be president. He paused for applause and other audience reactions so that he could be heard clearly.
“Of course, she does. But I do question her judgment. I question a judgment which voted for the war in Iraq. The worst foreign policy blunder in the history of this country, voted for virtually every disastrous trade agreement which cost us millions of decent-paying jobs.”
Bernie Sanders point was made, gaining cheers, but the response to these statements made the audience roar. It was obvious that the only qualifications Clinton thought were important were the roles she had held. Decisions made while in those offices were apparently a different matter, not related to qualifications. When she stopped listing her qualifications as an elected Senator and Secretary of State, she eventually addressed the issues and accusations about her judgment.
“Well, make — make no mistake about it, this is not just an attack on me, it’s an attack on President Obama. President Obama…”
The Brooklyn Democratic Debate audience booed her so loudly that she stopped for quite a few moments.
“You know, let me tell you why. You may not like the answer, but I’ll tell you why. President Obama had a super PAC when he ran. President Obama took tens of millions of dollars from contributors. And President Obama was not at all influenced when he made the decision to pass and sign Dodd-Frank, the toughest regulations…”
Hillary Clinton not only placed blame on one of her greatest allies, she ignored the key issues, namely the war and the trade agreements. The American people felt the brunt of these decisions. The Senators have excuses, believing misinformation about weapons of mass destruction and counting on President G.W. Bush not to act unless provoked to the point of emergency, but the results were devastating. The Senate gave permission to attack Iraq if the president saw fit. For those who remember, the vote came because Senators wanted to go home for a break and signed the bill so that the president could take action if necessary.
As Bernie Sanders and his supporters have pointed out, Hillary Clinton was in favor of TPP and supported it as she has most of the other trade agreements until this campaign. Trade agreements have been blamed for the recession, which has disenfranchised a large percentage of American people. For many Americans, this is a hot button issue. The people backing both Sanders and Trump feel this deeply in an election that is starting to look like an uprising, with huge gatherings, marches, and, in Trump’s case, fistfights and occasional riots. Abolishing these trade agreements is a hot issue, one that Bernie champions.
“And I question her judgment about running super PACs which are collecting tens of millions of dollars from special interests, including $15 million from Wall Street. I don’t believe that that is the kind of judgment we need to be the kind of president we need.”
Bernie Sanders took the offensive, driving home his point that many of Hillary Clinton’s legislative decisions have resulted in consequences she had not calculated correctly. Many of the bills she voted for had disastrous consequences, although they were popular at the time. He also made the point that she sometimes misstated her previous views. Examining her record seemed to show a flip-flop on key issues. He forced her to admit at least a few of these.
Bernie Sanders kept Hillary Clinton on the defensive throughout the Brooklyn Democratic debate. He repeatedly challenged her policies as half measures. For example, Clinton stated that she had always supported the $15 an hour minimum wage, and Bernie took issue with that, with a “since when” sort of response. This forced Hillary to admit that she had supported a $12 minimum wage because $15 was too much to expect. She only admitted this after insisting she had always supported a $15 minimum wage.
“I have taken my cue from the Democrats in the Senate, led by Senator Patty Murray and others, like my good friend Kirsten Gillibrand, who has said we will set a national level of $12 and then urge any place that can go above it to go above it.”
Bernie Sanders went after Hillary again in the Brooklyn Democratic debate for supporting the crime bill that ended up landing a record number of people in jail, mostly for small, nonviolent offenses. She was forced to admit that the results of the crime bill were not what she had hoped for.
“Well, look, I supported the crime bill. My husband has apologized. He was the president who actually signed it, Senator Sanders… I voted for it. I’m sorry for the consequences that were unintended and that have had a very unfortunate impact on people’s lives.”
Bernie Sanders went after Hillary Clinton again and again as the Brooklyn Democratic debate continued. Clinton was left to defend her record on the issues. Hillary asserted she was tough on the big banks. Sanders did not believe she was tough enough.
“Secretary Clinton called them out. Oh my goodness, they must have been really crushed by this. And was that before or after you received huge sums of money by giving speaking engagements? So they must have been very, very upset by what you did. Look, here is the difference and here is the clear difference. These banks, in my view, have too much power. They have shown themselves to be fraudulent organizations endangering the well-being of our economy. If elected president, I will break them up. We have got legislation to do that, end of discussion.”
Bernie Sanders attacked Clinton on the basis that she voted for trade agreements that have negatively impacted the majority of American people.
“We cannot continue to sustain the loss of millions of decent-paying jobs that we have seen over the last 20, 30 years, based on trade agreements of which Secretary Clinton has voted for almost every one of those. That has got to change.”
Hillary Clinton made a defense, but it was not what Bernie and Trump supporters, which together would make up at least half of voters, want to hear at this time. She suggested the government continues to work with businesses, but isn’t that what so many people are protesting about?
“I have seen the results of what can happen when we have the government cooperating with business. And that’s exactly what I will do.”
Bernie Sanders made his point halfway through the Brooklyn Democratic debate, or rather he got Hillary to state it for him. There is a clear difference between Hillary and Bernie. Sanders wants to be tough on businesses that have exported our jobs, avoided taxes, and exploited labor both in this country and all over the world. He wants to take a firm stand against trade agreements that hurt Americans and others throughout the world while only benefiting the largest corporations. Hillary, on the other hand, wants to work with businesses and accept whatever concessions they may be willing to give.
Bernie Sanders doesn’t plan on taking no for an answer, but Hillary Clinton plans to continue cooperating with them.
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Image]