'Divorce Court' or Dem debate?
You got to love it when politicians take off their fake masks of civility and unabashedly go at each other with the full force of their antipathies and deep ideological divisions in display.
That’s what happened Thursday — four days before the high stake New York primaries — at the Democratic debate, and that’s what made it so great. With Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders at times yelling at each other as if they were in Divorce Court, the two presidential wannabes did not mince words.
What was most impressive was the fact that this debate should have dispelled any lingering doubts about Sanders’ sincerity and how different a politician he really is. Just take a look at the sharp exchange about Israel, an untouchable topic that usually elicits unquestioning support for the Israeli government’s policies. In what must have been be a first in New York City politics, Sanders, with total honesty, said yes when asked by the moderator if he stood by his comment that Israel’s response to attacks in the 2014 Gaza war had been “disproportionate.”
“There comes a time when you have to say that Netanyahu isn’t right all of the time,” he told Clinton, a statement that must have sounded like pure heresy to the Democratic Party establishment. Clinton, on the other hand, stuck to the party line.
“I love being in Brooklyn,” Clinton had said at the beginning of the debate with a smile as fake as a counterfeit coin. From then on, her repeated attempts to, as it were, hide during the debate behind Obama’s rising popularity, made me want to remind her that she was the one running, not the President. Just an example:
“This is not just an attack on me, it’s an attack on President Obama,” she said responding to Sanders’ questioned her candidacy being supported by a super PAC. Obama also had one, she said, but, according to her, he never served the interests of his moneyed donors.
Sanders did not buy it.
"Does Secretary Clinton have the experience and intelligence to be president? Of course she does. But I do question her judgment," Sanders said, listing some of Clinton’s worst actions like her vote for the Iraq war, her support of some free-trade deals and taking $675,000 for a speech from Goldman Sachs. But, Sanders added, “Do we really feel confident about a candidate who says she will bring change in America when she is so dependent on big money interests? I don’t think so.”
Neither do a huge number of votes that, against all odds, have made it possible for the improbable candidacy of the aging, socialist Sanders to give Clinton, the party machine favorite, a run for her money.
Consistently, many in the media and in political circles paint Sanders as a dreamer, as if this would diminish his stature. Well, I have news for you: It is not working. Hundreds of thousands of voters want Sanders to keep dreaming big dreams of “a moral economy” and “a return to fairness,” as he told a group of supporters outside of the Vatican, where he was last Friday.
Win or lose the nomination, Sanders has elevated the tone of the political debate and raised people’s expectations. And that’s something to be grateful for.