One of Seattle’s weekly publications has a regular column that lists some “news” item from each day the previous week, and it seems that whoever compiles it has a preference for gender “victim” stories. If facts are lacking or in question, “opinion” will always suffice. Last week, Vermont’s independent Sen. Bernie Sanders was the subject of a rare “positive”—sort of—characterization—of a male. That is to say, when he was given the opportunity on CNN, he didn’t say anything “bad”—meaning “sexist”—about Hillary Clinton, even though he will eventually have to say something opposed to her cliché-ridden sound bites if he expects to win the Democratic presidential nomination. This refusal to engage in the “sexist” politics of daring to criticize Clinton was deemed as laudatory by the weekly. Sen. Sanders might even get the writer’s vote—if Hillary doesn’t “need it.”
Reverse-sexism, anyone? Or as Obi-Wan Kenobi said: "Who is the more foolish? The fool or the fool who follows him"--or her?
Sen. Sanders should “excite” the liberal base far more than Clinton; when I was listening to Thom Hartmann’s radio show (before it was replaced by yet another sports talk station), Sanders would come on every Friday and elucidate the issues of the day in a common sense, factual way, in a way you never hear politicians do. While Sanders typically votes with the Democrats, he is largely ignored by the leadership; nevertheless, since he doesn’t answer to anyone but his constituency, he is free to talk truth, and the fact that he has been repeatedly re-elected shows that his constituency finds his non-nonsense discourse refreshing. Unlike Clinton, Sanders actually has qualities that she is decidedly lacking in: Credibility, integrity and the courage of his convictions.
The conventional “wisdom” would say that Sanders has no chance even if nominated; he just too “liberal.” While the right stupidly accuses the president of being a “socialist” and a “communist,” one wonders how they would characterize the senator’s positions. But I think that Sen. Sanders could pose a real danger to Clinton if his cogent elucidation of the issues and how to fix the nation’s problems are permitted to be heard in contrast to Clinton’s banalities, however “forcefully” spoken. In a general election, it is very well possible that “independent” voters would see in Sanders a true kindred spirit.
Unfortunately for Sanders, he has only a miniscule fraction of the campaign cash the Clinton machine has been extorting from people who feel they “owe” her something for their support of Obama, even groups for whom the only qualification that Clinton offers their progressive agenda is that she is a woman, and because she is, she is “entitled” to their support.
Still, that some Clinton promoters in the media consider Sanders a threat to her in the primaries was demonstrated recently on CNN’s State of the Union, where Sanders appearing to answer “tough” questions for daring to challenge the Clinton News Network’s chosen one. After Sanders made an effort to define and offer solutions to address growing income inequality in this country, CNN’s White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar, attempted to suggested that Sen. Sanders would be “forced” into an implied “sexist” personal attack on Clinton in order to make any “headway” against her.:
KEILAR: I just wonder is this going to be a civil debate with Hillary Clinton? Even if you're talking about issues and not personality or the fact that she's establishment, you have to go after a leading candidate with a hard edge. Are you prepared to do that?
This of course assumes that by the time of the first primaries that Clinton actually will be the prohibitive frontrunner; one may recall that this time eight years ago she occupied a similar position, mainly because the media wasn’t even talking about an alternative. Sanders, however, refused to take the bait:
SANDERS: Well, Brianna, let me turn it around to you, OK. I've never run a negative political ad in my life. People in Vermont know that I run in many, many campaigns. I don't believe in ugly 30-second ads. I believe in serious debates on serious issues. I've known Hillary Clinton for 25 years. Maybe I shouldn't say this. I like Hillary Clinton. I respect Hillary Clinton. Will the media, among others, allow us to have a civil debate on civil issues? Or is the only way to get media attention by ripping apart someone else? I certainly hope that’s not the case.
Keilar, flummoxed that Sanders had the audacity to question the media’s interest (or lack thereof) in issues of public concern, and accusing said media of being more interested in manufactured “scandals,” continued to channel Jerry Springer’s sewer-dredging:
KEILAR: Overall, I don't hear a lot of forcefulness from you; a lot of people who observe politics say this is a contact sport. You have to have sharp elbows. Even if it's not going fully negative in character assassination and there may be somewhere in between - are you -
Yes, there you have it. Here is a confession that the media is not interested in the issues, but food fights and mud wrestling between parties and candidates—especially if it gives media feminists red meat to make accusations of “sexism.” Sanders, himself by now exasperated by the direction of the “interview,” responded to Keilar’s lack of knowledge of his long time positions on issues:
SANDERS: - Brianna, Brianna, you are looking at the most progressive member of the United States Senate. I have led the effort in taking on Wall Street. I have led the effort in taking on disastrous trade agreements. I have led the effort in fighting for universal health care. I have led the effort in terms of trying to reverse our approach toward climate change and move away from a fossil fuel society. I've led the effort on many of those issues. I've taken on every powerful special -
Keilar, not interested in having her ignorance of his positions exposed, interrupted him with a demand to know if he intended to “sharply point out” where his Democratic opponents have failed—meaning if he was going to go on “attack” mode, which of course means against Clinton. Again, Sanders saw right through the mendacious smokescreen, accusing CNN and the rest of the media’s utter failure to expose how Republican policy positions only serve the rich and harm the middle class and poor:
SANDERS: Of course I am prepared to engage in serious debate. But let me throw it back to you. I'll tell you something else. The American people want to hear serious discussions on why they're working longer hours for low wages. They want to know about why year after year we have these disastrous trade agreements, why the rich get richer and everybody else gets poorer. Are you in the media prepared to allow us to engage in that serious debate? Or do I have to get media attention by simply making reckless attacks on Hillary Clinton or anybody else? I don't believe in that. I believe in serious debates on serious issues.
Rather than discuss the “state of union,” Keilar only sought to paint Sanders as at best a dangerous “spoiler” to Clinton’s quest for the presidency, and at worst a male candidate out to deprive Clinton of what is rightfully “hers.” Reading between the lines, what is being implied here is that any discussion of the issues must necessarily be a personal attack on Clinton, since it would expose the vacuity of her policy positions. After all, when Clinton was on the ropes in 2008, did she fall back on her “superior” policy ideas? No, because they didn’t exist; instead, she resorted to racist code words and bizarre statements about assassinations.
Of course, what is implied in all of this is that anyone who poses a “threat” to Clinton can only do so by making attacks that are automatically assumed to be “sexist” in nature. That is what our society has become. You cannot have a civil discussion with the female candidate without her or the media accusing you of being misogynist for having the audacity of forcing a logical or specific answer out of her. It is “ungentlemanly” to force a woman to play by the rules of give-and-take, even if she is running for the highest office in the land. CNN, of course, is perfectly happy to run with her clichés and sound bites, and forget about what people need to hear from her.