Sanders said Sunday that he “worked as hard as humanly possible” once Clinton was the Democratic nominee. Let’s do a little fact-check on that claim…
Reported by Annie Grayer, in CNN Politics, Sunday December 8, 2019 :
Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday denied an accusation made by Hillary Clinton last week that the Vermont senator’s delayed endorsement in 2016 hurt her Democratic presidential candidacy, saying that he did everything he could to get the former secretary of state elected president.
“I’m sorry that Hillary Clinton is rerunning 2016,” Sanders said in an interview with Iowa Press that aired Sunday…
Sanders’ rebuttal comes after Clinton talked to Howard Stern Wednesday in a radio interview in which she spoke to questions of whether the Democratic Party did enough to come together during the last presidential election cycle.
… Clinton did not hesitate to point out that she believed Sanders’ delayed endorsement hurt her campaign. “He hurt me there’s no doubt about it, and I hope he doesn’t do it again to whoever gets the nomination. Once is enough,” Clinton said.
Sanders said Sunday that he “worked as hard as humanly possible” once Clinton was the Democratic nominee.
The following is an excerpt from my 2017 book, written shortly after the election. Why reprint it now? Am I just “rerunning 2016,” as Sanders claims? Although I believe we have yet to fully confront what happened in 2016, the following is not a “rerun.” It’s a warning — because there’s no reason to believe something like this won’t be repeated. And as Hillary has said, “once is enough.”
….As her primary victory became inevitable, Sanders seemed to abandon any scruples he may have had. An interview with George Stephanopoulos on May 23, 2016, contained this exchange:
Sanders: “We need a campaign — an election — coming up which does not have two candidates who are really very, very strongly disliked. I don’t wanna see the American people voting for the lesser of two evils. I want the American people to be voting for a vision of economic justice, of environmental justice, of racial justice. That is the campaign we are running, and that’s why we are getting the support we are.”
Stephanapolous: “Is that how you would describe Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump — as the lesser of two evils”?
Sanders: “Well if you look — No, I wouldn’t describe it, but that’s what the American people are saying.”
It was very Trump-like of Sanders to get his digs in by referring to “what people are saying.” But, like Trump, he got the message through loud and clear. A month earlier, in April, Hillary had held between 71 and 82 percent of Sanders’s supporters; by the beginning of June that number was between 55 and 72 percent. He made no attempt to correct “Bernie or Busters” when they said things like: “If we don’t get Bernie, we’re not just going to automatically vote for the demon.” Nor did he dispute Susan Sarandon when she described Hillary Clinton as “more dangerous” than Donald Trump.
No, Sanders never said to “lock her up.” But as the primary election made way for the general, he made no attempt to disentangle Hillary Clinton from the DNC “rigging” his surrogates and campaign manager constantly complained about — a “myth,” according to Kurt Eichenwald, that vastly overestimated the power of the DNC and portrayed the party as a “monolith that orchestrated the nomination of Hillary Clinton against the will of ‘the people.’”
First, it was the number of debates, presented as a conspiracy against Sanders. In fact, the number initially proposed — six — was exactly the same number proposed in 2012.
Then it was the primaries that were closed to independents — surely not inappropriate considering they were Democratic primaries, and conveniently ignoring the huge boost Sanders got from caucuses, which favored young, healthy, economically privileged students who could spend hours hanging out at them without having to worry about child care or money lost from time off from work.
And fInally, it was the Russian hack of DNC emails that “‘proved’ the organization had its thumb on the scale for Clinton.” As Eichenwald points out, those emails were almost all from May 2016, at which point Sanders had no hope of winning the nomination, except through a massive “flip” of super delegates — a rather odd strategy for someone running a campaign in the name of “the people.”
And all the while he was still hammering away at Clinton, invoking the words “Goldman” and “Sachs” as often as possible, and delivering crowd-pleasing sarcasm about Clinton’s unreleased transcripts of her speeches. Ignoring that the fees, outrageous as they are, are standard (if not on the low side) for famous folk, he used the line, over and over: “It must be a fantastic speech, a brilliant speech which you would want to share with the American people. It must be Shakespearean!”
As to the DNC emails, as Sanders himself later admitted, we surely would have found emails just as nasty, if not worse, had Sanders’s campaign been hacked as well. Actually, you could find much, much worse on virtually any Sanders support page on Facebook.
Did Sanders have every right to continue his campaign? Yes. Did he do serious damage to Clinton’s chances of winning over Trump every time “devil” and “demon” were used to describe her and he offered no protest, every time he portrayed her as the harlot of Wall Street whose impending victory was stolen from “the people” by a “corrupt” DNC? Again, yes. Undoubtedly yes.
As the Democratic National Convention approached, “Bernie or Busters” began to organize protests. The first night of the convention was disrupted by anti-Hillary hecklers in Bernie shirts handing out posters that said “War Hawk” and “Goldman Girl” and “Monsanto Mama” on them. “You can’t expose the corruption of the political system and then expect us to get behind the same political system,” said one of the organizers, in a CNN piece in early June. “If Bernie Sanders does not walk out of that thing as the nominee, we can guarantee you from that point on we’ll start the de-registration of the Democratic Party.”
Reading these comments, I couldn’t help but think back to 2008, and my own very different reaction to Obama’s primary win. I had been a strong Hillary supporter, and also a bit suspicious of Obama, who initially seemed too young and too slick to me. But he had impressed me enormously with his “race speech,” and although the primary with Hillary had gotten nasty at times, neither he nor she had ever led me to believe that the other was the “enemy.” As a Democrat, my overriding concern was the general election and defeating the GOP. Hillary was my choice, but I never considered not getting behind Obama with everything I had to give, and I’ve never regretted it.
In 2008, Clinton had helped her supporters get there, too. Like Bernie, she ran until the bitter end. But four days after the voting ended, she got out of the race and endorsed Obama passionately:
“The way to continue our fight now, to accomplish the goals for which we stand, is to take our energy, our passion, our strength, and do all we can to help elect Barack Obama, the next president of the United States. Today, as I suspend my campaign, I congratulate him on the victory he has won and the extraordinary race he has run. I endorse him and throw my full support behind him. And I ask all of you to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me.”
Clinton’s unqualified endorsement of Obama was an immeasurable help in uniting the party. In contrast, weeks after Clinton had officially secured the majority of pledged delegates (on June 7), Sanders was still delivering his stump speech, broadcast on national television, saying his “political revolution” was just beginning, while Clinton supporters waited in vain for his endorsement. There had been rumors that it would be coming on June 17, but they proved wrong.
The speech designated for that day was highly anticipated — and bitterly disappointing to Clinton supporters. “The major political task that we face in the next five months,” he said, “is to make certain that Donald Trump is defeated and defeated badly.” But he then went on to repeat his critiques of economic, racial, and environmental inequalities in the country. Strikingly absent was an endorsement of Clinton. Instead, he emphasized “the significant difference between him and Hillary on VERY, VERY important issues” (emphasis Bernie’s) and called on his supporters to continue his “revolution”: “We need new blood in the political process, and you are that new blood.”
Those of us expecting an endorsement were not only angry, but insulted. Many of us considered ourselves political progressives, yet to Sanders we were apparently just old, stale blood, clogging the veins of the revolution, agents of a corrupt “establishment.” And when he spoke of taking the party back for “working people” and young people and out of the hands of rich donors, I wondered — not for the first time — how the hundreds of thousands of African Americans who supported Clinton fit in. Did he think they all owned Bentleys or were simply too old to matter?
Bernie’s core supporters, of course, were right there with him. In the days that followed, those who had come round to accepting the fact that she was the nominee invariably prefaced their reluctant support with phrases like “I don’t really like Mrs. Clinton, but . . .” And too many remained who were actually were hoping Trump would win: “[He’s] an asshole,” said one, “but I feel like he’s full of hot air. HRC is calculating, she’s conniving . . . If [she] wins in November, I feel like she will do whatever she can to squash the progressive movement. That movement dies.” Some, like Susan Sarandon, believed that a Trump win would help make “the revolution” happen quicker — the old lefty theory that exposing the contradictions and abuses of capitalism was a prerequisite to the system collapsing under the weight of worker uprising.
Among the most unjust consequences of Sanders’s branding Clinton as an establishment tool was the effect on young African Americans. Their parents — particularly their mothers — were virtually solid in their support for Clinton, and it wasn’t the result of her racial “pandering” (as Trump later suggested) but rather Hillary’s quiet, steady work, over decades, on issues of “kitchen-table” importance to black families and the relationships she had built with black leaders.
That history was either unknown to or ignored by most Sanders supporters; Clinton “has to be willing to get out of what’s comfortable and get on the streets,” said one, obviously ignorant of the fact that at the age of twenty-four, Hillary had been a civil rights activist who went undercover to investigate discrimination in public schools. Hillary was also the first candidate to pay attention to the Flint, Michigan, water crisis, joining forces with Flint’s mayor long before Bernie showed up in town. But like Clinton’s work on LGBTQ issues, decades old rather than campaign inspired, none of this made it into flashy stories headlining her lifelong commitment to racial, gender, and sexual justice. Instead, we were treated to a huge media flap over a mistake she made, mis-describing Nancy Reagan as fighting for AIDS research (when it was quite the opposite).
Perhaps most significantly, Sanders made sure that “1994 Crime Bill” and “super-predator” defined Clinton on racial issues, especially for those active in the Black Lives Matter movement, who were influential in shaping the perceptions of other young black Americans.Many spoke as though she was personally responsible for the spike in mass incarceration that was a consequence of her husband’s bill. “She was part of the whole problem that started sending blacks to jail,” a young black man from Ohio observed. He wasn’t alone. Another — a millennial black woman, also from Ohio, likened the choice between Clinton and Trump to the choice “between being stabbed and being shot.” Millennial icon Colin Kaepernick, famous for kneeling during the national anthem as a form of protest, described both Trump and Clinton as “evil”: “Both are proven liars and it almost seems like they’re trying to debate who’s less racist.”
In the meantime, in June and early July, a GOP united against Clinton (if not yet happy with Trump) was pushing hard on the email “scandal” that Sanders had once so gallantly dismissed. But Sanders was no longer offering his “enough with the damn emails” position, allowing Republicans and James Comey to dish the dirt without interference.
When Sanders finally endorsed Hillary on July 12, speaking to a crowd in which many of his supporters jeered her name and held signs saying “Won’t Vote Hillary,” he looked grumpy and grudging and devoted most of his speech to congratulating himself and his followers for the “fight to create a government which represents all of us, and not just the one percent — a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial, and environmental justice.” He boasted of the races he had won, and was unable to resist a jab at party leaders by citing Clinton’s abundance of super delegates (read, in Sanders’s code: party hacks). He conceded that she “will be the Democratic nominee for president,” and then went on to formally endorse Hillary Clinton — finally.
It was not exactly a rousing call, designed to energize his supporters and redirect their passion toward Clinton. While Clinton had focused her endorsement for Obama on his accomplishments and abilities, Sanders returned once again to his own campaign, citing the impressive attendance at his rallies, and emphasizing that “this campaign is not really about Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump, or Bernie Sanders, or any other candidate who sought the presidency. This campaign is about the needs of the American people and addressing the very serious crises that we face.” Conceding that “as we head into November, Hillary Clinton is far and away the best candidate to do that,” he then launched into what was essentially an accounting of the economic and social positions he and Hillary shared, which gave the lie to the vast gulf between “revolutionary” Bernie and “establishment” Hillary that he had run on.
Of Hillary’s qualifications to run the nation, Sanders mentioned just two accomplishments: “as a great first lady who broke precedent in terms of the role that a first lady was supposed to play as she helped lead the fight for universal health care” and “as a fierce advocate for the rights of children.” Stellar accomplishments, yes, but rather gender typed, and hardly doing justice to the myriad ways in which Clinton had served the country.
Bernie may have been feeling his age that day. If so, I sympathize. But when my tattered memory fails me, I look things up. During the second GOP debate, Carly Fiorina had issued the absurd challenge: “If you want to stump a Democrat, ask them to name an accomplishment of Mrs. Clinton’s.” Here’s what those who wanted to know would have found out (I’ll leave out Hillary’s Wellesley and law school accomplishments, and the trade deals that one wouldn’t expect Sanders to regard as accomplishments):
• Co-founded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families
• Staff attorney for Children’s Defense Fund
• Former Director of the Arkansas Legal Aid Clinic.
• First female chair of the Legal Services Corporation
• Twice listed by the National Law Journal as one of the hundred most influential lawyers in America
• Worked to keep minors out of prison in South Carolina
• Arkansas Woman of the Year in 1983
• Chair of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession
• Created Arkansas’s Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youth
• Led a task force that reformed Arkansas’s education system
• Instrumental in passage of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program
• Promoted nationwide immunization against childhood illnesses
• Successfully sought to increase research funding for prostate cancer and childhood asthma at the National Institutes of Health
• Worked to investigate reports of an illness that affected veterans of the Gulf War (now recognized as Gulf War Syndrome)
• Helped create the Office on Violence Against Women at the Department of Justice
• Initiated and shepherded the Adoption and Safe Families Act
• Traveled to seventy-nine countries during time as FLOTUS
• Helped create Vital Voices, an international initiative to promote the participation of women in the political processes of their countries
• Helped create the Children’s Insurance Program
• Delivered one of the most quoted human rights speeches of all time in Bejing, China
• Served on five Senate committees:
• -Committee on Budget (2001–2002)
• -Committee on Armed Services (2003–2009)
• -Committee on Environment and Public Works (2001–2009)
• -Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (2001–2009)
• -Special Committee on Aging.
• Member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
• Instrumental in securing $21 billion in funding for the World Trade Center site’s redevelopment
• Took a leading role in the investigation of health consequences of first responders and drafted the first bill to compensate and offer the health services our first responders deserve (Clinton’s successor in the Senate, Kirsten Gillibrand, passed the bill)
• In the aftermath of September 11th, worked closely with her senior Senate counterpart from New York, Senator Charles Schumer, on securing $21.4 billion in funding for the World Trade Center redevelopment
• Proposed a revival of the New Deal–era Home Owners’ Loan Corporation to help homeowners refinance their mortgages in the wake of the 2008 financial disaster
• Brokered a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel
• Brokered human rights agreement with Burma
• Was the most traveled secretary of state to date.
• The Clinton Foundation, founded by her and her husband, has improved the living conditions for nearly 400 million people in over 180 countries through its Initiative program
• Introduced the Family Entertainment Protection Act, intended to protect children from inappropriate content found in video games
• Former US secretary of state
• As SOS, made LGBTQ rights a focus of foreign policy
• As SOS, worked aggressively on issue of climate change
• GRAMMY Award Winner
In all of this, Bernie Sanders found nothing around which to rally his supporters.
The piece printed above is taken from The Destruction of Hillary Clinton: Untangling the Political Forces, Media Culture, and Assault on Fact that Decided the 2016 Election.Susan Bordo’s forthcoming book, due out early in 2020, is entitled Imagine Bernie Sanders as a Woman and Other Writings on Politics and the Media 2016–2017.