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Looking ahead to tonight’s Sanders/Clinton debate

by | Feb 11, 2016

By Dave Andrusko

clintonsanders881Well, buckle up your seat belts. Just two days after Democratic Socialist Sen. Bernie Sander walloped former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, the two will go at it tonight in a debate moderated by PBS NewsHour anchors Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff and simulcast on CNN and NPR.

It’s been quite a nine days for Mrs. Clinton, extending back to her “victory” over Sanders in the Iowa caucuses. Let’s look at a few examples of the most recent detours.

#1. NBC Nightly News Andrea Mitchell, arguably the least likely correspondent to say anything negative about Clinton, actually said the following after Clinton’s 60% to 38% loss to Sanders:

Top Clinton supporters tell NBC News they are alarmed by voters’ reasons for abandoning Clinton, losing to Sanders on honesty and trustworthiness by a whopping 86 points and the potential first female president losing women by 11 points, and young women by 59 points. Expect to hear more Clinton attack lines against Sanders’ policy on health care and taxes.

There was understandably so much attention paid the overwhelmng size of the loss and the fact that Sanders won among women 55% to 44% that the elephant in the room was largely ignored. As polls have indicted for a long time, the electorate, including a large swathe of Democrats, do not believe Clinton is honest or trustworthy.

#2. Speaking of the newest iteration of the gender gap–a great many Democratic women throwing their lot in, not with Clinton but Sanders– Mrs. Clinton, as is so often the case, substitutes bluster and impatience for a cool-eye assessment of her mistakes.

Chuck Todd of Meet the Press asked her last weekend about the impact of a cringe worthy comment made by a prominent Clinton supporter–that there’s a “special place in hell” for women who do not support other women (Madelyn Albright). Evidently he didn’t have time to address the even more insulting observation–that “when you’re young, you’re thinking, ‘Where are the boys?’” (Gloria Steinem).

Todd asked, “Do you understand why some might have been offended by it?” to which an impatient, tone-deaf Clinton responded “Well good grief, we’re getting offended by everything these days.” I am not kidding, she actually said that.

The awkward attempts of Clinton, her campaign, and her supporters to explain/stop the hemorrhaging illustrate once again why the real problem her campaign is having is not staff but the candidate.

Another member of the pro-abortion feminist sisterhood, Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus, laid into Clinton today. Among the most interesting observations were these two.

(1) “[S]top the insinuations, subtle and explicit, that Clinton is the victim of sexism.” The victim card is growing worn out around the edges and to play it “when confronted with what is simply tough politics as usual” is problematic, at best (my characterization of Marcus).

(2) “[C]ut the guilt-tripping. It won’t only fail to convince younger women — it’s going to insult their mothers as well. … Feminism doesn’t mean imposing a moral obligation on women to vote a certain way. It means trusting them, not demeaning them, when they choose the candidate they like best, male or female. Even if their mothers disagree.”

It’s been a rough patch of water for Mrs. Clinton. What makes it more difficult for her is that there is no reason to believe people will suddenly begin to see her as honest (and plenty of reason to believe even more doubters will arise) or that younger women will have an “aha” moment and switch their allegiance to Clinton.

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Categories: Politics