I’ve been leaning for a while, so it’s not as if this is likely to surprise anyone, but at this point I’ve officially made a decision, and I will be voting for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. The primary itself isn’t until May 3rd, but I tend to vote early– possibly as soon as next week, since I’ll be downtown a fair amount. I fully expect to also vote for Clinton in the November election, as I’ve expected her to get the nomination for a while now (and will continue to do so regardless of the results of the Wisconsin primary tonight; Sanders will win, but not by enough to make a difference) although I will happily vote for Sanders in November if it turns out that I am wrong about that.
That said, Sanders’ interview with the New York Daily News’ Editorial Board was what convinced me that my vote belonged with Hillary. In general, in Democratic primaries, my vote tends to go to the candidate who pisses me off the least during the primary. Pete Buttigieg earned my vote in his first election, by example, by being the last person in a field of several acceptable candidates to do something I found personally annoying. And, again: should Bernie get the nomination somehow, I’ll vote for him. I would vote for a half-eaten mayo and banana sandwich or something I scraped off the bottom of my shoe before I would allow any of the current Republican candidates anywhere near the White House, honestly.
But this interview. Holy fuck, this interview. It’s bad enough that it should end his candidacy, honestly, and it calls his readiness to run into question in some very serious ways. It’s really, really, really bad. I don’t have time to fisk the whole thing– the post would be ten thousand words long, easy, but here’s a few choice bits:
Sanders: So I think we need trade. But I think it should be based on fair trade policies. No, I don’t think it is appropriate for trade policies to say that you can move to a country where wages are abysmal, where there are no environmental regulations, where workers can’t form unions. That’s not the kind of trade agreement that I will support.
Daily News: So how would you stop that?
Sanders: I will stop it by renegotiating all of the trade agreements that we have. And by establishing principles that says that what fair trade is about is you are going to take into consideration the wages being paid to workers in other countries. And the environmental standards that exist.
This is far from the most egregious part of the interview, but scrolling through it again it was the first thing that jumped out: this man is in the Senate. If he’s not fully aware that “I will renegotiate every trade agreement that we have” is a bunch of crazy nonsense, nonsense I would expect to hear from Donald Trump or Sarah Palin, then … God, I don’t even know. How, exactly, are you going to do that? Because that’s batshittery of the highest order.
It’s the bit about the banks that’s the scariest. It’s a bit too long to excerpt properly, but again, you need to read this interview. Hating on Wall Street is Sanders’ entire schtick, and he reveals in this interview that he doesn’t have the faintest idea what he’s talking about, by his own admission:
Daily News: Okay. Well, let’s assume that you’re correct on that point. How do you go about <breaking up the banks>?
Sanders: How you go about doing it is having legislation passed, or giving the authority to the secretary of treasury to determine, under Dodd-Frank, that these banks are a danger to the economy over the problem of too-big-to-fail.
Daily News: But do you think that the Fed, now, has that authority?
Sanders: Well, I don’t know if the Fed has it. But I think the administration can have it.
Daily News: How? How does a President turn to JPMorgan Chase, or have the Treasury turn to any of those banks and say, “Now you must do X, Y and Z?”
Sanders: Well, you do have authority under the Dodd-Frank legislation to do that, make that determination.
Daily News: You do, just by Federal Reserve fiat, you do?
Sanders: Yeah. Well, I believe you do.
He doesn’t know if he has the authority to break up the banks. He doesn’t know if the Fed has the authority to break up the banks. And, as he reveals later:
Sanders: You would determine is that, if a bank is too big to fail, it is too big to exist. And then you have the secretary of treasury and some people who know a lot about this, making that determination. If the determination is that Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan Chase is too big to fail, yes, they will be broken up.
Daily News: Okay. You saw, I guess, what happened with Metropolitan Life. There was an attempt to bring them under the financial regulatory scheme, and the court said no. And what does that presage for your program?
Sanders: It’s something I have not studied, honestly, the legal implications of that.
He “hasn’t studied the legal implications” of what is probably a test case for his entire reason for existing as a candidate.
How do we break the banks up, an astonishingly fucking complicated task? Underpants gnomes.
This bit here is fun too:
Sanders: No, I wouldn’t say they were in the tank. I’m saying, a Sanders administration would have a much more aggressive attorney general looking at all of the legal implications. All I can tell you is that if you have Goldman Sachs paying a settlement fee of $5 billion, other banks paying a larger fee, I think most Americans think, “Well, why do they pay $5 billion?” Not because they’re heck of a nice guys who want to pay $5 billion. Something was wrong there. And if something was wrong, I think they were illegal activities.
Daily News: Okay. But do you have a sense that there is a particular statute or statutes that a prosecutor could have or should have invoked to bring indictments?
Sanders: I suspect that there are. Yes.
Daily News: You believe that? But do you know?
Sanders: I believe that that is the case. Do I have them in front of me, now, legal statutes? No, I don’t. But if I would…yeah, that’s what I believe, yes. When a company pays a $5 billion fine for doing something that’s illegal, yeah, I think we can bring charges against the executives.
“I believe,” “I suspect.” This man is running for President. How the fuck do you not know?
And then, later on, there’s this:
Daily News: Do you support the Palestinian leadership’s attempt to use the International Criminal Court to litigate some of these issues to establish that, in their view, Israel had committed essentially war crimes?
Daily News: Why not?
Sanders: Why not?
Daily News: Why not, why it…
Sanders: Look, why don’t I support a million things in the world? I’m just telling you that I happen to believe…anybody help me out here, because I don’t remember the figures, but my recollection is over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza. Does that sound right?
Daily News: I think it’s probably high, but we can look at that.
Sanders: I don’t have it in my number…but I think it’s over 10,000. My understanding is that a whole lot of apartment houses were leveled. Hospitals, I think, were bombed. So yeah, I do believe and I don’t think I’m alone in believing that Israel’s force was more indiscriminate than it should have been.
I’m sorry, guys: he spends most of this interview sounding like a more articulate version of Donald Trump. And, to be clear, that’s not a compliment, at all. This interview is awful, awful in every way, and it reveals that Sanders just is not prepared right now to take on this job. Is he better than the Republican alternatives? Abso-fucking-lutely, which is why I’ll vote for him if he wins the primary. And, for that matter, he’ll win the general if he somehow gets past Clinton. But he’ll be a one-term President, and not a good one.
(Also: genuinely pissed about the fact that he’s refusing to help down-ballot Dems. That’s basically coming as a coda at the end of a longish piece, and it doesn’t quite fit thematically, but he’s already got little enough chance to get his agenda passed with a Democratic Congress, and he’s not trying to get a Democratic Congress. That’s political malpractice.)
So. Yeah: #Imwithher.