Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Just Say "Yes"

Asked a question, most politicians go on and on in order to avoid answering a question and/or to consume so much time that the interviewer doesn't have the time (or possibly the patience) to ask a follow-up question.

But sometimes a "yes" or a "no" will suffice, and even be helpful. In anticipation of the four-hour , four-part documentary "Hillary" which will air in March on Hulu, Hollywood Reporter reporter (that's its name; not my fault) Lacey Rose interviewed Hillary R. Clinton. She asked the former senator and presidential candidate

In the doc, you're brutally honest on Sanders: "He was in Congress for years. He had one senator support him. Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done. He was a career politician. It's all just baloney and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it." That assessment still hold?

The response? "Yes, it does."

That was a good answer because it was, respectively: a) accurate; b) accurate (Jeff Merkley of Oregon); c) no doubt an exaggeration but probably within the margin of error; d) could be, because he is obviously cantankerous; and e) largely accurate (see (d)).

It also may be close to meaningless that he has gotten little done.  The Center for EffectivePolicymaking gives each member of Congress a ranking "regarding the bills that members of Congress sponsor, how far they move through the lawmaking process, and how important their policy proposals are." Everyone is ranked as "above expectations," "meets expectations," or "below expectations." Amy Klobuchar ranked as #1 among all Senate Democrats (and thus "above"); Elizabeth Warren and Representative John Delaney as "meets expectations"; and Tulsi Gabbard and Bernard Sanders as "below expectations."

Without further analysis, this is (though interesting) next to meaningless.  Perhaps Sanders ranks low because as someone on the far left, his approach may be off-putting to Republicans, which- depending on circumstances- may not be a bad thing.

Rose then asked the critical, albeit obvious "if he gets the nomination, will you endorse and campaign for him," wherein Clinton responded

I'm not going to go there yet. We're still in a very vigorous primary season. I will say, however, that it's not only him, it's the culture around him. It's his leadership team. It's his prominent supporters. It's his online Bernie Bros and their relentless attacks on lots of his competitors, particularly the women. And I really hope people are paying attention to that because it should be worrisome that he has permitted this culture — not only permitted, [he] seems to really be very much supporting it. And I don't think we want to go down that road again where you campaign by insult and attack and maybe you try to get some distance from it, but you either don't know what your campaign and supporters are doing or you're just giving them a wink and you want them to go after Kamala [Harris] or after Elizabeth [Warren]. I think that that's a pattern that people should take into account when they make their decisions.

The explanation is good; the answer is not. She would have been better off responding "yes, I would endorse him."  Or the response could have been "anybody is better than Trump," which would have the advantages of being an implied put-down of Sanders and of being true. If then asked whether she would campaign for Sanders, Clinton might have stated "I don't know whether he'd request that."  That remark could have been followed by her comments about Bernard's "prominent supporters" and his "Bernie Bros"  (video below for entertainment purposes only). 

Nonetheless, under no conditions should she have avoided stating definitively that she would endorse Sanders.  If queried about the superficially evident contradiction between that assurance and her criticism of the Sanders campaign, she need only have stated "Donald Trump."

That would be enough for virtually every Democrat and should be enough for most Americans. It's the easy answer, and the correct one.

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