It’s A Matter of Character
Lets get this out of the way. The CNN moderators of the January 14th Democratic Primary Debate were abominable, manipulative and shamefully unprofessional, asking idiotic questions and flaunting their biases like a Slovenian escort’s well-sculpted buns. Giddy with the thought of provoking fights between two progressives whom they despise almost equally, they had at it, fanning the flames of a manufactured controversy that never should have been handed to them in the first place.
And let’s get something else out of the way. I don’t work for the Sanders campaign, and I certainly don’t speak for it. They have their strategy and will deal with this situation as they see fit. I’m just exercising my right to call it as I see it.
Ok, so now let’s deal with the calls to dismiss this whole thing as a mere “misunderstanding” so as to not let the media divide the progressive wing of the Democratic party. I wish, but sorry, that ship sailed on Tuesday night and we are not longer in control of it.
The corporations that run our national media (and don’t want to have their monopolies broken up or their political ad revenue reduced) are only too happy to watch the two candidates they hate and fear most taking off the gloves and having a go at each other. They didn’t start the fire but they will fan the flames until someone throws a bucket of water on this mess. That means someone is going to have to back down, and IMHO it ought to be the one who threw the match on what she should have known was a kerosene-soaked shit bomb.
You don’t believe it? Just watch. The media have what they want and they will keep it alive, keep digging, keep drawing in new combatants and keep forcing the person who started it to double down on her baseless accusation. Unfortunately, she’s painted herself into a corner on this one and the only way out is to admit that she was wrong, apologize and fire whoever put her up to it. But she won’t because she can’t at this point. And the longer this goes on, the more she will dig herself in, embroider on it and drive a wedge into the only coalition capable of capturing the Democratic nomination and then the White House. It is deeply, deeply unfortunate.
Probably the best thing both Sanders and Warren can do is to continue to refuse to talk about it, dismiss it as a misunderstanding or a tempest in a teapot that the media is flogging for ratings, reassert their agreements and friendship and pivot to issues. It would be better if their surrogates did the same thing. (Reminder: I’m an independent, radical blogger, not a surrogate for Democrats of any stripe, but if I do volunteer to make calls, write postcards or canvass for anyone, I’ll stick to the script.) Maybe it will help. I hope so.
I wish, as I am sure most progressives do, that this would go away, that it could honestly be dismissed as a misunderstanding, a misremembering of nuance, a different take on a perfectly reasonable, amicable discussion of how a vile, misogynistic, racist, xenophobic, pathological liar could logically be expected to use sexism against any woman opponent. That is very likely the conversation that did take place. But there are too many improbable hoops I would have to jump through to believe that Liz Warren’s accusation is based on a misunderstanding. So let’s look at some of them.
It is curious, to say the least, that this “misunderstanding” only surfaced two years after the conversation, on the eve of a major debate and the first, crucial primary contest, with one candidate surging and the other sliding in the polls.
It is curious, to say the least, that it emerged through four anonymous sources who were not in the room and could have only gotten their information from the one and only other person in the room.
It is curious, to say the least, that these sources, obviously close to the candidate, then “leaked” it without her knowledge to a major media source, one known to be openly and rabidly hostile to the candidate who is pulling ahead of her in the polls.
But the piece that clinches it for me is how utterly impossible it would be to “misunderstand” a lifelong champion of women’s rights, someone you claim as a friend; a man who is on record as stating clearly for decades that a woman can and should be president; a man with a decades long record of never accepting that what is right should be “impossible” but instead fighting to make it reality; a man who stood aside, deferred to YOU and and pleaded with YOU to run for president in 2015 as a progressive, and who only stepped up when you refused; a man who, after the nomination was stolen from him, and after you refused to endorse him, but instead turned around and endorsed a neoliberal warmonger who happens to have a uterus, nevertheless fought harder than either of you to elect her the first woman president.
How the hell do you know all that, call yourself a “friend” and them “mishear” him say something that is so completely absurd and out of character? And what did you mean to accomplish by dropping this grenade now?
Primaries are not only about ideas; they are also about character. And someone’s character has (once again) been shown to be lacking.
Just to be clear, I’ve been a fan of Liz since she came onto the national scene. I like a lot of her ideas and I want to like her. I desperately want two progressive giants tag-teaming on the debate stage, making the case for progressive policies. I want them to capture between them the 50%+1 votes that one of them will need to win the nomination on the first vote and I want there to be enough trust and good will between them and their supporters that whoever goes to the convention with fewer delegates will do the right thing by releasing their delegates to capture the nomination for their friend and fellow progressive, keep the superdelegates from rigging a brokered convention and bring us to victory in the 2020 general election.
There is only one candidate who I would trust to have that level of integrity, love and self sacrifice. But he is the one who will go into the convention with the far more delegates and the best chance of beating the orange fascist. The fate of the world might literally come to depend on Liz Warren’s character and whether she will do the right thing or play a lethal game of chicken, leveraging her delegates for a political plum, splitting the progressive wing of the party and throwing the convention to the superdelegates, hoping for the VP slot under a neoliberal tool who will lose.
Today that thought makes me sick with fear.