Hillary Clinton’s kindler gentler Presidential campaign grinds on. It’s been a few weeks since the first (and so far only) Democratic debate where she enjoyed her finest hour in this election cycle thanks in no small measure to Bernie Sanders. She has returned the favor by shamelessly and dishonestly playing gender and race cards against him.
Nine days after the October 13 debate, Clinton told the Democratic National Women’s Committee Forum “I’ve been told to stop, and I quote, ‘shouting’ about gun violence. Well, first of all, I’m not shouting. It’s just when women talk, some people think we’re shouting.” Clinton was referring directly to Bernie Sanders remark that “[a]ll the shouting in the world is not going to do what I would hope all of us want, and that is keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have those guns and end this horrible violence.”
Obviously, Sanders was not literally criticizing Clinton for “shouting”. He used the term metaphorically to mean refusing to compromise on the issue. Those watching the debate or reading Sanders’ words after the fact did not hear any sexism and no commentators remarked upon it. Moreover, Sanders has on many previous occasions described dogmatism on this issue as “shouting” or “screaming” or “yelling” or “raising our voices”.
Within a few days, however, Clinton and her team, which includes “hitman” David Brock, seized upon the exchange and decided it could be used potently, albeit falsely, to portray Sanders as a chauvinist. With the help of reliable media allies Amanda Marcotte at Salon and Emily Crockett at Vox, Clinton succeeded in putting Sanders on the defensive even though he did nothing wrong.
Recognizing that calling Bernie – a feminist and reproductive rights hero – sexist might be viewed as overreaching, Marcotte and Crockett instead praised Clinton for triggering a conversation about how many men (not necessarily Bernie) perceive women as shouting just for speaking up – a conversation, needless to say, Sanders can’t win. Clinton herself stopped just short of accusing the women’s movement champion of misogyny. When asked in New Hampshire whether she would call Sanders sexist, she “shrugged, smiled, and sidestepped the question. ‘I said what I had to say about it.’”
This week, with the smoke from her sexist smear clearing, Clinton played the race card. Speaking to a South Carolina NAACP chapter, she said: “There are some who say that this [gun violence] is an urban problem. Sometimes what they mean by that is: It’s a black problem.”
Again Clinton profoundly and willfully misrepresented Sanders comments at the first debate. Defending his votes against the Brady Bill and permitting products liability lawsuits against gun makers and distributors, Sanders correctly noted his “rural” state constituents were pro-gun. There’s simply no way to square that statement with Clinton’s implication that Sanders dismisses gun violence as a black problem.
Notwithstanding his less than stellar voting history on guns, Sanders has a much better overall record on racial justice matters than Clinton. Black Lives Matter offshoot Campaign Zero recognized this in August by assigning him far better grades than Clinton. Since then, Sanders has only improved his standing among civil rights and criminal justice activists by calling for an end to the federal war on pot.
Of course Clinton knows all this just as she knows full well that Sanders is neither sexist nor racist. What makes her latest smears truly despicable is that in 2008 she used nearly identical language to that for which she now attacks Sanders.
In her first campaign for President, then Senator Clinton called for a respectful back and forth on proposed gun control laws.
I respect the 2nd Amendment. I respect the rights of lawful gun owners to own guns, to use their guns. But I also believe that most lawful gun owners whom I have spoken with for many years across our country also want to be sure that we keep those guns out of the wrong hands. And as president, I will work to try to bridge this divide, which I think has been polarizing and, frankly, doesn’t reflect the common sense of the American people.”
Before the Nevada caucus, Hillary Clinton explained her recently announced opposition to a national gun registry, which she had previously supported, by saying “I don’t want the federal government preempting states and cities like New York that have very specific problems.”
Justifying different laws for urban and rural regions, she noted at a debate in Philadelphia,“we have one set of rules in NYC and a totally different set of rules in the rest of the state. What might work in NYC is certainly not going to work in Montana.”
Not so long ago, when she thought it served her political interests, Clinton called for a dialogue with gun rights advocates. She opposed mandatory gun registration. She defended different approaches in rural and urban regions. Now, she wants you to believe, Bernie Sanders is sexist and racist for saying the same things.