Bend it like Bernie

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) appears on CBS News 'Face the Nation' in Washington DC May 10, 2015. REUTERS/CBS News/Chris Usher/Handout via Reuters  ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO ARCHIVES. NO SALES.

By now we’ve all heard how the Democratic presidential nomination contest has turned nasty as Bernie Sanders, claiming he was responding to Hillary Clinton in kind, told a Philadelphia rally that Clinton was the one not qualified to be president.

His rationale is that the “sins” she has committed, including taking money from special interest groups and Wall Street, supporting the Panama trade deal, and backing the war in Iraq, disqualify her.

The problem, as many have pointed out, is that, minus original support for the Iraq war, even President Obama would fail to meet the bar set by Sanders.

Clearly Sanders’ team knows that and decided to take the risk anyway. I expect that they were waiting to take things in this direction, knew they needed a Hail Mary pass, and found it in their excuse that Clinton maligned their guy first, only she didn’t.

The reference point was an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. On several occasions, interviewer Joe Scarborough tried to get Clinton to say that she thought Sander’s unqualified to be president, presumably because of his weakness on policy questions evident in recent media interviews.

Clinton gave the standard political answer, which was to criticize her opponent in general terms but then say that the voters would have to decide if he was qualified.

When asked how Sanders could premise an entire overheated attack on Clinton based on something she never said, his campaign stated that he was responding to various media headlines such as the one in the Washington Post, which read “Clinton questions whether Sanders qualified to be president.

Again, she never said that, and while I’m inclined to call it shoddy journalism, I know that headlines are often (always?) written by different people than those who write the stories. Still, it’s shoddy something.

It’s about the media trying to generate heat and it gave Sanders a pretext to say what he wanted to say anyway.

Bernie Sanders is a professional politician, with all the good and bad that implies. That he would twist the truth for political gain surprised me not at all, though it might come as a great shock to those who are already drafting documents for his eventual canonization.

Yes, some sloppy headline writing gave Bernie the cover he needed to launch a predictable, and self-righteous rant.

I have to say, Bernie Sanders seems very well-qualified to be president. He can bend the truth with the best of them.

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