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I’ve diagnosed the problem (with Clinton’s campaign; one of the problems, anyway): She keeps coming up with vapid soundbite lines that in the context of this primary contest are ridiculous. Like “It’s easy to diagnose the problem. You’ve got to be able to solve the problem.”

I’m getting really good at recognizing instantly the latest vapid or ridiculous soundbite that Clinton has settled on and will be repeating again and again.  So I detected her latest one the moment she introduced it at last Thursday’s debate:

It’s easy to diagnose the problem. You’ve got to be able to solve the problem.

Clinton was busy with private fundraisers on Friday and Saturday, I believe, but she confirmed the accuracy of my radar when on Sunday she told a block party in Washington Heights:

It’s easy to diagnose the problem. You’ve got to be able to solve the problem.

I’m not sure what problem she’s diagnosed that she has in mind.  It’s certainly not, for example, that many millions of Americans remain without healthcare insurance and that many, many millions more live in fear of actually needing major medical care because their deductibles are so high and that huge swaths of Americans find their standard of living significantly impaired because of the high and annually-increasing insurance premiums.

Unless, of course, she means that Bernie Sanders has diagnosed the problem.  And that he is proposing a way to solve the problem.

I mean … just sayin’.

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Krugman The Clairvoyant

[Paul Krugman] has a negative view of Bernie Sanders “Why I Haven’t Felt the Bern “ which links to his column on insulting Dixie.

The post is brief and a bit odd — Krugman criticizes Sanders for:

“… the casual adoption, with no visible effort to check the premises, of a story line that sounds good. It’s all about the big banks; single-payer is there for the taking if only we want it; government spending will yield huge payoffs — not the more modest payoffs conventional Keynesian analysis suggests; Republican support will vanish if we take on corporate media.

“In each case the story runs into big trouble if you do a bit of homework; if not completely wrong, it needs a lot of qualification.”

Disagreeing with Paul Krugman? 1, Robert Waldmann, Angry Bear, yesterday

I posted the following in the Comments thread:

Robert, you quoted two seminal sentences from Krugman’s blog post, but you failed to quote the preceding paragraph and therefore missed Krugman’s real point: that he possesses powers of clairvoyance and knew last spring that eventually some economist not connected with Sanders’ campaign would publish erroneous findings about economic gains from the government spending on some of Sanders’ policy proposals and that a couple of top people in the campaign would announce those findings, and that Sanders would make no inroads with elderly and middle-aged African-Americans in the South and then make dumb claims that Southern primary results shouldn’t have the impact they have due to their frontload in the primary and caucuses schedule since those states are mostly very Republican ones.

That said, you did zero in on Krugman’s mystifying claims, first, that Sanders is saying that single-payer is there for the taking if only we want it—an assertion by Krugman that is both flatly false or represents a deep understanding by Krugman of Sanders’ actual statements—and, second, that it is dishonest and improper for a serious candidate for the Democratic nomination for president to propose single-payer.  Or, for that matter, to propose ANYTHING that isn’t simply a tweaking of the status quo.

And then there’s the issue of why Krugman hasn’t noticed, or pretends not to have noticed, that at the heart of Sanders’ break-up-the-big-banks argument is that those few financial institutions—including those like Goldman Sachs and Morgan-Stanley that do not accept ordinary deposits and make ordinary business and personal loans, but that do do things such as buy and sell mortgage-backed securities banks—control vast amounts of wealth and correspondingly have vast amounts of economic and political power.  And you do address that.

It really IS outright dishonest of Krugman to claim, again and again and again, that Sanders’ single concern about the size of the big banks is that they could again trigger a financial and economic meltdown unless they are bailed out by the federal government.  It is by no means the only issue that Sanders mentions with respect to those institutions.  But is an important one.   And the head of the FDIC is in agreement with that, which you would think Krugman would acknowledge when he criticizes Sanders, but doesn’t.

And I downright love your questioning of the basis for Krugman’s obsession with accusations by some Sanders supporters that Krugman, etc., are members of the establishment, personally corrupt, and such—and his odd passive phrasing of it there.

But now that he has challenged assertions that he is a member of the establishment, he might care to address the larger issue of whether he thinks Clinton is—and if he does, whether he thinks she should stop playing cutesy games about the meaning of the word and stop denying that she is indeed, rather obviously, a longtime, high-profile member of it.

Which as I mentioned in my post just below yours, she did again claim at Thursday’s debate.

Specifically, in that preceding paragraph of Krugman’s that I reference, which is the opening paragraph of his post, he writes:

Today’s column offers an opportunity to say, for the record, why I haven’t been the Bernie booster a lot of people apparently expected me to be. For the business about discounting Clinton support as coming from “conservative states” in the “Deep South” actually exemplifies the problem I saw in the Sanders campaign from the beginning, and made me distrust both the movement and the man.

So, okay, we get it.  Paul Krugman isn’t just a great economist (which he is; no sarcasm intended there).  He’s also clairvoyant, prescient, a talented tarot card reader.  He’s just not all that good, or for that matter, all that honest a political analyst. He either has no actual idea why Sanders’ campaign really matters or he pretends not to.

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A question looming before the debate last night was: Which of two mutually exclusive positions Clinton has taken recently on Dodd-Frank’s too-big-to-fail provision would she repeat in the debate? The answer: Both. [Updated 4/16]

As for Clinton herself, her bandwagon-jumping nature is a big reason why so many people dislike her.  But in this instance there was the additional element of dishonesty: she knew that Sanders rather than the editorial board members had it right about what Dodd-Frank provides. She had said so publicly, recently, in a statement in which she also said she had said that before.

ForExTraderProfits.com, linking to my Apr. 13 post here

Which in turn was excerpted from a post of mine from Apr. 10.

The instance I was referring to was Clinton’s decision a day after the New York Daily News published online its editorial board’s interview of Bernie Sanders—a truly weird interview in which the board members asked questions based upon their inaccurate factual beliefs across a panoply of issues, including that Dodd-Frank does not include a provision that allows the Fed together with the Treasury Dept. to designate a financial institution systemically important and dangerously large and order the institution to pare down.

And including that most experts, including those from the finance industry, believe that the best mechanism by which a financial institution would be pared down would be for the government to give them parameters such as a cap-size and permit the institutions to determine for themselves how to accomplish it.

This, while also demanding that Sanders comment on a lengthy opinion, issued four days earlier and reported about and analyzed in the media three days earlier, in which a single federal trial-level judge ruled unconstitutional the Dodd-Frank provision that allows the Fed together with the Treasury Dept. to designate a financial institution systemically important and dangerously large and order the institution to pare down—the Dodd-Frank provision that the Daily News editorial board said doesn’t exist.  The opinion also was based partly on the judge’s erroneous belief that that provision requires something that it actually does not: a cost-benefit analysis, which, Paul Krugman notes, would be absurd.

And also while repeatedly conflating legislation that Sanders has proposed to augment and clarify that provision of Dodd-Frank with Dodd-Frank itself, making it impossible for Sanders to follow what even was being asked.

Nonetheless, the political—but curiously, not the finance-law pundits and experts nor economists (including the ones who double as pundits, with the exception of Paul Krugman)—put out word that Sanders’s answers indicated that he has no understanding of this seminal issue of his campaign: current law on breaking up the banks as too big too fail, and the mechanism by which this would be decided either under current law (Dodd-Frank) or Sanders’s proposed legislation.  (Krugman subtlely walked back his take three days after he included that take in a column published three days after the interview transcript was released.)

Clinton, in an interview the morning after the transcript was released, characteristically parroted the take of the in mainstream political pundits and journalists that it was Sanders rather than the editorial board members who lacked knowledge and understanding of that relevant part of Dodd-Frank and of what the consensus mechanism to pare down the financial institutions would be—that the institutions themselves, like MetLife in the case in which the new court ruling was issued, would be allowed to determine themselves how to comply with the cap order.  Sanders, Clinton said, hadn’t done his homework.

But if so, then neither had she, since, as a couple of dismayed non-household-name journalists quickly noted, she had said at the February debate, repeating what, as she herself pointed out, she had said earlier in the campaign: that Dodd-Frank indeed authorizes a forced breakup of too-big-to-fail financial institutions and that she as president would have her administration invoke the provision.

So a question looming before the debate last night was, which of these mutually exclusive positions would she take?  The answer: Both.  This is, after all, Hillary Clinton we’re talking about.

A few minutes after she reiterated her position of February, December, November, and October that her administration would invoke the now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t-now-you-see-it-again Dodd-Frank provision that authorizes the compelled paring of huge financial institutions, she turned to Sanders and repeated her parrot line that Sanders’s answers to the New York Daily News editorial board indicated that he didn’t even know much about his own signature policy: break up the big banks.  But this time (if I recall correctly), Clinton being Clinton, she phrased as something like, “The New York Daily News editorial board said Sanders ….”  Because a cool way to mislead is to note that you’re repeating (and thus adopting) a claim made by someone else.

I have no idea why neither Sanders nor the debate questioners didn’t ask her why she claims Sanders was wrong and that editorial board right while repeatedly saying, before that Sanders interview and now after it, exactly what Sanders said in that interview.  And why they didn’t ask her why, if Dodd-Frank doesn’t authorize the too-big-to-fail designations and a mandate to pare down, she nonetheless keeps saying, when asked, that her administration would invoke the provision.

And I have no idea why neither Sanders nor the questioners asked her why she thought it was a bad idea to allow the banks themselves to decide how to pare down in compliance with the Dodd-Frank order.  Other than, y’know, that the editorial board thought it indicated incompetence and unpreparedness on Sanders’s part and that lots of pundits agreed.  In fact, some still do; this is a meme that is proving particularly resistent to actual fact, especially among big-name baby-boomer and Gen-X major-media writers who themselves are clueless about, say, Dodd-Frank.

What the questioners did do, though, is ask Sanders questions that gave him the opportunity to in essence respond to the punditry’s sheep stampede, such as why he would prefer to allow the banks to decide for themselves what path to take to comply with a pare-down order.  Which he did, beautifully, although Nicholas Kristof (probably among others) didn’t notice.

I don’t want to continue to beat this horse, which I’d hoped and expected would have been explicitly killed last night but instead was merely wounded: Not just about Clinton’s shamelessly snakelike handling of this particular matter but that it is part and parcel of who she is, at least as a candidate.

My concern–obsession, really–with this isn’t so much because I support Sanders, who mostly is defending himself just fine, but because I expect that Clinton will win the nomination, and then I will switch my allegiance (without enthusiasm) to her.  Clinton clearly does not get how much this type of thing hurts her as a candidate; presumably, she thinks it helps her, which itself indicates a problem with her perception.  So it is part of her regular repertoire.

As I’ve said before, it probably won’t matter in the outcome of the election.  She will be opposing (almost certainly) a pathological liar who (absolutely certainly) will be pushing most of the same fiscal-policy snake oil, dictated by the donors and their puppets and fellow travelers who comprise the Republican establishment, as the folks who unabashedly are part of that establishment have been pushing for decades now.

But Clinton has a dangerously weird thought process in some key respects, and her failure to recognize that her incessant sleight-of-hand misrepresentations, or outright misrepresentations, confirm what so many people already think about her: that she’s dishonest, that she’s untrustworthy, that you can’t simply accept at face value what she says.

Another example of this, albeit of a slightly different nature, is the ridiculous claim, repeated again last night, that she‘s not part of the establishment.  The very last thing the Democrats need in this particular election is a nominee at the very top of their ticket who is the very definition of “establishment” but doesn’t know it because she doesn’t know what voters mean by “establishment” and therefore why the word matters.  I have no idea whether Clinton is feigning that she doesn’t know what is meant by “establishment” or whether instead she actually misunderstands the term.  I suspect the former**, but will take her at her word.  And I don’t know which is worse.  It’s a fielder’s choice, I think.

Sanders is by no means a perfect candidate, and I have to say that Krugman finally made a criticism of Sanders that I agree with, in his column today.*  But Democrats fail at their own peril to reckon with Clinton’s inability to understand that some of her tactics and gimmicks are counterproductive.

—-

*Krugman does think that only Sanders among the Democratic primary candidates misrepresents things.  Guess he doesn’t follow the Clinton campaign as closely as he follows the Sanders campaign.  Or at all.  He just shills for it.

Added 4/15 at 5:42 p.m.

**Originally and erroneously said “latter”.  Corrected 4/17 at 10:08 a.m.

____

UPDATE: In response to criticisms of this post in the Comments thread, which insist that Sanders really, really doesn’t understand the relevant Dodd-Frank provisions and that Clinton was right to say last week that he didn’t do his homework and that he doesn’t understand this key issue of his and hint that this means he’s unqualified to be president—and that it’s fine for Clinton to talk out of both sides of her mouth, one the side that says Sanders is clueless about a key issue, the other the side that agrees completely with Sanders on the issue and expands upon it, going further than Sanders does—I wrote:

NYT The Upshot blogger Peter Eavis, who actually specializes in coverage of Dodd-Frank and related finance-industry matters, begs to differ with you.

His post, which is lengthy and detailed, is titled, “At Debate, Hillary Clinton Leaves Questions About Approach to Banks.” It’s theme, which it establishes damn clearly: That Sanders knows more that Clinton does about the relevant provisions of Dodd-Frank, and wayyyy more than the Daily News editorial board members or any of the mainstream political pundits who bought the editorial board’s line, know.

The subtext is that Clinton is either truly confused or being deliberately misleading. And that either way she well knows that it was the Daily News editorial board members and the political pundits who jumped on their bandwagon, rather than Sanders, who actually is clueless about what is a really complex and not precisely clear statutory provision, but a provision that the editorial board members had no understanding of at all.

Clinton’s invoking of that editorial board’s belief that Sanders is confused and clueless—he didn’t do his homework!—is necessarily also a statement that Clinton too is confused and clueless. Either those editorial board members and all the pundits who adopted their line are wrong or both Sanders and Clinton are wrong; she knows this. And Eavis makes clear that what Clinton said about her intentions under Dodd-Frank are seriously weird, implying that she didn’t do her homework or that her homework reading assignment included a suggestion that she repeat the editorial board’s bogus claim that Sanders doesn’t understand this key premise of his campaign.

All the way back on April 5 the day that that interview transcript was released, Eavis in blog post at The Upshot deconstructed the claim that it was Sanders rather than his interviewers that was clueless about Dodd-Frank.  Most pundits, including those at the Times, who commented on the interview presumably didn’t read (and at least one, Nicholas Kristof, still hasn’t read) Eavis’s April 5 post.

Ditto for some straight-news reporters covering the campaigns.  Politico’s Annie Karni, who covers the Clinton campaign but who I mistakenly said in a recent post, covers the Sanders campaign, is a case in point.

Which is understandable, I suppose, since The Upshot is just a blog, and The Times hides Eavis’s work there.

But the real purpose of my post was to highlight a major problem with Clinton’s candidacy that Democrats need to recognize: That the fairly widely held view of her as less-than-honest, less-than-trustworthy, and not particularly admirable in character, is not solely the result of relentless, decades-long Republican efforts to portray her that way, nor mainly because of her asinine email mess.  It also is because she consistently goes for the misleading cheap shot in an effort to con voters about, in this campaign, Sanders’ policy proposals or Sanders himself. And that she has no idea that this tactic is counterproductive rather than productive.

I was delighted that one of the questioners at the debate Thursday night—Dana Bash, if I remember right—pointed out her attempt to mislead last week that Vermont is the state from which the most guns come from that are used in crimes in New York state.  That claim is emblematic of the dual problem here that Clinton does this kind of thing regularly and that she thinks it helps her.

The Times today has an editorial online that will be published in tomorrow’s paper that I think pretty clearly is a quickly revised, post-debate draft of what originally was written as an endorsement of Clinton and instead endorses neither Clinton nor Sanders.  Here are the last two paragraphs of it:

Too often, Mrs. Clinton appears defensive in answering legitimate inquiries, for which she should have sound answers. This tendency has led to some errors and has prevented her from correcting others. Her decision to use a private server for her government emails was a lapse in judgment that she has yet to explain convincingly. Criticism of her lucrative speeches to Wall Street is also legitimate. She could easily deprive Mr. Sanders of one of his strongest points if she simply released the transcripts, instead of concocting absurd reasons not to. [Link in original.]

The breadth of experience that Mrs. Clinton — former first lady, senator from New York and secretary of state — would bring to the presidency is impressive and rare. But as tough as this long fight with Mr. Sanders has been, a tougher challenge could lie ahead: appealing to younger Democrats and resolving doubts about her forthrightness and her policies. She will need to do both if she is to stake a clear claim to the White House.

Watching that debate Thursday night, a majority of the Times editorial board members finally got the essence of the problem with Clinton’s campaign: It’s Clinton herself.  My hope, since she almost certainly will be the nominee, is that someone high up in her campaign also gets it and gets that maybe if it is explained to her and illustrated to her that her misrepresentations and incessant sleight-of-hand gimmicks in addressing Sanders and things related to him are reinforcing the belief among so many voters that she’s slimy and that she will say almost anything to win an election, she will finally get this herself.

Democrats are fooling themselves if they think this is trivial.

Added 4/16 at 1:35 p.m.  Addition re Karni inserted 4/16 at 2:15 p.m.

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Would you want Hillary Clinton as your home-mortgage broker? (This is a serious question, although it has nothing to do with actual mortgages. I don’t think.)

As for Clinton herself, her bandwagon-jumping nature is a big reason why so many people dislike her.  But in this instance there was the additional element of dishonesty: she knew that Sanders rather than the editorial board members had it right about what Dodd-Frank provides. She had said so publicly, recently, in a statement in which she also said she had said that before.

I added an addendum to my Thursday post, on a different matter—but it’s really part and parcel of the same one: The New York Times fact check blog had fact checked a recent statement of Clinton’s in which she said she “couldn’t believe” it when she learned that Sanders was opposing the recent Paris climate-change agreement.  Her intended implication of course was that Sanders thinks the agreement goes too far.   Both the statement itself and the intended implication were false.  Sanders supports the agreement as a first step and says much more is needed.

What’s the real story?  What’s she leaving out?  What intended inference is not true?  What connection is she implying that is false?  What word is she parsing or cutely redefining?  Both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are habitual, maybe pathological, liars, so hopefully it won’t matter that, in Clinton, the Democrats will be nominating someone who campaigns like a used-car-salesman cliché.

Why did Paul Krugman and the Washington Post editorial board—both of whom know better—misrepresent that it was Sanders rather than the New York Daily News editorial board that was wrong about what Dodd-Frank provides, and about whether it would be Treasury or instead the financial institutions themselves that would determine the method of paring down?, Me, Apr. 10

At the end of that post I said it would be my last on the subject of that New York Daily News executive board interview of Sanders and the punditry’s reaction to it.  And it will be.  That first paragraph above is about that, but this post is not.  It is instead about the matter discussed in the second paragraph above, and about a new comment by Clinton, this one as part of a gun violence panel in New York City on Monday.

They both are illustrative of a weird, routine campaign technique of Clinton’s, one that I’ve noted in several posts since last summer, that I’m pretty sure are playing a fairly large role in Clinton’s inability to shake the widespread impression that she’s not honest, not trustworthy.  And her failure to overcome a distaste for her among large swaths of progressives.  Her sleight-of-hand misrepresentations about a statement or past or present policy position of Sanders’s, or a fact supposedly related to one, via two sentences, one immediately following the other or separated by another sentence or two, intended to impart a misstatement of fact.  She has done this now repeatedly in the last six months or so.

In the one I referenced above about the Paris Climate accord, the NYT Fact Checks of the 2016 Election blog’s Thomas Kaplan wrote:

Discussing climate change on Monday, Mrs. Clinton cited her “very vigorous record” on the subject. Then she proceeded to express bafflement about a stance she said her opponent had taken.

“I couldn’t believe it when Senator Sanders opposed the Paris agreement — the best chance we have to actually reverse climate change and deal with the consequences,” Mrs. Clinton said in an interview on “Capital Tonight,” an upstate New York cable news show.

The Paris agreement, reached in December, commits nearly every nation to take action to combat climate change. Given that Mr. Sanders has made climate change a major issue in his campaign, his supposed opposition would indeed seem odd.

But Mrs. Clinton’s characterization was misleading.

It is true that Mr. Sanders did not warmly embrace the Paris agreement. But his lack of enthusiasm was for the opposite reason that Mrs. Clinton suggested.

“While this is a step forward, it goes nowhere near far enough,” Mr. Sanders said in a statement in December. “The planet is in crisis. We need bold action in the very near future and this does not provide that.”

Clinton’s statement that Sanders opposed the agreement is false.  And since her comments clearly were intended to indicate that she is more supportive than Sanders of attempts to address climate change through international agreements (much more, actually), and therefore more supportive of attacking climate change, period, the statement indicated clearly, yet did not expressly say, that Sanders opposes the Paris accord because it is too strong.  Sanders, as Kaplan states, both supports the agreement and thinks it doesn’t go far enough, and (presumably) wants further accords.

Taking Clinton at her word in light of Sanders’s actual statement about the accord—as I hope Sanders does at tomorrow’s debate or the next time he discusses the issue of climate change—what Clinton said is that she can’t believe it that Sanders thinks the Paris accord isn’t the end-all-and-be-all of international climate change, and that he hopes there are additional international accords that will strengthen and broaden the Paris one.   She couldn’t believe it—her own words—presumably because she herself thinks the Paris accord is sufficient and cannot be improved upon because no improvement is necessary.  That’s the only other possible meaning of her statement.  Right?

Sanders should pick up that ball and run with it.

The new edition to this log of misrepresentations-by-cutely-placed-irrelevant-fact-plus-skillful-omission-of-a-relevant-one—specifically, her comments at the gun violence panel on Monday—did not include an actual false fact.  Instead it featured an irrelevant fact highlighted in a several-sentence statement strongly suggesting that the fact meant something meaningful—a Clinton specialty, perfected to a science based on the recognition that people reflexively presume that the central stated fact is stated and highlighted because it is relevant.  Which is proving to be a reflex that should be resisted when listening to Hillary Clinton.

The statement of fact by Hillary Clinton was fact-checked by Washington Post Fact Checker blogger Michelle Ye Hee Lee fact-checked.  This what Lee fact-checked:

“[Sanders] frequently says, ‘We’re a small, rural state, we have no gun laws.’ Here’s what I want you to know. Most of the guns that are used in crimes and violence and killings in New York come from out of state. And the state that has the highest per capita number of those guns that end up committing crimes in New York come from Vermont. So this is not, ‘Oh I live in a rural state we don’t have any of these problems.’ This is, you know what, it’s easy to cross borders. Criminals, domestic abusers, traffickers, people who are dangerously ill, they cross borders too. And sometimes they do it to get the guns they use.”

— Hillary Clinton, panel on gun violence, April 11, 2016

Lee’s post is lengthy, but here are the last several paragraphs:

We don’t dispute that there are guns tied to crime in New York that originated from Vermont. Every state had at least some dozen traced guns originating from it in 2014. But it’s important to keep these numbers in context.

In 2014, guns from 10 states comprised 56 percent of all traced guns, ATF data show. The top 10 source states, in order from highest to lowest, were: California, Florida, Texas, Georgia, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Arizona and Indiana.

Vermont ranked 49th behind Hawaii in raw figures among all source states in 2014, ATF data show. As a percentage of population, Vermont ranked 40th among all source states, at 31 guns per 100,000 people.

The Pinocchio Test

Vermont does provide the highest per capita number of guns tied to crimes in New York. This point resonated with audience members, who gasped when she told them this factoid. But as much as the Clinton campaign may want to blame Sanders or his home state for the guns in New York, this is a misleading data point.

The per capita calculation is skewed by Vermont’s small population (55 guns out of 626,562 people, or 8.78 guns per 100,000 people). When it comes to gun trafficking between states, the raw numbers indicate the actual volume of guns flowing out of a state, and the prevalence of dealers who may be selling guns that are tied to crime. If you take out the 55 Vermont-originated guns from all crime guns that came from outside of New York, the number of crime guns in 2014 would decrease to 2,556 from 2,611. That’s how much impact the flow of crime guns from Vermont has on the volume of crime guns in New York.

The number of crime guns in New York from Vermont is so small that it could even be attributed to one or two bad actors. Using the per capita measure of trafficked guns originating from Vermont is as pointless as counting guns trafficked per 100,000 head of cattle.

We wavered between Two and Three Pinocchios. Clinton has carefully crafted her talking point to find the particular government data that support her point, which gives a wildly different view than how trafficking flows are tracked. We do not find the per capita measure as a fair assessment of gun flows from Vermont into New York. The difference between this point using per capita calculation and the raw number (1 percent of crime guns with source states identified in 2014 came from Vermont) is so stark that it creates a significantly misleading impression to the public. Those factors tip to Three Pinocchios.

Three Pinocchios

Elsewhere in that article or in another one I read, it is noted that the comment drew gasps from the audience, indicating Clinton’s success at suggesting that the statistic she was citing matters.  Meaning almost certainly that most audience members thought, as she surely intended, that as a percentage of population, Vermont ranked 1st among all source states as the source of all traced guns involved in crimes in New York state. But it was not first; it was 40th, according to Lee.

It’s asinine.  And in any event it sure would be interesting to ask some members of that audience whether they understood what statistic Clinton actually was talking about: 55 guns originating in Vermont and used in crimes in New York State in 2014, without which there would have been 2,556 rather than 2,611 guns originating from out-of-state that were used in crimes in New York state that year.

Quoting myself in the Comments thread to my Apr. 7 post about Clinton’s parroting of the punditry’s take on the part of that editorial board’s interview of Sanders concerning the breadth of Dodd-Frank vis-à-vis ‘systemically important’ financial institutions notwithstanding her statements directly to the contrary during the February debate and earlier in the campaign, I wrote in my Aug. 10 post, the one from which I excerpted the opening paragraphs of this post:

Clinton did her usual thing: Someone fed her a line and she parroted it. I hope that at the debate on Thursday Sanders hangs this one around her neck. and tightens the noose until she gets that she needs to stop that tactic–even if she needs methadone to help her break the habit.

That applies as well to her irrelevant-fact-plus-skillful-omission-of-a-relevant-one method of misrepresentation of fact, but I doubt that methadone or anything else will help her quit, because she apparently thinks it’s effective.  Which it is; these statements gain media attention, are fact checked, and shown to be deliberately implicit misrepresentations, cutting yet deeper into her credibility for voters.

No one wants to feel like they’re dealing with a slippery car salesperson or a pre-Crash mortgage broker.  No one wants to always have to presume that if she’s talking about her opponent she’s as likely to be misleading in her statements as not.

Since credibility is not the forte of Trump, Cruz, Paul Ryan or anyone else the Republicans plausibly will nominate, either, this won’t be the problem that it would otherwise be.  But really, what’s the purpose?  Maybe it really is like heroin for her.

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Paul Krugman Retracts a Key Part of Last Friday’s ‘Sanders Over the Edge’ Op-ed: That Sanders, rather than the New York Daily News editorial board members, don’t know what Dodd-Frank authorizes the federal government to do concerning ‘systemically important’ (a.k.a., too-big-to-fail) financial institutions. Good for him.

Which brings us to Snoopy, who has, for reasons I don’t fully understand, long been the emblem of the insurance giant MetLife.

“At the end of 2014 the regulators designated MetLife, whose business extends far beyond individual life insurance, a systemically important financial institution. Other firms faced with this designation have tried to get out by changing their business models. For example, General Electric, which had become more about finance than about manufacturing, has sold off much of its finance business. But MetLife went to court. And it has won a favorable ruling from Rosemary Collyer, a Federal District Court judge.

It was a peculiar ruling. Judge Collyer repeatedly complained that the regulators had failed to do a cost­benefit analysis, which the law doesn’t say they should do, and for good reason. Financial crises are, after all, rare but drastic events; it’s unreasonable to expect regulators to game out in advance just how likely the next crisis is, or how it might play out, before imposing prudential standards. To demand that officials quantify the unquantifiable would, in effect, establish a strong presumption against any kind of protective measures.

Of course, that’s what financial firms want. Conservatives like to pretend that the “systemically important” designation is actually a privilege, a guarantee that firms will be bailed out. Back in 2012 Mitt Romney described this part of reform as “a kiss that’s been given to New York banks” (they never miss an opportunity to sneer at this city, do they?), an “enormous boon for them.” Strange to say, however, firms are doing all they can to dodge this “boon” — and MetLife’s stock rose sharply when the ruling came down.

The federal government will appeal the MetLife ruling, but even if it wins the ruling may open the floodgates to a wave of challenges to financial reform. And that’s the sense in which Snoopy may be setting us up for future disaster.

It doesn’t have to happen. As with so much else, this year’s election is crucial. A Democrat in the White House would enforce the spirit as well as the letter of reform — and would also appoint judges sympathetic to that endeavor. A Republican, any Republican, would make every effort to undermine reform, even if he didn’t manage an explicit repeal.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying that the 2010 financial reform was enough. The next crisis might come even if it remains intact. But the odds of crisis will be a lot higher if it falls apart.

Snoopy the Destroyer, Paul Krugman, New York Times, today

I posted here twice in the last few days about the stunningly bungled political commentary about the New York Daily News editorial board interview of Sanders, a transcript of which that paper released last Tuesday.  The second of my two posts was titled:

Why did Paul Krugman and the Washington Post editorial board—both of whom know better—misrepresent that it was Sanders rather than the New York Daily News editorial board that was wrong about what Dodd-Frank provides, and about whether it would be Treasury or instead the financial institutions themselves that would determine the method of paring down?

In today’s op-ed Krugman has retracted that allegation against Sanders in his op-ed from last Friday.  But what prompted the retraction—and especially the timing of it—is itself important: The federal judge’s opinion in the MetLife case was issued on March 30, the news reports about it were published mostly on March 31, and the New York Times published a critical editorial on it on Apr. 4, the day of the New York Daily News editorial board’s interview of Sanders.

A significant part of the media-criticism frenzy of Sanders for saying that he was unsure about the extent to which Dodd-Frank authorizes the federal government to determine that a financial institution is systemically so important because of its size that it must be pared down concerned questions about that opinion, by that one federal judge, issued less than a week earlier and containing some strange and unexpected—and inaccurate—statements about the relevant part of that statute.

Apparently on the ground that Sanders by then should have read the opinion and discussed it in detail with legal and finance-industry experts, the New York Daily News editorial board and most of the mainstream political analysts and pundits who opted to weigh in on it did so with the verdict that Sanders does not know much about this signature issue of his.  Or maybe it was just on the ground that no politician should ever, regardless of the circumstances, say he or she does not know something, does not know enough yet about a new development or about an obscure fact, point or event, or hasn’t thought through something in particular—or maybe everything in particular—and that any politician is, according to the prevalent assembly-line political-journalist guidelines, is toast.

And Hillary Clinton, who at a televised debate two months earlier had said the very opposite of what the New York Daily News editorial board and its journalist parrots were saying about that exchange between the editorial board and Sanders, and emphasized that she had made the same point earlier in the campaign—specifically, about Dodd-Frank, what it authorizes, and how clear those provisions and their breadth are—herself parroted that take.  With no indication of irony.

The first of my two posts on that interview and its aftermath was titled:

Clinton admits she failed to do her homework, and therefore misunderstood, when she stated at the February debate that Dodd-Frank already authorizes the Treasury Dept. to force too-big-to-fail banks to pare down and that therefore no further legislation authorizing it is necessary.  That’s quite an admission by her, and the New York Daily News editorial board (and the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza) should take note.

This will be my last post on that editorial board interview and the punditry’s reaction to it.  Gratefully.

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CORRECTION: The second-last paragraph in the excerpt from Krugman’s column that opens this post somehow ended up with a really big cut-and-paste error in it as I posted it there. Someone I don’t know emailed me and told me about the error.  I’m very grateful.  Apologies to Paul Krugman.  I didn’t do that on purpose.  Although next time he writes something nasty about Bernie, I might.

Added 4/11 at 8:41 p.m. 

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Why did Paul Krugman and the Washington Post editorial board—both of whom know better—misrepresent that it was Sanders rather than the New York Daily News editorial board that was wrong about what Dodd-Frank provides, and about whether it would be Treasury or instead the financial institutions themselves that would determine the method of paring down?

As Dean Baker and several (mostly) alternative-media and hobbyist bloggers—including actual experts on Dodd-Frank and on financial-institution governance—have noted since the New York Daily News editorial board released a transcript last Tuesday of its interview with Bernie Sanders, it was not Sanders but instead members of that editorial board who were deeply confused about what Dodd-Frank actually provides.  Specifically, about whether that law grant’s the federal government authority to determine that a financial institution is so large that its sheer size poses a systemic risk to this country’s economy.

And also specifically, about whether experts within the finance industry and the Treasury Dept., and economists, think the method of any such government-mandated paring down of a financial institution—absent enactment of the Glass-Steagall-like law—should be devised by Treasury of the Fed of instead by the financial institutions themselves.

And also about whether none other than Hillary Clinton, their candidate of choice, had said during this campaign something along the lines of:

We now have power under the Dodd-Frank legislation to break up banks. And I’ve said I will use that power if they pose a systemic risk.

Which, it has been pointed out since now since Wednesday when Clinton joined the chorus of those saying that Sanders in that interview had demonstrated a lack of basic knowledge, thoughtfulness and competence about this signature issue of his, Clinton herself at last February’s debate in fact said exactly:

We now have power under the Dodd-Frank legislation to break up banks. And I’ve said I will use that power if they pose a systemic risk.

Leading me to post this here at AB on Thursday.  It’s titled:

Clinton admits she failed to do her homework, and therefore misunderstood, when she stated at the February debate that Dodd-Frank already authorizes the Treasury Dept. to force too-big-to-fail banks to pare down and that therefore no further legislation authorizing it is necessary.  That’s quite an admission by her, and the New York Daily News editorial board (and the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza) should take note.

Which drew some blowback in the Comments thread from a couple of fellow progressives, including their insistence that Clinton did not admit that she failed to do her homework before February’s debate and therefore misunderstood, like she now says Sanders does, what Dodd-Frank actually provides.

Which in turn drew blowback from me.  Specifically:

Clinton’s statement that Sanders is incorrect that under Dodd-Frank the Treasury Dept. does have the authority to declare particular financial institutions so large that a failure of that institution would create significant danger to the economy or to the broader financial industry and therefore to the economy, and therefore would effectively require a federal bailout, is EXACTLY a reversal of what she said at that February debate when fending off Sanders’s suggestion that additional legislation is needed.

So she either was right at the February debate or she was right this week in her comments about Sanders’s interview with that editorial board, but the statements, two months apart, are mutually exclusive. Since the February one matched Sanders’s statements to the editorial board, her comment that Sanders was wrong and would know this had he done his homework sometime during the 11 months since he began his campaign, she did indeed say by necessary implication that she was mistaken in that statement at the February debate, and that had she done her homework she would have known that.

Clinton is not making the issue of NOT proposing further legislation on too-big-to-fail, but in resisting proposals for further legislation, she sure has made her claim that there is no need for it because Dodd-Frank already takes care of the problem a part of her defense against Sanders’s candidacy.

Further, since apparently there is nothing in Dodd-Frank that authorizes, much less requires, the Treasury Dept. to actually take over the financial institution and break it up, or to dictate how exactly it would be broken up, but does apparently give Treasury the authority to determine that a bank must pare down to a specified size—Clinton was right in February, and Sanders was right in his interview with that editorial board, according to Stephen F. Diamond, an actual expert on Dodd-Frank who both teaches the subject at Santa Clara Law School and advises on it in private practice—the claim by most of the news media and also by Clinton that Sanders’s statement that this is so is exactly what those folks are claiming Sanders’s statement was: wrong as a matter of fact, and indicative of a failure to do homework on the subject. Or, in Paul Krugman’s case in his op-ed piece yesterday, a deliberate misstatement. (I assume that Krugman is sufficiently familiar with Dodd-Frank to know that, although—who knows? – maybe not.)

Diamond had a lengthy post on his own blog on Thursday titled “Don’t blame Bernie – of course the banks can be broken up”, (Dan here…link corrected) which I learned of because Naked Capital posted its title and link immediately about its post of the title of and link for this post of mine.  I clicked the pingback link, saw my post listed, and saw Diamond’s immediately above mine.

The first four paragraphs read:

“In a recent interview, a very confused New York Daily News reporter continually mixed up the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve in the face of a very straightforward statement of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders that Congress can give the President power to impose changes on the structure of the financial system “under Dodd Frank.”

“Well, the Treasury is an agency of the executive branch while the Federal Reserve is an independent hybrid public-private entity. The former is an extension of the power of the President while the latter has autonomy that limits, understandably, Presidential influence. Apparently in the minds of financial journalists the two entities can be conflated without consequence.

“Sure enough Secretary Clinton jumped on the bandwagon and slyly and indirectly suggested on Morning Joe that Bernie Sanders does not “seem” to know enough about how the economy works to be qualified as president.

“Now that we have cleared up the fact that it was the Daily News reporter who was confused not Sanders, let’s focus on the agency that a President does control, the Treasury. When Sanders said he wanted to use Dodd-Frank to break up the big banks one could consider that from two angles. First, does the current language of that law enable the federal government to break up the banks; and second, could Dodd-Frank be amended to give the federal government the power it needs to break up the banks. Since Sanders talked about going to Congress to empower the government to break up the banks it seems reasonable to conclude he means the latter, second method. But he is taking the view that any such amendment would be consistent with Dodd-Frank, a necessary extension consistent with the spirit of what Congress intended to do.”

Clinton did her usual thing: Someone fed her a line and she parroted it. I hope that at the debate on Thursday Sanders hangs this one around her neck. and tightens the noose until she gets that she needs to stop that tactic–even if she needs methadone to help her break the habit.

And, in response to a response:

Clinton said at the Feb. debate: ““We now have power under the Dodd-Frank legislation to break up banks. And I’ve said I will use that power if they pose a systemic risk.”  What can that possibly mean other than that she thought then—or was saying that she thought then, even if she did not think then—that the federal government now has power under the Dodd-Frank legislation to break up banks.   And since she said “And I’ve said I will use that power if they pose a systemic risk,” this presumably was not the first time she said that.

So she said, then and presumably earlier, that she will use that power if they pose a systemic risk.  How so? What exactly did she have in mind then?  And how exactly did she plan to exercise that power?   Did she plan then to have the Treasury Dept. dictate how each bank must pare down?  Or did she plan, as Sanders told that editorial board he would, to allow each bank to determine it, maybe with the assistance and recommendations of the experts at Treasury?

This was not merely a flip-flop by her last week; this was a statement by her that Sanders did not know what he was talking about on an issue critical to his campaign.  She’s now retracted her own earlier statements—the one during the Feb. debate and the earlier ones she was referring to in that comment at the Feb. debate—and doing so by parroting journalists who clearly have no idea what Dodd-Frank actually contains and what the actual experts suggest would be the best way to have these banks pare down (a method the banks choose or instead a method that Treasury chooses).  Did she herself not know what she was talking about when she made those earlier statements?  And what exactly are her plans?  And if she now believes that Dodd-Frank does not confer that power, does she think further legislation should do so—as Sanders has proposed?

Some of the journalists and political commentators who jumped on this bandwagon—Paul Krugman and the Washington Post editorial board, for example—do know that it was not Sanders but the New York Daily News editorial board who was clueless. Yet they chose to misrepresent—outright misrepresent—that Sanders was wrong about Dodd-Frank, the role of the Treasury Dept., and the role of the Fed, as well as the actual mechanism that would be used in paring down these financial institutions: it would be the institutions, not the Treasury or the Fed., that would structure it.

Some excellent political journalists, such as Annie Karni, who covers the Sanders campaign for Politico even late last week in reporting on Sanders referenced the NYDN editorial board interview with a comment that Sanders seemed to lack specifics about this signature issue of his (or some such).  But she and the others were just picking up what the political-opinion journalists were saying.  The editorial and op-ed folks who know the specifics of this issue quite well abuse their positions when they misstate the facts of actual legislation (e.g., Dodd-Frank) or expert policy consensus (e.g., who should determine how to restructure).  And before they again accuse Sanders of dishonesty (as Krugman does in that op-ed), they should look in the mirror.  And at their chosen candidate.

As for Clinton herself, her bandwagon-jumping nature is a big reason why so many people dislike her.  But in this instance there was the additional element of dishonesty: she knew that Sanders rather than the editorial board members had it right about what Dodd-Frank provides. She had said so publicly, recently, in a statement in which she also said she had said that before.

I added an addendum to my Thursday post, on a different matter—but it’s really part and parcel of the same one: The New York Times fact check blog had fact checked a recent statement of Clinton’s in which she said she “couldn’t believe” it when she learned that Sanders was opposing the recent Paris climate-change agreement.  Her intended implication of course was that Sanders thinks the agreement goes too far.   Both the statement itself and the intended implication were false.  Sanders supports the agreement as a first step and says much more is needed.

What’s the real story?  What’s she leaving out?  What intended inference is not true?  What connection is she implying that is false?  What word is she parsing or cutely redefining?  Both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are habitual, maybe pathological, liars, so hopefully it won’t matter that, in Clinton, the Democrats will be nominating someone who campaigns like a used-car-salesman cliché.

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Clinton admits she failed to do her homework, and therefore misunderstood, when she stated at the February debate that Dodd-Frank already authorizes the Treasury Dept. to force too-big-to-fail banks to pare down and that therefore no further legislation authorizing it is necessary. That’s quite an admission by her, and the New York Daily News editorial board (and the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza) should take note.

A notion is rapidly crystallizing among the national media that Bernie Sanders majorly bungled an interview with the editorial board of the New York Daily News.His rival, Hillary Clinton, has even sent a transcript of the interview to supporters as part of a fundraising push. A close look at that transcript, though, suggests the media may be getting worked up over nothing.

In fact, in several instances, it’s the Daily News editors who are bungling the facts in an interview designed to show that Sanders doesn’t understand the fine points of policy. In questions about breaking up big banks, the powers of the Treasury Department and drone strikes, the editors were simply wrong on details.

Take the exchange getting the most attention: Sanders’ supposed inability to describe exactly how he would break up the biggest banks. Sanders said that if the Treasury Department deemed it necessary to do so, the bank would go about unwinding itself as it best saw fit to get to a size that the administration considered no longer a systemic risk to the economy. Sanders said this could be done with new legislation, or through administrative authority under Dodd-Frank.

This is true, as economist Dean BakerPeter Eavis at The New York Times, and HuffPost’s Zach Carter in a Twitter rant have all pointed out. It’s also the position of Clinton herself. “We now have power under the Dodd-Frank legislation to break up banks. And I’ve said I will use that power if they pose a systemic risk,” Clinton said at a February debate. No media outcry followed her assertion, because it was true.

As the interview went on, though, it began to appear that the Daily News editors didn’t understand the difference between the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve. Follow in the transcript how Sanders kept referring to the authority of the administration and the Treasury Department through Dodd-Frank, known as Wall Street reform, while the Daily News editors shifted to the Fed.

Did Bernie Sanders Botch An Interview With The Daily News? It’s Not That Simple., Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief at The Huffington Post, yesterday

The subtitle of Grim’s article isThe interview exposes as much about the media as it does about Bernie Sanders.”  And indeed it does.  It exposes this particular editorials board as profoundly ignorant about virtually every subject the interview addressed—not just the specifics of Dodd-Frank but (astonishingly) also about this country’s decades-long position on Israel’s policy regarding new settlements in occupied Palestinian territories and also on the general nature and legal effect of treaties and United Nations resolutions pertaining to them, and a few other things.

It also exposes the board members as high-school-amateurish, not just as journalists but as, well, people.  Not just in the adolescent questions they asked but also in their mysterious inability to follow their own questions, which on the banking issue they were unable to recall from one question to the next whether they were asking about current law (Dodd-Frank) or instead about possible new legislation.  Not to mention, although Grim did, their failure to distinguish between the role of the Fed and the role of the Treasury Dept. on this issue under Dodd-Frank.

And it exposes a slew of other mainstream-media political analysts as just ridiculous.  But particularly, it exposes the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, the chemist who started the crystallization shortly after the Daily News released a transcript of the interview, for what he is: a robot, or maybe a computer, whose algorithms are programmed to forecast specific public reactions to certain words, phrases or clauses uttered by politicians in interviews, debates or off-hand responses to a reporter or to a voter at, say, a town hall-type campaign appearance. “I don’t know the answer to that,” or “I haven’t thought much about it,” or “the banks should be allowed to determine what means they will use to pare down in accord with banking-regulation edict” or “I can’t provide the specific citation to the fraud statute in the federal Criminal Code” are definite career destroyers.*  Or at least presidential candidacy destroyers.

And since Cillizza is highly regarded among mainstream political analysts who themselves lack those algorithms and must get by with baas, Clinton had a ball she thought she could pick up and run with.  So, interviewed yesterday morning on “Morning Joe” yesterday, and asked about Sanders’ responses to the Daily News editorial board members’ too-big-to-fail questions, she had a script prepared not by her consultants but by Cillizza, et al., that included this:

I think he hadn’t done his homework and he’d been talking for more than a year about doing things that he obviously hadn’t really studied or understood, and that does raise a lot of questions.

She went on to question whether Sanders was qualified to be president.

So the Daily News interview debacle serves handily also to highlight what’s wrong with Clinton.  Characteristically, she echoed a statement by members of that editorial board that she knew was false and also alluded to Sanders’ befuddlement (incredulousness, really) at other misstatements of fact by the editorial board members—it hasn’t been U.S. policy, for decades, to insist that as part of a two-state solution brokered by the White House or State Dept., Israel must withdraw its West Bank settlements on certain specific lands?—as disqualifying Sanders as a presidential candidate.

Grim’s piece links to the RealClear Politics headline from February 4, posted shortly after the February debate, headlined “Clinton Agrees With Sanders: ‘We Now Have Power Under Dodd-­Frank To Break Up Big Banks’”.  The article links to videotape.  Clinton said, “We now have power under the Dodd-Frank legislation to break up banks. And I’ve said I will use that power if they pose a systemic risk. ”

So Clinton failed to do her homework, either before that debate in February or before that “Morning Joe” interview yesterday.  And that does raise a lot of questions.  A lot of questions.  Which presumably the New York Daily News editorial board will seek answers to when they interview her.

The aforementioned post by Peter Eavis, in the New York Times blog The Upshot on Tuesday, is titled “Yes, Bernie Sanders Knows Something About Breaking Up Banks.”  Time to find out whether Hillary Clinton does.

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*These aren’t actually direct quotes. They’re my paraphrases.

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ADDENDUM: This is an entry posted yesterday at the New York Times Fact Checks of the 2016 Election blog:

Discussing climate change on Monday, Mrs. Clinton cited her “very vigorous record” on the subject. Then she proceeded to express bafflement about a stance she said her opponent had taken.

“I couldn’t believe it when Senator Sanders opposed the Paris agreement — the best chance we have to actually reverse climate change and deal with the consequences,” Mrs. Clinton said in an interview on “Capital Tonight,” an upstate New York cable news show.

The Paris agreement, reached in December, commits nearly every nation to take action to combat climate change. Given that Mr. Sanders has made climate change a major issue in his campaign, his supposed opposition would indeed seem odd.

But Mrs. Clinton’s characterization was misleading.

It is true that Mr. Sanders did not warmly embrace the Paris agreement. But his lack of enthusiasm was for the opposite reason that Mrs. Clinton suggested.

“While this is a step forward, it goes nowhere near far enough,” Mr. Sanders said in a statement in December. “The planet is in crisis. We need bold action in the very near future and this does not provide that.”

— Thomas Kaplan

So Clinton doesn’t believe her own hallucination.  She just wants Democratic primary voters to.

Then again, maybe she really can’t distinguish between a lament by someone that something doesn’t go far enough or isn’t strong enough and one that objects that the thing goes too far or is too strong.  This seems to be a recurring type of confusion for her.  So she may not be faking it after all.  Maybe she really can’t tell the difference.

Addendum added 4/7 at 8:35 p.m.

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Oh, Dear.

[GLENN] THRUSH: When [Sanders] puts his head on a pillow at night, do you think he goes to sleep a Democrat?

CLINTON: [Laughs] Well, I can’t answer that, Glenn, because he’s a relatively new Democrat, and, in fact, I’m not even sure he is one. He’s running as one. So I don’t know quite how to characterize him. I’ll leave that to him. But I know there’s a big difference between Democrats and Republicans, and I know that Senator Sanders spends a lot of time attacking my husband, attacking President Obama, you know, calling President Obama weak and disappointing.

Transcript of Politico’s Glenn Thrush interviewing Clinton, published today

Okay, so Clinton knows there’s a big difference between Democrats and Republicans, and she knows that Senator Sanders spends a lot of time attacking Clinton’s husband, attacking President Obama, you know, calling President Obama weak and disappointing.

But she doesn’t know that Sanders’s attacks on her husband’s, and on Obama’s, presidencies are that their policies were not different enough from Republicans’.  She thinks instead that Sanders’ criticisms of the Clinton and Obama administrations are that those administrations’ policies were and are too different from Republican policies.  Sanders’s complaint, she says, is that they gave too few concessions to the Republicans, and resisted Republicans too much. Obama has been too weak to resist Democrats’ pressures to cave to Republicans more.  He gave into the Democrats–who wanted less resistance to the RepublicansClinton says Sanders thinks, and Sanders is disappointed at Obama about that; he wanted Obama to rubber stamp the Republicans’ proposals, just as all the other Democrats wanted him to do.

I’ll take her at her word that she thinks this.

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The Problem That Clinton Should See and Solve: Her misconception of what, for a huge number of voters, this year’s presidential campaign is about

And for me, it’s all about getting results. When I joined with parents and doctors and community leaders to take on the epidemic of children’s asthma right here in Harlem, it wasn’t about making a point; it was about making a difference.

— Hillary Clinton, speaking at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, Mar. 30

When I read that quote last week in an article about that speech, my first thought was: Why is Clinton suggesting that as president, Sanders wouldn’t work with the Centers for Disease Control to address a public medical issue?  My second thought was: Why is she insinuating that Sanders hasn’t attended to the needs of his constituents as an elected official?

Regarding the second of those questions, the Sanders campaign subtly responded to it a day or two later by posting a Facebook note detailing an affordable housing program that as mayor of Burlington he pushed through the city council and that is still in effect and working well.  (The link is to a Jan. 19, 2016 Slate article about the program.)

And I myself remembered a brief controversy several months ago ignited when a super PAC supporting Clinton decided to remind the public that when the price of home heating oil surged in 2005 because of major disruptions to oil refinery production in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, Sanders participated in arranging with Venezuelan leader and Communist Hugo Chavez to get free heating oil to New England as a stopgap. (Actually, the super PAC claimed that Sanders did this alone.  But, it quickly was reported elsewhere after the super PAC published its claims, Sanders neither originated the idea nor acted alone.  He was part of group of about a dozen members of Congress representing Northeastern states that rely heavily on oil to provide heating for homes and businesses.)

A staple of Clinton’s campaign has been deliberate misrepresentation about Sanders’s policy proposals and the specifics of Sanders’s votes as a member of Congress.  But another, and more harmful to her, is her slogans and sleights of hand that suggest that she mistakes what this election is about for a vast number of voters.  Clinton repeatedly says she’s a progressive who wants to get things done.  But the things she wants done, the results she wants, as opposed to the things she doesn’t, matterA lot.  To a lot of voters.  She incessantly indicates that she doesn’t get that.

Taking on the epidemic of children’s asthma in Harlem wasn’t about making a point.  But neither was making affordable, decent housing available in Burlington, Vermont.  Nor was enabling millions of Northeasterners to obtain enough heating oil to heat their homes and businesses during a refinery crisis in 2005-06.

So, why the non sequitur?

Clinton conflates competent government with truly progressive government.  Sanders supporters want both and think both are possible.  Clinton claims to be a problem-solver, someone who sees problems and solves them.  But her view of what the problems that need solving are are fairly limited, her solutions more mundane than Sanders’s but not much more likely to get done under the current political status quo.  And the sheer vapidity, the silliness, the non sequitur or sleight-of-hand quality, of so many of her slogans and comments is disquieting.  To many progressives anyway.

(Remember her claim back about two months ago that only Sanders would think she, a woman running to be the first woman president, is a member of the establishment?  That everyone else knows that as the first serious female candidate for president she couldn’t, by definition of establishment, be a member of it?  As if the desire for a nominee not so thoroughly entrenched among the wealthiest and most powerful people in the country is something to be cutely toyed with?  Not to mention casually toying with the common understanding of an English-language term?)

The Sanders campaign isn’t about making a point.  Other than this one: that Clinton is out of step with this political moment.  She shouldn’t keep making that point for him by saying that his goal is to make a point.

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An interesting coincidence: Cruz beat Trump and Sanders beat Clinton in Wisconsin by identical percentages

Each won by 13.2%.

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UPDATE: I posted his when 99% of the vote in each primary was counted.  Now, with 100% in both primaries counted, Cruz’s victory margin remains at 13.2%.  Sanders’s is 13.3%.

Added 4/6 at 10:32 a.m.

 

 

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