I'll be honest. My brain started tuning out last night's Democratic debate after about three innings. The first strikeout came when Bernie was asked if he could name one example of Hillary Clinton changing her vote as a result of a corporate donation. He bungled it big-time. He popped a high fly out into right field, where it hovered in the air harmlessly before plunking smack dab into Hillary's placid, waiting mitt.
DANA BASH (CNN moderator) : Senator Sanders, you have consistently criticized Secretary Clinton for accepting money from Wall Street. Can you name one decision that she made as senator that shows that he favored banks because of the money she received?
SANDERS: Sure. Sure. The obvious decision is when the greed and recklessness and illegal behavior of wall street brought this country into the worst economic downturn since the Great Recession -- the Great Depression of the '30s, when millions of people lost their jobs, and their homes, and their life savings, the obvious response to that is that you've got a bunch of fraudulent operators and that they have got to be broken up.
That was my view way back, and I introduced legislation to do that. Now, Secretary Clinton was busy giving speeches to Goldman Sachs for $225,000 a speech.
SANDERS: So the problem response -- the proper response in my view is we should break them up. And that's what my legislation does.
CLINTON: Well, you can tell, Dana, he cannot come up with any example, because there is no example.
Why didn't he bring up the bankruptcy bill?
When Hillary was first lady, she sided with Elizabeth Warren and got Bill to veto some bank-friendly legislation which would have made it almost impossible for working families to declare personal bankruptcy, largely stemming from medical debt.
When Hillary became New York senator, she did an about-face and in 2001 voted for the bill - immediately after receiving hefty contributions from the same banks and credit card companies which demanded that struggling consumers be kept in onerous debt for the rest of their lives. As Warren wrote in The Two Income Trap:
"The bill was the same, but Hillary Rodham Clinton was not. As First Lady, Mrs. Clinton had been persuaded that the bill was bad for families, and she was willing to fight for her beliefs. Her husband was a lame duck at the time he vetoed the bill; he could afford to forgo future campaign contributions. As New York's newest senator, however, it seems that Hillary Clinton could not afford such a principled position. Campaigns cost money, and that money wasn't coming from families in financial trouble."This was the smoking gun, the quid pro quo that Clinton has always denied exists. It does exist.
Not that political corruption and legalized bribery require a quid pro quo, by any means. Wealthy donors aren't paying for immediate favors. They are investing for the future -- a future of tax exemptions, corporate welfare, and a get out of jail free card with no expiration date.
Bernie was great at the sarcasm and the yelling, but not so great at digging up facts and answering questions directly. He often spoke over the moderators as Hillary just calmly stood there, grim smirk on her face, only occasionally needing to mar her calm demeanor with her trademark derisive cackle.
Both of them are artful dodgers of questions, because both of them are seasoned politicians. Both of them also looked like I feel: tired, cranky, and old. How can't they stand each other? Let us count the ways.
Hillary got knuckle-balled and beaned badly on those Wall Street speeches. She still offers no good explanation for not releasing them because even she, slick fielder that she is, can't come up with one good fake reason for not releasing them. For example, she could have said she lost them the same way she mysteriously misplaced those Rose Law Firm docs all those years ago.
Bernie twisted her into a soggy pretzel over whether she would or would not raise the cap on Social Security FICA contributions. He also did a good job exposing her bloodthirsty Neocon foreign policy (even Obama opposes her suggestion of a no-fly zone over Syria.)
Bernie was supposed to release his 2014 tax returns today, because Jane apparently has finally found the time to log onto TurboTax. He still can't locate earlier returns, though. Like most of us shlubs, I suspect he probably lost his only tattered coffee-stained copies in the circular file.
With Clinton's spit balls and Bernie's unforced errors, the popcorn is beginning to taste a tad stale. But I'll root root root for the Brooklyn homeboy anyhow. If we don't win, what a shame. Then again, if Hillary is allowed to steal home because of a rigged electoral game, she can't very well call it a championship season either. Heads she wins, tails we all lose. The tickets to the Neoliberal Hall of Fame are way out of our price range.
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