This election just seems to get weirder and weirder. On the heels of her praise and then unpraise for Nancy Reagan on AIDS, Hillary Clinton is again being charged with rewriting history in attacking Bernie Sanders for his absence on the health care fight back in 1993-94. New York Times reporter Amy Chozick quoted Hillary Clinton in a tweet saying, “I don’t know where he was when I was trying to get health care in 93 and 94.” The Sanders campaign quickly responded with a picture showing Sanders standing right next to her and then released another signed picture where she commended him for his work in seeking such national health care coverage at the time. CNN and other media outfits already called out Clinton for the “cheap shot” in falsely suggesting that Sanders did not support the auto bailout. This is not going to help those low trustworthiness numbers plaguing Clinton.
Sanders is shown in this picture at a Dartmouth College event pushing for healthcare reform in 1993 at Dartmouth College and Sanders proposed his own single-payer healthcare plan in March later that year. Then there is this note commending Sanders:
It reads: “To Bernie Sanders with thanks for your commitment to real health care access to all Americans and best wishes.” It is signed “Hillary Rodham Clinton” and dated 1993. Yikes.
Yet, that does not mean it cannot be spinned. Rather than admit a cheap shot, Secretary Clinton’s communications director noted that the picture technically showed Sanders not by her side but behind her: “Hillary Clinton was out in front. Senator Sanders was in the background. She is the one that took the slings and arrows from the healthcare industry.” Now that is an Olympic quality spin.
In the meantime, Sanders supporters are flooding the Internet with videotapes that are calling out Clinton for another alleged misrepresentation.
Notably, Sanders wrote in his book that he did not favor the Clinton approach which he viewed as yielding to demands from outside groups. He wrote “the complicated and compromised bill which they brought forth was not something that I could support.” That would suggest that he was fighting for health care but did not believe that the Clinton proposal went far enough.
The misstep is reminiscent of John Lewis’ highly controversial questioning of Sanders’ work for civil rights. Lewis said he never saw Sanders in the marches. However, Sanders’ supporters released pictures of his being arrested as a student at the University of Chicago and Sanders clearly was on the frontline of the struggle.
On both sides of the election, we have seen these glaring contradictions and false statements. Yet, each candidate seems to have a core of supporters who simply do not care about the allegations of dishonesty or falsity. That is what is so fascinating. It is not the shifting voters but those voters who have shown no desire to shift in the aftermath of scandals or missteps. The problem for Clinton however will be the damage to the Sanders base in later calling for them to join her if she is the nominee. Young people in particular appear to be growing increasingly anti-Hillary and not just pro-Bernie. This type of unfounded attack will hardly make such a reconciliation likely. The young people may just stay home or vote for someone like Jill Stein with the Green Party.
What do you think?