Neither Democratic candidate should be supplying the Republicans with any ammunition that could be useful to the Republicans in the general election. Bernie Sanders last night broke that rule when he said that Hillary Clinton is “not qualified” to be president.
True, he just used that frame to present his usual critiques of Hillary– like her PAC money, and her vote on Iraq. And true, on those criticisms, the Republicans can hardly fault her, as they are further in the direction Sanders decries. The Republicans can just take the “not qualified” and leave out the rest.
True, Sanders seems to have thought that he was simply retaliating against a similar evaluation leveled against him by Secretary Clinton. He began his statement by saying that Clinton “has been saying lately that she thinks that I am ‘not qualified’ to be president.”
The media were quick to point out that Hillary did not exactly say that. She had been asked about whether Bernie is qualified, but she answered more artfully, not explicitly affirming or denying his qualifications but criticizing Sanders for allegedly not doing his “homework” on his major issue about breaking up the banks.
True, Clinton’s critique on Sanders seems to be piggy-backing on some poor journalism by the New York Daily News, where an interview that was taken to show that Sanders did not know what he was talking about showed instead that the interviewers were themselves confused.
And it’s true, that even if Hillary did not say that Bernie is “not qualified,” another piece of poor journalism conveyed the impression that she had said that. The Washington Post ran the headline, “Clinton questions whether Sanders is qualified to be president.”
But it is careless for Bernie to respond to the headline the Post used rather than to check what Hillary actually said.
And it is simply wrong to undermine the probable Democratic nominee for president for the general election in a year in which a Republican victory would be a disaster for the nation.
So Bernie should not delay in standing up and taking back what he said, acknowledging that he had allowed himself to be provoked into saying something that he does not really believe.
“Last night I spoke carelessly, in a moment of irritation. It was careless of me to couch my criticism of Secretary Clinton in terms of her ‘qualifications’ for the office. Her qualifications are not in question.
“Of course she is qualified. She has intelligence and the relevant experience beyond the norm for American presidents.
“Both of us have said that we will support whoever the convention nominates, and I would not say that if I did not believe her to be qualified. I unequivocally reaffirm that pledge now, even as I continue to make the case that I should be that nominee.”