Even the major news outlets are calling out Hillary Clinton for bad behavior. This is the editorial board of the New York Times:
Even with a double-digit lead before the primary, she failed to avoid the type of negative tactics that could damage her in the long haul. AÂ new Washington Post-ABC pollÂ says that nationally, Mrs. Clintonâ€™s margin over Bernie Sanders has shrunk: she polls at 49 percent compared with 42 percent for Mr. Sanders; in January her lead was more than double that. If she hopes to unify Democrats as the nominee, trying to tarnish Mr. Sanders as she did in Michigan this week is not the way to go.
Mrs. Clintonâ€™s falsely parsing Mr. Sandersâ€™s Senate vote on a 2008 recession-related bailout bill as abandoning the auto industry rescue hurt her credibility. As soon as she uttered it in Sundayâ€™s debate, the Democratic strategist David Axelrod registered his dismay, tweeting that the Senate vote wasnâ€™t explicitly a vote about saving the auto industry. Even as reporters challenged her claim, she doubled down in ads across the state. As The Washington PostÂ noted, â€œit seems like sheâ€™s willing to take the gamble that fact-checkers may call her out for her tactic Sunday â€” but that voters wonâ€™t.â€
DuringÂ Sunday night’s debate, HRC hit Bernie Sanders with something of a cheap shotâ€”David Axelrod’s term, and mineâ€”regarding the auto bailout. (In merciful brief, Sanders supported a bill bailing out the autoÂ industry as a stand-alone measure. The auto bailout eventually got folded into the release of the second part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program and Sanders voted against that, on the grounds that the Wall Street bailout included in the TARP program lacked sufficient government oversight, which it did.)Â At the time, the argument was considered something of a well-timedÂ coupÂ for the Clinton campaign, blunting Sanders’Â ferocious attacks on Clinton-era trade policies.
But, as I talked to more and more people around Flint, I got the sense that the resonance of the exchange was not what HRC and her campaign thought it would be. The UAW members I talked to clearly considered HRC’s use of the auto bailout against Sanders to be at best a half-truth, and a cynical attempt to win their support, and they were offended by what they saw as a glib attempt to turn the state’s economic devastation into a campaign weapon. These were people who watched the auto industry flee this city and this state, and they knew full well how close the country’s remaining auto industry came to falling apart completely in 2008 and 2009. They knew this issue because they’d lived it, and they saw through what the HRC campaign was trying to do with the issue. I have no data to support how decisive this feeling was in Tuesday night’s returns, but it seems to me to be one of the more interesting examples of unintended consequences that I’d heard in a while.
James Hohmann of the Washington Post writes that Clinton was making downright reckless charges against Sanders in last night’s debate. He sides with “minutemen” militia? He is a tool of the Koch brothers? WTF? You should really read this whole thing.Â I’ll just quote this bit:
By coming at him from all sides, Clintonâ€™s overarching message was mushy and discordant.Â Whatâ€™s so baffling is that Clinton did not need to go this route. Despite Tuesdayâ€™s setback in the Midwest, sheâ€™s marching toward the Democratic nomination. Because of her huge margin in Mississippi, she actually received more delegates. Even if she wanted to attack, a lot of this dirty work is best left to surrogates â€“ or even paid advertising.
I keep saying this is the only way she knows how to campaign, and it reveals something flawed in her character.
Gail Collins: “Hillary Clinton is by far the best qualified candidate for president. But at this point in the campaign, you can understand why some people feel that voting for her against Bernie Sanders is like rewarding Washington for its worst behavior.”
Charles Blow had an interesting observation:
As I have been saying on social media, both Clinton and Sanders had electoral hurdles that they had to clear. Clintonâ€™s was to win by large margins in states not in the Deep South that are reliably Democratic or that are swing states in the general election. Sandersâ€™s hurdle was to demonstrate that he could win in states where the portion of nonwhite Democratic primary voters was greater than a quarter of the whole.
Only one person cleared his hurdle Tuesday: Bernie Sanders.
I said awhile back that if Sanders can survive March, he gets more competitive in the later primaries. March 15 is going to be a hurdle for him. Michigan may have been a fluke, or it may have been a turning point. We’ll see.