Last night, at the Democratic presidential debate in Milwaukee, in the midst of a generic, oh-they're-a-little-different back and forth between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Senator was asked to name two leaders who would influence his foreign policy. A bit predictably, Sanders said FDR and, for wartime rallying of the nation, Churchill. This led to the stupidest fucking moment of the evening, and it was stupid for both candidates.
Sanders' response led Clinton to say, "[T]oday Senator Sanders said that President Obama failed the presidential leadership test. And this is not the first time that he has criticized President Obama. In the past he has called him weak. He has called him a disappointment... it is a -- the kind of criticism that we've heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans. I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama."
The Rude Pundit's immediate response was "Fucking really?" Has Clinton heard what the Republicans have been saying about Obama? There's a vast scorched wasteland of difference between Sanders saying that he disagrees with Obama on issues like trade (and, in fact, he didn't call Obama either "weak" or "a disappointment") and the Republicans claiming that President Obama is consciously attempting to turn the United States into a half-Mexican/half-Muslim free health care-giving breeding ground for rapists and terrorist who will fuck, behead, and regulate out of existence white Christian people and their noble businesses while aborting babies and tossing them on the floor to die before heading out to blow up Israel and the local mall after taking your guns away so you can't be motherfucking Rambo and save the nation from the depredations of a President Clinton or Sanders.
So, you know, just calm that "Sanders doesn't love Obama as much as I do" shit.
After Clinton finished, Sanders answered Clinton with a variation on "I have a black friend" and then said, bizarrely, "Well, one of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate." What the fuck does that even mean? That Clinton should have known Obama was going to win and not run against him? That Clinton didn't think Obama should be president when they were opposing each other for the same job? It's a nonsensical reply because Clinton was attacking Sanders for what he said about President Obama, not an untested Senator Obama. It's like comparing apples and a record of presidential accomplishments.
For both candidates, though, it was a worthless moment, an attempt to pander to African American voters, and a couple of completely unnecessary slams. Obviously, either one of the two is going to carry on and build on much of what Obama has done (mostly for good, but also for bad - see: drone war) while the Republicans talk about taking health insurance away from millions of Americans and deporting children. To say that it matters by what degree Clinton or Sanders support President Obama is to try nuance if you're gonna use a pistol or a rifle to go after the asshole with a sledgehammer.
By the way, writing this made the Rude Pundit wonder: In 2007-8, you could legitimately say that President Bush had done things that were undermining the security and finances of the nation. How did Democratic candidates attack him? Did they say that he is evil incarnate and anti-American? The worst attack he could find came from Hillary Clinton in an April 16, 2008 debate with Barack Obama (when, yes, she was running against him). Clinton said, "I wish the Republicans would apologize for the disaster of the Bush-Cheney years."
These days, if a Republican said that about Obama, he would be seen as restrained and weak in his criticism.