The Frighteningly Ignorant Candidate (part 1)
[guest post by JVW]
There has been a great deal of discussion the past few days regarding the interview Senator Bernard Sanders (Dem Socialist-VT) had with the editorial board of the New York Daily News that was published earlier this week. Sanders and the Daily News’s editorial board, which like the candidate leans (or better yet lurches) heavily to the left, cover a variety of topics from economics to trade to regulation to foreign policy to campaign strategy, giving Sanders a mostly unimpeded opportunity to demonstrate that he is absolutely ignorant about each and every one of them.
Let’s start with business and the economy. Here is a key part of that exchange:
Daily News: You’ve said that the greed of Wall Street and corporate America is destroying the fabric of our nation. So if we can get particular: For example, in corporate America, Apple happens to be celebrating, today, its 40th birthday. It’s a company that grew from nothing to 115,000 permanent employees. And I’m wondering, is Apple destroying the fabric of America?
Bernie Sanders: No, Apple is not destroying the fabric of America. But I do wish they’d be manufacturing some of their devices, here, in the United States rather than in China. And I do wish that they would not be trying to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.
Daily News: Okay. Well, would you name, say, three American corporate giants that are destroying the national fabric?
Bernie Sanders: JPMorgan Chase, and virtually every other major bank in this country. [. . .]
Shrewd move by the editorial board asking specifically about Apple, a wildly successful company whose products are still coveted by the left-wing activists who comprise Sanders’ fan base. Sanders is shrewd enough to avoid taking the bait, though he does express a desire that Apple would manufacture here in the U.S., because things would be so much better for the average American if a MacBook Pro was $5,000 and an iPhone cost $1,500. But Sanders knows how to stay on message, and he steers the conversation over to Wall Street’s perfidy. Sanders may wish that Apple would move product assembly jobs back to the U.S., but I’m sure that Apple wishes that a left-wing paladin like Sanders would have had the courage to side against a Democrat Administration and advocate against the government forcing the company to hack the phone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook.
The interview moves on to trade, where Sanders makes common cause with Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan in asserting that trade is a horrible thing for us:
Daily News: Okay. Do you weigh in the balance at all, the fact that a company that’s moving jobs overseas, that the competitive climate may be such that they feel that they must, to compete in the United States?
Sanders: No. I think, firstly, we have to appreciate these guys wrote the rules in the first place. So they wrote the trade agreements. And then, yes, I do understand you can make more profits by paying people in Mexico, or China, or Vietnam pennies an hour, I do understand that. But I believe that people have…and, by the way, I’m not anti-trade. We live in a global economy, we need trade. But the trade policies that we have allowed to occur, that were written by corporate America have been disastrous for American workers.
So I think we need trade. But I think it should be based on fair trade policies. No, I don’t think it is appropriate for trade policies to say that you can move to a country where wages are abysmal, where there are no environmental regulations, where workers can’t form unions. That’s not the kind of trade agreement that I will support.
So in Sanders’ world we ought to be paying U.S. wages to workers in Mexico, Vietnam, and China, and we should insist that these developing countries shackle their economies to the whims of the global climate change cartel. I’m sure that will accelerate the process of lifting citizens of those country out of poverty. Not only that, but the rest of us can start paying $20 for a pair of drug store flip-flops or $40 for a three-pack of Gold Toe dress socks.
The topic shifts to the regulatory and legal mechanics of breaking up the banks, and Sanders demonstrates conclusively that he has given the matter zero thought and even less investigation, beyond his usual applause lines. I don’t want to quote it here because it is a pretty long and involved exchange, but I encourage you to go to the transcript of the interview and read it. Sanders declares that the banks need to be broken up, but when asked by the Daily News under what authority he would order the break up, he lapses back into a lamentation of the too big to fail philosophy (a concern he shares with many conservatives, as he acknowledges). Yet when pressed for specifics on how a break-up would work, Sanders sheepishly admits that the has no clue and will leave the actual task up to “the experts” (remind me: which other candidate has a penchant for spouting off with uninformed applause lines unmoored to legal reality?). When the topic shifts to why the Wall Street bigwigs who were around for the 2008 collapse avoided jail, Sanders again demonstrates that his angry rhetoric has no grounding in legal theory:
Daily News: Okay. Staying with Wall Street, you’ve pointed out, that “not one major Wall Street executive has been prosecuted for causing the near collapse of our entire economy.” Why was that? Why did that happen? Why was there no prosecution?
Sanders: I would suspect that the answer that some would give you is that while what they did was horrific, and greedy and had a huge impact on our economy, that some suggest that…that those activities were not illegal. I disagree. And I think an aggressive attorney general would have found illegal activity.
Daily News: So do you think that President Obama’s Justice Department essentially was either in the tank or not as…
Sanders: No, I wouldn’t say they were in the tank. I’m saying, a Sanders administration would have a much more aggressive attorney general looking at all of the legal implications. [. . . ]
Daily News: Okay. But do you have a sense that there is a particular statute or statutes that a prosecutor could have or should have invoked to bring indictments?
Sanders: I suspect that there are. Yes.
Daily News: You believe that? But do you know?
Sanders: I believe that that is the case. Do I have them in front of me, now, legal statutes? No, I don’t. [. . . ]
So Sanders doesn’t think that Obama/Holder Justice Department is “in the tank” for Wall Street; they are just either lazy or incompetent. A ringing endorsement. And for an issue that is so central to the meaning of his candidacy, how come Sanders has never bothered to find out if there are existing statues that have been broken? Is it perhaps because he is little more than a preening blowhard who never thought he would come this far and has been faking it all along?
This post is getting long, and we haven’t even come yet to his delusions and misinformation with respect to foreign policy and his own popularity. I’ll wrap up here for now, and we’ll focus on the rest of Sanders’ further flights of fancy in a later post. I’ll also write about the reaction to his interview from both conservatives and liberals, which is almost uniformly negative.