Donna Brazile has always been for Clinton

The interim chair of the DNC, Donna Brazile, appears to have tipped off Clinton’s campaign about a questioning concerning the death penalty in a Democratic town hall. The response from Brazile and others was poorly coordinated and appears to show them giving two different excuses. But Tad Devine, a strategist who worked for Bernie Sanders during the primary, has come to the rescue, saying “she was fair and square with us.” Since Brazile was co-chair of the DNC during the primary, any favoritism would have been a problem as the DNC is supposed to be the neutral arbiter of a fair process.

I don’t know Tad’s motives in coming to her defense. I don’t know if Tad has any loyalty to Bernie or if he’s just another mostly mercenary political consultant loyal only to potential clients — in this case, the party which is now clearly set to win the White House. However, what I do know is that Donna Brazile has never been neutral. Let us take as an example this Op-Ed she wrote after the April 15th Democratic debate in New York. I encourage you to read the full text first and decide for yourself if she sounds like a neutral party making fair observations about the debate. I’ll now dissect it a bit.

Sanders played pundit … odd choice … tactic that Trump himself favors … and HRC won 2.3 million more votes than him

It wasn’t an odd choice. The media had been hounding him for weeks asking why he wouldn’t drop out. The whole primary schedule was one where he would lose a lot early on because of conservative southern states, and he had finally just started winning more during the second half. And literally all the data overwhelmingly supported the argument that he would have been the stronger candidate against Trump. It was a very powerful argument concerning how worried people were about Trump and how unenthusiastic many Democratic voters were about Clinton, but Brazile just dismisses it as odd. She then drops the number 2.3 million without any context — what percent was it? what percent of votes remained to be cast? — to boost Clinton’s appearance and try to reinforce the “delegate math” meme propagated by Clinton’s campaign that it was just not possible for Bernie to make a comeback.

Clinton .. easy to diagnose problems but much harder to solve … her experience … greatest of any of the candidates

This is just flat out repeating the Clinton campaigns’ surely focused group tested and optimized attack line on Bernie. Instead of criticizing anything about the line, like she does for every single one of Bernie’s points, she goes on to repeat the completely false trope that Clinton has the greatest amount of experience. (Recall: she has 8 years as a senator, <5 as SecState, and if you count her time as first lady another 8 years in WH, for a total of about 21 years. Bernie was mayor for 8 years, representative for 16, and senator for 9 before Brazile wrote this).

attacks … mostly along lines that have already been explored. Sanders [attacked her on super PACs] but when asked to give an example of a vote [she changed] to benefit wealthy donors … couldn’t name one

At other times he has referred to Elizabeth Warren’s example of Clinton changing her mind on a bankruptcy bill from when she was first lady to when she became senator in New York. Notice how much Brazile tries to minimize this attack: it’s an old attack that has already been explored, and the fact that Bernie didn’t think of that example on the spot during the debate somehow makes it fine to go along with the interpretation that she actually never changed her vote.

Sanders again brought up … speeches to Goldman Sachs … only reason anyone knows about the amounts [she was paid] is because she released her income tax records … Sanders has seemed reluctant to release his

Again Brazile tries to minimize the attack by saying it’s done before, again she immediately distracts to the issue of tax returns. The Sanders family doesn’t have a tax lawyer keeping their records who they could call up and get to release them. They did their taxes themselves with TurboTax. And Bernie DID release his tax return the very day of that debate, which Brazile doesn’t mention.

sparring over breaking up the banks (and Sanders’ trouble articulating how that would be done in his NYDN interview) … something of a consensus in light of findings by the FED and FDIC

This New York Daily News interview was one of the dumbest parts of the primary. Sanders’ refusal to go into fine detail about breaking up the banks was vindicated by multiple experts who wrote that it’s the banks themselves who would be free to determine how to restructure and there was no onus on a presidential candidate to tell them how to do it. This didn’t stop the political hack machine from flipping out and framing the interview as an unmitigated disaster for Sanders. By the time the debate came around, the question had already been resolved, but Brazile still had to bring readers’ attention back to the NYDN interview.

[abortion] hasn’t come up in any Democratic debate so far … Clinton brought it up unprompted … biggest bursts of applause of the evening

Just like her delicate use of words in claiming she never received “debate” questions beforehand when the Podesta emails showed her tipping off the Clinton campaign for a “town hall,” she is doing the same thing here. Clinton and Sanders were asked about abortion more than a month earlier during a Fox News town hall. Brazile doesn’t mention this, nor does she mention that Clinton actually has a weaker position than Bernie, supporting allowing states to ban late term abortions. Instead she just points out that Clinton brought it up unprompted to thunderous applause. Bernie received lots of applause that night too, but none of this is mentioned, of course.

… Democratic voters want civility …

The background here is that Clinton’s campaign had intensified attacks against Bernie in light of his string of victories beginning the second half of the primary. There had recently been reporting that her campaign would “disqualify him, defeat him, and unite the party later.” Clinton all but said the precise words “he isn’t qualified” and he responded by saying “I don’t think she’s qualified if she takes money from super PACs,” and several other attacks that framed qualification around stances on specific issues. There followed an outrage — how dare he say she isn’t qualified, doesn’t he know that’s sexist because women often fear they aren’t qualified for things they are actually overqualified for? He immediately backed off and said she is qualified, but that his campaign would continue to hit back if attacked. The media and a bunch of Clinton surrogates called for civility and said his campaign was being too negative. Then Clinton said he should apologize to the families of the Sandy Hook massacre. (Yes, that happened). The establishment continued demanding civility and it was always clear from the context they were talking about him attacking her on the transcripts, superPACs, fracking, etc.

In summary, Brazile hit all the notes the Clinton campaign could have possibly asked her for. She brought up Clinton’s lead and painted Sanders’ celebrating his victories as an odd strategy that agrees with Trump. She called Sanders’ attacks old and dismissed or deflected each of them. She reminded us about the NYDN interview. She touted the false narrative that Clinton had the greatest experience. She praised Clinton for bringing up abortion and pretended it had not already been discussed in a previous town hall. With the exception of mentioning Bernie’s attacks on Clinton in order to dismiss them, she didn’t say a single negative thing about Clinton.

What needs to happen next:

Donna Brazile should step down or be fired from the DNC immediately, and we need an independent investigation into who got access to town hall and/or debate questions and whether they have helped any candidates. Finally, the DNC should launch something like a Truth and Reconciliation Commission or Commission on Party Structure and Delegate Selection to determine the extent of systematic bias within the DNC and recommend rules for future primaries, including at minimum the immediate abolition of superdelegates, same-day voter registration for new voters and party affiliation change deadlines no earlier than a week before the primary in all states.