Crossposted at DemocraticDiva.com
At the end of last week’s Democratic debate, Anderson Cooper asked the candidates the following question (link autoplays):
“You’ve all made a few people upset over your political careers. Which enemy are you most proud of?”
Note that “enemy” was Cooper’s word choice. Here’s how all of them answered:
Lincoln Chafee: I guess the coal lobby. I’ve worked hard for climate change and I want to work with the coal lobby. But in my time in the Senate, tried to bring them to the table so that we could address carbon dioxide. I’m proud to be at odds with the coal lobby.
Martin O’Malley: The National Rifle Association.
Hillary Clinton: Well, in addition to the NRA, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, the Iranians. Probably the Republicans.
Bernie Sanders: As someone who has taken on probably every special interest that there is in Washington, I would lump Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry at the top of my life of people who do not like me.
Jim Webb: I’d have to say the enemy soldier that threw the grenade that wounded me, but he’s not around right now to talk to.
Only Webb used “enemy” in his response, and rightly so, since he was talking about someone who was actually trying to kill him in combat. But only the most literal-minded person wouldn’t have realized that Cooper was being hyperbolic with the use of “enemy”, in the same way you understand that your obviously well-nourished co-worker isn’t really on the brink of death from malnutrition when she declares, “When is lunch? I’m starving!” It was clear from the answers the first four candidates gave that they were describing political adversaries, not actual enemy combatants they intended to send hellfire missile drones after. Hillary Clinton was clearly not characterizing Republicans as such when she laughingly tacked them on at the end of her answer, though she was absolutely correct that she has been a target of Republican enmity for decades.
Clinton’s uncontroversial (to most Democrats) observation about Republicans and their unhinged crusade against her went unremarked upon for over a week until both Jim Webb and Joe Biden(!) felt the need to clutch pearls about it.
“I really respect the members up there and I still have a lot of Republican friends. I don’t think my chief enemy is the Republican Party. This is a matter of making things work.”
Ugh. I think Biden may (understandably) be feeling magnanimous toward Republicans on the Hill because of the outpouring of sympathy they have shown him due to his son Beau’s tragic death a few months ago. There’s also the fact that both he and Webb are affluent straight white guys, which tends to help tremendously in the Congressional collegiality department. Biden also hadn’t officially declared a Presidential candidacy yet and was basking in the kind of goodwill and high approval ratings that Hillary Clinton enjoyed not so long ago as Secretary of State, a situation that would have reversed abruptly had he declared.
Finally, and most importantly, Biden is not a Clinton. He’s not facing yet another sideshow spectacle interrogation before a Congressional committee full of his Republican “friends” and dedicated to the ongoing Benghazi Bullshit-athon as Hillary is this week. Honestly, had Clinton declared Republicans to be her enemies in a sincerely enraged nostril-flaring emulation of her SNL parodist Kate McKinnon, no one would have grounds to lecture her for it. They really are her enemies, which has been patently obvious since 1992. She didn’t start it and her acknowledging it is not the same as her wishing her opponents harm. It simply means she understands they are a threat. Expecting Hillary Clinton to pretend that is not so is patently absurd and is like rooting for Julia Roberts’ character to lose against Patrick Bergin’s character in Sleeping With The Enemy.