Clinton Insider Neera Tanden: Sanders Did "Significant Damage"
by Gaius Publius
Short and bitter-sweet. The primary election is mainly over (but not quite; there's still a black swan or two hovering overhead). Clinton and her camp have vanquished the challenge from the left wing of her own voting base. We've listened to call after call for "party unity."
And yet we see this — Neera Tanden, a major Clinton insider, current head of the prominent (and Clintonist) thinktank Center for American Progress, someone in line for a significant job in a new Clinton administration, someone currently on Clinton's transition team, takes an unprovoked backhand swipe at Sanders and the left he represented during the primary, a punch in the gut for an offense long past.
The offense? Not surrendering to Clinton early enough.
Tanden, as quoted in The Hill:
Clinton confidante: Sanders did 'significant damage'On the same story, Politico adds this:
Longtime Hillary Clinton confidante Neera Tanden in a new podcast commends Bernie Sanders for the issues he raised during his campaign but notes his attacks on the Democratic presidential nominee were harmful.
“I actually have to say, I think he brought a lot of really important issues to the floor, but Senator Sanders was prosecuting a much tougher character attack” than Barack Obama did in 2008, Tanden said during Politico’s “Off Message” podcast.
“He did do significant damage to Hillary's negatives."
During the primary season, the Vermont senator often attacked the eventual Democratic nominee on the campaign trail — at points, questioning her judgment.
“I mean, he drove a lot of those negatives, and the truth of it, I mean, just to be candid — or honest about it, I think getting those kinds of attacks from another Democrat or another liberal or another progressive is much tougher for Hillary," said Tanden, who is the president of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress.
"If you look at her trust numbers the last six months of that primary ... those numbers took a much sharper dive and [were] hard to recover from.”
[Tanden is] Clinton’s edgy public alter ego, whose stiletto-elbowed Twitter presence is said to closely echo the candidate’s own caustic private musings. And while Tanden respects Sanders and his staff (she helped negotiate the joint Clinton-Sanders college and health proposals and says “they were great”), she echoes Clinton’s own opinion that Sanders let the primary go on too long, too noisily and too nastily. [my emphasis]Tanden's "stiletto-elbowed Twitter presence" — about that, more here. If you have a minute, do click. It makes a fascinating side story.
“This primary was much tougher [than 2008]. There were many more open attacks on being 'bought and paid for' and all that stuff,” said Tanden, who didn’t like it, not one little bit.
"Echoing the candidate's own caustic musings" — we'll have to take Politico's word for that, since there are no cited sources.
Clinton's opinion that "Sanders let the primary go on too long, too noisily and too nastily" — that's not hard to believe. Though it has a note of entitlement about it, I think — a note of complaining that your opponent should have quit earlier — and entitled is exactly what you don't want to be perceived as, no matter how far ahead of Donald Trump you are. So, on that score, bad move.
Which brings us back to Neera Tanden, and the question, why this slap at Sanders now? It apparently comes from nowhere, or from pique, a winner's swipe at a loser who's laying on the mat.
About that, two points. First, Tanden's comment adds credence to the perception of Clinton-camp entitlement that most Democrats think both Clinton and her team should avoid. Second, this incident has to give pause to that aforementioned Sanders-supporting base, that if this candidate and her new team can't resist unprovoked hippie-punching now, what will they do once they have real power?
Again, bad move, as I see it. This looks like an unforced error to me.