“Maybe it’s that Senator Sanders wasn’t really a Democrat until he decided to run for president,” Hillary Clinton said during Thursday night’s Democratic town hall. “He doesn’t know what the last two Democratic presidents did.”
It has become her favorite line of attack: President Obama is viewed favorably by liberals, so, in order to tarnish Bernie Sanders’s “progressive credentials,” Sanders must be portrayed as anti-Obama.
Clinton has made it a point to bear-hug President Obama and his policies throughout the race, particularly as the campaign heads south. In the last Democratic debate in South Carolina, Clinton repeatedly slammed Sanders for daring to criticize the president, for daring to use his position as a senator to ask questions and to seek answers on behalf of the American people.
The kind of reactionary — and, frankly, disingenuous — hero worship displayed by Clinton of late brings out the worst in American politics. Though it hasn’t yet reached this level for reasons that should be obvious, it is similar to the reflexive praise of Ronald Reagan within the Republican party: To say a negative word about Reagan is to commit a sin of the highest order.
The “if you’re not with us, then you’re against us” crap is tiring, no matter who it comes from. The loyalty-mongering is not cute, and it is not admirable. It is anti-democratic, and it is indicative of one of the main problems with the two-party system, which Sanders has often pointed to (though less frequently of late). Expressing blind loyalty to a party simply because you consider yourself among its ranks is nothing short of ridiculous.
Hillary Clinton would do well to read Theodore Roosevelt’s response to those who deem it unhelpful to criticize the president, even when — and particularly when — he is on “our side.”
“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.”