Editor’s Note: Timothy Stanley, a conservative, is a historian and columnist for Britain’s Daily Telegraph. He is the author of “Citizen Hollywood: How the Collaboration Between L.A. and D.C. Revolutionized American Politics.” The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
Tim Stanley: On style, command of foreign policy, Hillary Clinton won debate, but Sanders won on the substance of his one really good issue: money in politics
He says Clinton left impression on issue of hefty speakers fees that she's too tied to Wall Street-- a weakness that plays to Sanders' strength
What a great debate. Bernie Sanders vs. Hillary Clinton is turning into a genuine philosophical contest – between the senator’s populist radicalism and the Secretary of State’s gradualist reformism. The policy difference is narrow but the approach to politics is hugely different.
On style, many viewers will judge that Clinton won the faceoff in Durham, New Hampshire. She was certainly, to borrow a Trumpism, “high energy.” She artfully shot down Sanders’ attacks on her progressivism and quite convincingly displayed her knowledge of foreign policy.
On the latter subject, Sanders suddenly seemed parochial and out of his depth. He should’ve dismissed a silly invitation to rank various regimes in order of evilness. Instead he gave a halting description of North Korea that suggested he was trying to visualize it on a map. At times, it sounded like he only has one issue. Happily for him, it’s a darn good issue.
An undecided voter who watched the debate had to come away with the impression that Clinton is the handmaiden of Wall Street. Sanders hit the subject of money in politics so hard and so convincingly that even this conservative viewer was punching the air with a clenched fist.
We know that liberal legislation gets killed because of Wall Street lobbying. We know that Clinton takes a lot of money from Wall Street – she was paid $675,000 from Goldman Sachs just for delivering three speeches. So it’s reasonable to infer that Clinton is at the epicenter of the economic forces stopping social change.
Clinton said in her defense that she told Wall Street audiences that they were hurting the economy and that proof of her liberal credentials is how aggressively Wall Street lobbyists have tried to stop her getting elected over the years.
None of this is logical. Why would Wall Street spend big bucks to hear a speech from a woman they hate and who thinks they are destroying America? Or, put it another way, if Wall Street has done its best to hurt Hillary Clinton, why on Earth would she give speeches to it? And if she really did use those speeches to preach socialism, why doesn’t she just release the transcripts to prove her righteousness?
Presumably she wrote her remarks down before delivering them? One hopes that for $675,000, Clinton wouldn’t improvise. Who knows? Perhaps she sent the speeches to herself via email. If so, we’ll see what’s in them soon enough.
Bernie Sanders might have some un-America ideas, but he has a better sense of what’s worrying the American people than Clinton does. She probably won the debate on style – but Sanders won on substance.
Many people do not trust Hillary Clinton. So long as the Democratic contest is this raw and revealing, they never will.