Last night, Bernie Sanders held a rally at Washington Square Park in New York City. There were several speakers before Sanders came onstage, one of whom was Dr. Paul Song, who spoke about the need for universal healthcare. As part of his remarks, he said (which I personally transcribed from video of the event):
Now Secretary Clinton has said that Medicare for All will never happen. [boos] Well, I agree with Secretary Clinton that Medicare for All will never happen if we have a president who never aspires for something greater than the status quo. [cheers] Medicare for All will never happen if we continue to elect corporate Democratic whores [cheers] who are beholden to Big Pharma and the private insurance industry instead of us.Later, when Sanders took the stage, he listed all the speakers by name, including Dr. Song, and then said: "I want to thank all of them for being here tonight, and for the great introductions I've received."
I was possibly the first person to tweet a full transcription of the quote (RIP my mentions), so Dr. Song tweeted at me: "I have spent my adult life fighting 4 healthcare for all. I have said this about congress for years Never HRC."
(As an aside: Can anyone else think of someone who's been fighting for healthcare for all for her adult life?)
To which I replied: "Are you honestly trying to tell me you were excluding Hillary Clinton when you JUST referenced her in the previous sentence?"
To which he replied: "yes. I have never said anything personal about her. Am deeply sorry for my poor choice of words. It was truly about congress."
To which I replied: "1. It's indecent no matter to whom it was referring. 2. The person to whom you owe an apology is @HillaryClinton." And: "Would you like to specify which of these members of Congress you called corporate whores? All of them?"
(And I'll just note that Dr. Song's broad construction means he called our sitting President a "corporate Democratic whore," too. Unless you take him at his word that he only meant Congress. Which I don't.)
Song later tweeted a general (in the sense that it wasn't just tweeted at me) apology: "I am very sorry for using the term 'whore' to refer to some in congress who are beholden to corporations and not us. It was insensitive."
Song said what he said. To be honest, I'm even more annoyed that Sanders didn't say anything about it when he took the stage. (Except that it was a "great introduction.") Obviously, it's possible Sanders didn't himself hear it, but did none of his staff hear it and think it was worth mentioning to him?
I find it very upsetting that either no one from his campaign heard it and cared enough about it that he addressed it as soon as he came onstage.
And here's why: In 2008, I went to see Hillary Clinton speak at a local union hall, and the man who introduced her said she had "testicular fortitude." When she took the mic, she said that both women and men could have fortitude of their own—and she has it! That got lots of applause, especially from women. Because Clinton wasn't just defending herself against misogyny masquerading as a compliment, but every woman in the room who was hit with the rhetorical buckshot. I will never forget having to see a female president start her campaign event by addressing misogyny, intended as a "compliment."
That she's obliged to defend herself at her own campaign events means, to me, that Sanders is obliged to defend her at his.
In any case, Sanders tweeted this morning: "Dr. Song's comment was inappropriate and insensitive. There's no room for language like that in our political discourse."
Any disavowal of his supporters who have relentlessly harassing me for the last 12 hours, including calling me a whore, just for reporting it, or nah?
For someone who promised to not run a negative campaign, this is getting really ugly.