Primarily Speaking

image of a cartoon version of me wearing the word COOL as glasses, pictured in front of a patriotic stars-and-stripes graphic, to which I've added text reading: 'The Democratic Primary 2020: Let's do this thing.'

Welcome to another edition of Primarily Speaking, because presidential primaries now begin fully one million years before the election!

Senator Bernie Sanders continues to disgrace himself with his responses to questions about his newly-disclosed millionaire status. At a CNN town hall last night, he was asked by a college student how he would "respond to concerns that your financial status undermines your authority as someone who has railed against millionaires and billionaires." He started smirking even before she finished asking the question, then gave a sarcastic, condescending answer.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Senator Sanders, you recently released 10 years of your tax returns.


CUOMO: Let's talk about that topic. We'll start with Ellen Burstein. She's a freshman at Harvard and grew up in Massachusetts. What's your question for the senator?

QUESTION: Senator Sanders, thank you for being here. Your tax returns recently revealed that you are, in fact, a millionaire. How would you respond to concerns that your financial status undermines your authority as someone who has railed against millionaires and billionaires?

SANDERS: Okay. Well, that's a good question. And here it is, all right? You ready to have me plead guilty? I plead guilty to have written a book which was an international best-seller, okay? And when you write a book that makes it to the top of the New York Times best-seller list, you make money. And I made money. I suspect that in a couple of years my salary will go back to $173,000, which is what a member of Congress gets.

But I think your question should ask, well, now that you wrote a book, you made money, is that going to mean that you change your policies? Well, you're looking at somebody who not only voted against Trump's disastrous tax plan — 83 percent of the benefits going to the top 1 percent — but I have and will continue in this campaign to fight for progressive taxation.

In other words, whether it is Bernie Sanders or your family or anybody else in America, when we have so much income and wealth inequality, when the people on top are doing phenomenally well, yeah, if you are doing very, very well in our economy, you should be paying your fair share of taxes.

We will raise those taxes for the upper income people. We will do away with the tax loopholes and the tax breaks that large private corporations currently receive. Do you happen to know — anybody here happen to know how much Amazon paid in taxes last year? Zero. All right? Owned by the wealthiest guy in America. That is an absurd tax system, a regressive tax system. And if elected president, I will change that tax system.

CUOMO: All right, two quick follow ups. One, you said you expect your salary to go back down to—

SANDERS: Unless I write another best-seller. I don't know.

[audience laughter]

CUOMO: Or, who makes more than that? What does the President of the United States make?

SANDERS: You're right. What does he make? I don't even—

CUOMO: $400,000. So are you saying that you're not going to win?

[audience laughter]

SANDERS: No, I'm not saying that.

CUOMO: All right. I just want to be clear.

SANDERS: All that I'm saying — you know, all that I'm saying is I don't think anyone seriously believes that because I wrote a best-selling book, it made money—

CUOMO: It changed you?

SANDERS: —that I've changed my views, and you'll now hear me saying, gee, maybe we want to give tax breaks to millionaires. I don't think you've heard me say that.
The essential argument that socialist senator Bernie Sanders is making is: "I'm a capitalist, and I made money in a capitalist economy, and it shouldn't matter how I made that money, because it didn't influence my policy platform."

That, friends, would be the exact same argument that Hillary Clinton made when Sanders railed endlessly about her making money from speeches to Goldman Sachs. And when she made that argument, he found it absolutely intolerable.

I honestly don't understand how his supporters cannot see that fundamental hypocrisy and be embarrassed that they ever defended this guy, who is a transparent phony.

Also: His habit of telling people that they're asking the wrong questions, because he doesn't have a good answer and wants to misdirect away from their question, is colossally shitty, and I am very tired of it.

* * *

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Senator Elizabeth Warren also appeared at a CNN town hall last night, and she had a message to girls who might want to run for office someday: "That's what girls do." Right on.

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Warren further used the town hall to double-down on her call for Donald Trump to be impeached: "If any other human being in this country had done what's documented in the Mueller report, they would be arrested and put in jail. ...If there are people in the House and the Senate who want to say that's what a president can do when the president is being investigated for his own wrongdoings or when a foreign government attacks our country, then they should have to take that vote and live with it."

Professor Policy also released what would be a truly transformative higher education plan yesterday: "Universal Free Public College and Cancellation of Student Loan Debt." ICYMI in comments of yesterday's thread, Aphra_Behn has some great analysis of Warren's plan here and here.

Joining Warren in supporting impeachment is Senator Kamala Harris: "'I believe Congress should take the steps toward impeachment,' Harris said at a CNN town hall in Manchester, N.H. While Republicans would likely defend Trump out of 'partisan adherence,' Harris added, 'that does not mean that the process should not take hold.' 'It is very clear that there is a lot of good evidence pointing to obstruction,' she said."

Harris also vowed action on gun reform if she is elected president, saying "she would take executive action enacting sweeping gun control measures if Congress fails to send comprehensive legislation to her desk in her first 100 days."

Julián Castro, meanwhile, "vowed to create an office within the Justice Department to address 'racially discriminatory policing' if he wins in 2020. 'I will demilitarize police departments & decrease overreliance on policing to keep communities safe,' Castro, who previously served as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under former President Barack Obama, tweeted on Monday afternoon. 'I will create an office within the DOJ to address racially discriminatory policing, hold offending officers & departments accountable, and increase unconscious bias training.'"

Senator Cory Booker is leading the pack in endorsements. He has almost triple the score of Bernie Sanders. And that's not a meaningless statistic: It's indicative of whether a potential president will have the support of his party to get shit done.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg has the distinction of being "the only high-level contender" who "is actively accepting donations from Washington lobbyists." He's also being thrown a big Hollywood fundraiser "hosted by gay Hollywood A-list," so he won't be hurting for cash anytime soon.

I wonder, however, if some of the people jumping on the Buttigieg bandwagon might not want to take just a minute to find out a little more about him first, because his record as mayor has [CN: racism; classism] some pretty significant blemishes on it.

Also, this is very bad:

Vindicated the values that animate our polities? LOL shut up. You're left of Donald Trump — that's values enough for me at this point; now give me the details of how you plan to govern, pal.

It really takes some chutzpah to be running for president as a 37-year-old mayor of a small city in Indiana and assert that you don't need to put out any policy details that show how you might govern as president of the nation, or give some indication that you even have the ability to do the job, and present it as though it's a kindness to voters who are too daft to grasp policy. Woo.

Governor Jay Inslee is petitioning for the DNC to hold a debate dedicated to climate change, which is his signature campaign issue. That's a good idea. At the same time, however, he is [CN: video may autoplay at link] meeting resistance on the ground in Iowa to even the basic idea that climate change demands urgency: "As his disaster tour of Hamburg brings him inside Risky Business Auto Repair, Inslee comes face to face with the climate change pushback. 'No, no, no!' says owner Ron Perry, when asked if he agrees that Hamburg's flooding is a result of climate change. 'I blame it totally on the Army Corps of Engineers. And so does everybody else around here.'" Well, shit.

Oh dear: Beto O'Rourke's campaign seems to be in trouble: "Two top campaign advisers to Beto O’Rourke are no longer working for his campaign. O'Rourke's campaign confirmed that advisers Becky Bond and Zack Malitz, who were instrumental in launching his presidential campaign in March, are no longer among the paid staff. ...O'Rourke's campaign downplayed the departures, saying Bond and Malitz held 'temporary one-month launch positions' and that they remain part of the team, but as volunteers." Yikes.

Polls mean absolutely nothing at this point, but O'Rourke isn't polling well and continues to slide. As does Joe Biden. Ouch.

In fact, Biden's announcement, which was supposed to be tomorrow, may now be pushed back. My recommendation is that he pushes it back to "never." That's just some free advice for ya, Joe! You're welcome!

John Hickenlooper is still definitely running for president.

Talk about these things! Or don't. Whatever makes you happy. Life is short.

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