Tying his opponent Hillary Clinton to the hated political “Establishment” has been a cornerstone of Bernie Sanders’s pitch to Democratic voters in the upcoming presidential primaries, but on Thursday, Clinton threw the somewhat vague allegation right back at the Vermont senator.
Appearing on CNN’s The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer, Clinton expressed bemusement at this line of attack, pointing out that Sanders is himself pretty well-established.
“He’s been in the Congress for 25 [years]. And so I’ll let your viewers make their own judgment,” she said.
This I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I line was in response to a comment Sanders made on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show on Tuesday night in which he sought to downplay her recent endorsements from the Human Rights Campaign and Planned Parenthood, saying these groups were “part of the Establishment.”
Clinton has gone on to make as much political hay as the news cycle will allow from Sanders’s statement, first by arguing that if such organizations were truly part of the Establishment, there would be no need for them to keep fighting for LGBT equality and women’s reproductive rights, and second by claiming that Sanders is at least as “Establishment” as she is.
Then again, highlighting Sanders’s decades of government service may not be entirely on-brand for a candidate campaigning — as in her latest Iowa TV spot — as more experienced than her rivals.
The two Democrats are not the only presidential hopefuls bandying about the “e-word” this silly season. No sooner had Sarah Palin endorsed Republican front-runner Donald Trump as an antidote to the Republican lamestream than his rival Ted Cruz turned around and attempted to tie Trump to “the Washington Establishment.”
At this point, of course, the Republican Establishment is merely horrified by its entire menu of options, especially Ted Cruz, and will run to anyone it thinks might have a snowball’s chance in Florida of becoming president.