First things first, we need a bit of background. Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton’s biggest challenger in the Democratic presidential primary, has one son. His name is Levi, and he has three adopted grandchildren from China. When Sanders married his second wife, Jane, she had three children of their own, and those children now have four children of their own. Sanders considers all seven his grandchildren, as anyone would, even though he’s not related to them by blood.
Clinton, conversely, has one daughter, Chelsea, and Chelsea has a baby daughter named Charlotte.
Which brings us to today. As you see in the video above, Hillary Clinton appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to discuss her differences with “other candidates” in the field. Until very recently, she took pains not to mention Bernie Sanders’ name in her campaign, and to avoid directly engaging him in debates, and in this video she doesn’t mention anybody by name. However, when Mika Brzezinski asks her about her core message, there’s no mistaking the shade she throws:
For me this really is pretty straightforward. I don’t promise easy answers. I don’t promise things that I’m not…knowing can be delivered.”
One of Clinton’s chief tactics in combatting Sanders has been the assertion that some of his proposals are pie-in-the-sky, and despite the idealism he may be inspiring, especially in young people, she’s the pragmatic candidate who can actually get things done.
The issue comes in the next part of her statement, mere seconds later (1:45 mark above):
And I guess at the end of the day, for me—you know, people talk about their extraordinary grandchildren, but I actually have one—and we’re going to do everything we can to give her opportunities…
Whoa! My first reaction, hearing that, was “this can’t be what she meant…nobody can be that clueless.” But let’s look at the actual evidence:
1. She was just contrasting herself with Bernie Sanders. As in, basically in the same sentence. She also gave a little dismissive laugh in the middle of the sentence, so it sounds like she’s denigrating somebody.
2. Bernie Sanders regularly uses the word “extraordinary” to describe his grandchildren in stump speeches.
3. Who the hell else could Clinton have been talking about? Was she directing a weird insult at someone else who claims they have extraordinary grandchildren? The whole thing doesn’t make sense.
There may be an innocent explanation, but the phrasing of her statement is clearly intended as a contrast to somebody, and when you consider both the context of the her entire answer, and the fact that the word “extraordinary” seems to have been purposefully used, it’s hard not to reach a simple conclusion—this was a reference to Bernie Sanders. (And we’re not the only ones reaching that conclusion.) If that’s the case, it’s an almost unbelievable misstep by a politician who should know a lot better.
(This post will be updated when and if the Clinton team responds.)