So, by now, you’ve probably read about Sen. Bernie Sanders less than stellar meeting with the New York Daily News’ editorial board this week. In fact, it was a shambles. Cortney wrote how the Clinton campaign jumped on this train wreck in an interview, illustrating how the disheveled self-described democratic socialist is wholly unprepared to lead the free world. From his supposed plan to reign in the big banks to aspects about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (and his plan to prosecute Wall Street financers), it was abundantly clear that the senator did not do his homework [emphasis mine]:
Daily News: So if you look forward, a year, maybe two years, right now you have...JPMorgan has 241,000 employees. About 20,000 of them in New York. $192 billion in net assets. What happens? What do you foresee? What is JPMorgan in year two of...
Sanders: What I foresee is a stronger national economy. And, in fact, a stronger economy in New York State, as well. What I foresee is a financial system which actually makes affordable loans to small and medium-size businesses. Does not live as an island onto themselves concerned about their own profits. And, in fact, creating incredibly complicated financial tools, which have led us into the worst economic recession in the modern history of the United States.
Daily News: I get that point. I'm just looking at the method because, actions have reactions, right? There are pluses and minuses. So, if you push here, you may get an unintended consequence that you don't understand. So, what I'm asking is, how can we understand? If you look at JPMorgan just as an example, or you can do Citibank, or Bank of America. What would it be? What would that institution be? Would there be a consumer bank? Where would the investing go?
Sanders: I'm not running JPMorgan Chase or Citibank.
Daily News: No. But you'd be breaking it up.
Sanders: That's right. And that is their decision as to what they want to do and how they want to reconfigure themselves. That's not my decision. All I am saying is that I do not want to see this country be in a position where it was in 2008, where we have to bail them out. And, in addition, I oppose that kind of concentration of ownership entirely.
You're asking a question, which is a fair question. But let me just take your question and take it to another issue. Alright? It would be fair for you to say, "Well, Bernie, you got on there that you are strongly concerned about climate change and that we have to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel. What happens to the people in the fossil fuel industry?"
That's a fair question. But the other part of that is if we do not address that issue the planet we’re gonna leave your kids and your grandchildren may not be a particularly healthy or habitable one. So I can't say, if you're saying that we’re going to break up the banks, will it have a negative consequence on some people? I suspect that it will. Will it have a positive impact on the economy in general? Yes, I think it will.
Daily News: Well, it does depend on how you do it, I believe. And, I'm a little bit confused because just a few minutes ago you said the U.S. President would have authority to order...
Sanders: No, I did not say we would order. I did not say that we would order. The President is not a dictator.
Daily News: Okay. You would then leave it to JPMorgan Chase or the others to figure out how to break it, themselves up. I'm not quite...
Sanders: You would determine is that, if a bank is too big to fail, it is too big to exist. And then you have the secretary of treasury and some people who know a lot about this, making that determination. If the determination is that Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan Chase is too big to fail, yes, they will be broken up.
Daily News: Okay. You saw, I guess, what happened with Metropolitan Life. There was an attempt to bring them under the financial regulatory scheme, and the court said no. And what does that presage for your program?
Sanders: It's something I have not studied, honestly, the legal implications of that.
On the prosecution of big bank executives, Sanders would like to prosecute them, but he doesn’t know any legal statues that would permit that. It’s okay; it’s what he believes [emphasis mine]:
Daily News: Okay. Staying with Wall Street, you've pointed out, that "not one major Wall Street executive has been prosecuted for causing the near collapse of our entire economy." Why was that? Why did that happen? Why was there no prosecution?
Sanders: I would suspect that the answer that some would give you is that while what they did was horrific, and greedy and had a huge impact on our economy, that some suggest that...that those activities were not illegal. I disagree. And I think an aggressive attorney general would have found illegal activity.
Daily News: So do you think that President Obama's Justice Department essentially was either in the tank or not as...
Sanders: No, I wouldn’t say they were in the tank. I'm saying, a Sanders administration would have a much more aggressive attorney general looking at all of the legal implications. All I can tell you is that if you have Goldman Sachs paying a settlement fee of $5 billion, other banks paying a larger fee, I think most Americans think, "Well, why do they pay $5 billion?" Not because they're heck of a nice guys who want to pay $5 billion. Something was wrong there. And if something was wrong, I think they were illegal activities.
Daily News: Okay. But do you have a sense that there is a particular statute or statutes that a prosecutor could have or should have invoked to bring indictments?
Sanders: I suspect that there are. Yes.
Daily News: You believe that? But do you know?
Sanders: I believe that that is the case. Do I have them in front of me, now, legal statutes? No, I don't. But if I would...yeah, that's what I believe, yes. When a company pays a $5 billion fine for doing something that's illegal, yeah, I think we can bring charges against the executives.
This isn’t a partisan fight. Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post also said that this interview left him “agape,” and showed that he was “out of his depth” on a wide array of issues, especially when Sanders veered into the realm of foreign affairs:
Daily News: Do you support the Palestinian leadership’s attempt to use the International Criminal Court to litigate some of these issues to establish that, in their view, Israel had committed essentially war crimes?
Daily News: Why not?
Sanders: Why not?
Daily News: Why not, why it…
Sanders: Look, why don’t I support a million things in the world? I’m just telling you that I happen to believe…
Daily News: Okay, while we were sitting here, I double-checked the facts. It’s the miracle of the iPhone. My recollection was correct. It was about 2,300, I believe, killed, and 10,000 wounded. President Obama has taken the authority for drone attacks away from the CIA and given it to the U.S. military. Some say that that has caused difficulties in zeroing in on terrorists, their ISIS leaders. Do you believe that he’s got the right policy there?
Sanders: I don’t know the answer to that. What I do know is that drones are a modern weapon.
Daily News: Okay. American Special Forces recently killed a top ISIS commander, after they’d hoped to capture him. They felt, from what the news reports were, that they had no choice at that. What would you do with a captured ISIS commander?
Sanders: Imprison him.
Daily News: Where?
Sanders: And try to get as much information out of him. If the question leads us to Guantanamo…
Daily News: Well, no, separate and apart from Guantanamo, it could be there, it could be anywhere. Where would a President Sanders imprison, interrogate? What would you do?
Sanders: Actually I haven’t thought about it a whole lot. I suppose, somewhere near the locale where that person was captured. The best location where that individual would be safely secured in a way that we can get information out of him.
It left Reason’s Nick Gillespie asking whether Sanders and Donald Trump both occupied the joke candidate category during this year’s election cycle. To be honest, it’s not really a shock that Sanders has no clue what he’s doing in international affairs. He’s proven consistently in previous Democratic debates that this isn’t his strong point; it’s a notion that he’s admitted on the debate stage. Even people who have covered him for most of his political career say he would be a “lousy” commander-in-chief. Then again, many are drawn into his ideas about free college, breaking up the banks, and creating a fairer economy. It’s now obvious that these issues, which are his bread and butter on the campaign trail, present other areas where the senator is a mile wide and an inch deep. In fact, he appears to be treading on water on both the domestic and foreign policy front. Then again, it highlights the rather significant problem of Democratic Party unity in this primary fight that has recently become nasty between the two camps, with Sanders saying that Clinton isn’t qualified to be president, while Clinton says that the Vermont Senator really isn’t a Democrat. A new poll showed that a quarter of Bernie supporters wouldn’t back Clinton in the general if he were to lose the nomination to her.
Clinton may have the money, the delegate math sewn up, and more votes than Sanders, but it’s clear that it’s not because they back her to the hilt. Sanders represents where many current Democrats fall along ideological lines, while Clinton is just seen as more experienced and electable than Sanders. Also, she got a huge boost when she ran the table on Sanders when the Democratic primaries ventured below the Mason-Dixon line. Don’t get me wrong; the GOP has problems of their own with their candidates as well regarding unity, but Trump wasn’t seen as someone who was supposed to have a smooth coronation to the nomination. That was Clinton–and her inability to get her side excited about her candidacy is problematic. Luckily for her, Trump winning the nomination could reverse such negative optics.