Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) picked a point of contention from the Feb. 4 MSNBC debate to cudgel Hillary Clinton at last night’s PBS debate: her citation of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Clinton said in the MSNBC forum that she was “very flattered” when Kissinger “said I ran the State Department better — better than anybody had run it in a long time.”
Antiwar liberals on Twitter latched on to the name drop, but Sanders didn’t counter Hillary on Henry at the time.
But last night, Bernie was ready.
Sanders had been hitting Clinton for poor foreign policy judgment, while Clinton retorted that she was “proud” of her advice to President Obama to approve the mission to take out Osama bin Laden.
Sanders noted how “she talked about getting the approval or the support or the mentoring” of Kissinger, “one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country.”
“I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger. And in fact, Kissinger’s actions in Cambodia, when the United States bombed that country, overthrew Prince Sihanouk, created the instability for Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge to come in, who then butchered some 3 million innocent people, one of the worst genocides in the history of the world. So count me in as somebody who will not be listening to Henry Kissinger,” Bernie said.
Hillary’s response: “Well, I know journalists have asked who you do listen to on foreign policy, and we have yet to know who that is.”
“Well, it ain’t Henry Kissinger. That’s for sure,” Bernie shot back.
“You know, I listen to a wide variety of voices that have expertise in various areas. I think it is fair to say, whatever the complaints that you want to make about him are, that with respect to China, one of the most challenging relationships we have, his opening up China and his ongoing relationships with the leaders of China is an incredibly useful relationship for the United States of America,” Clinton continued.
“So if we want to pick and choose — and I certainly do — people I listen to, people I don’t listen to, people I listen to for certain areas, then I think we have to be fair and look at the entire world, because it’s a big, complicated world out there. And, yes, people we may disagree with on a number of things may have some insight, may have some relationships that are important for the president to understand in order to best protect the United States.”
Sanders called it “a very different, you know, historical perspective here.”
“Kissinger was one of those people during the Vietnam era who talked about the domino theory. Not everybody remembers that. You do. I do. The domino theory, you know, if Vietnam goes, China, da, da, da, da, da, da, da. That’s what he talked about, the great threat of China,” he said.
“And then, after the war, this is the guy who, in fact, yes, you’re right, he opened up relations with China, and now pushed various type of trade agreements, resulting in American workers losing their jobs as corporations moved to China. The terrible, authoritarian, Communist dictatorship he warned us about, now he’s urging companies to shut down and move to China. Not my kind of guy.”
Showing that they’d prepped for the attack, the Sanders campaign quickly sent out a comprehensive email titled “Why Hillary Clinton’s Support for Henry Kissinger is Dangerous.”
Code Pink, which tried to arrest then 91-year-old Kissinger for war crimes last year at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing but was blocked by 94-year-old George Shultz, seized on the exchange, tweeting: “Share if Kissinger is not your friend too!”