lunes, 29 de agosto de 2016

Meet Hillary Clinton's anger translator

In an interview  'Off Message' podcast, longtime Clinton confidante Neera Tanden sounds off on Bernie Sanders' attacks, the 2016 election coverage and Vladimir Putin.

Neera Tanden still feels the Bern, and — to her chagrin — so does Hillary Clinton.

Tanden, a longtime Clinton confidante and influential policy-politics-communications adviser, likes Sanders, respects his people (after dutifully detesting them in the primary) and helped broker the progressive policy deal that led to Bernie Sanders’ early summer surrender.

But even now, a month after the Vermont senator pledged his sincere if grumpy Philly fealty to the nominee, Tanden frets that the attacks Sanders made on Clinton during the primary have done irreparable damage by eroding trust and feeding Donald Trump’s Crooked Hillary crusade.

“I actually have to say, I think he brought a lot of really important issues to the floor, but Sen. Sanders was prosecuting a much tougher character attack” than Barack Obama waged in 2008, Tanden told me last week during an hourlong sit-down  MARCA POLíTICA “Off Message” podcast.

“He did do significant damage to Hillary's negatives,” she added. “I mean, he drove a lot of those negatives, and the truth of it, I mean, just to be candid — or honest about it, I think getting those kinds of attacks from another Democrat or another liberal or another progressive is much tougher for Hillary. … If you look at her trust numbers the last six months of that primary, it was much — those numbers took a much sharper dive and hard to recover from.”

Tanden, who succeeded Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta at the helm of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, has spent the better part of two decades at Clinton’s side — first as a White House aide, then as a top staffer in her Senate office, later as policy director of the 2008 campaign and now as a powerful outside adviser who will play a central role in the transition, if there is one.

But the 45-year-old Massachusetts native is more than that: She’s Clinton’s edgy public alter ego, whose stiletto-elbowed Twitter presence is said to closely echo the candidate’s own caustic private musings. And while Tanden respects Sanders and his staff (she helped negotiate the joint Clinton-Sanders college and health proposals and says “they were great”), she echoes Clinton’s own opinion that Sanders let the primary go on too long, too noisily and too nastily.

“This primary was much tougher [than 2008]. There were many more open attacks on being 'bought and paid for' and all that stuff,” said Tanden, who didn’t like it, not one little bit.

What she doesn’t mind, as one of the most progressive voices in Clinton’s inner circle, was the leftward-pushing impact of the Sanders candidacy overall, which allowed her former (and perhaps future) boss to public embrace a more outwardly liberal agenda. Tanden has always played that role internally: Like many of Clinton’s East Wing advisers (led by Clinton’s then-chief of staff Melanne Verveer) she opposed Bill Clinton’s welfare reform measure.

Tanden’s power in Hillaryland had always emanated from the wonk bond she developed with Clinton in the 1990s when the first lady favored headbands and Tanden was a star-struck 20-something Yale Law grad. Over the years, Clinton has, undeniably, tried to have it both ways when it comes to party ideology, portraying herself in 2008 as a responsible, middle-of-the-road Clintonian pragmatist, while suggesting she was always a behind-the-scenes liberal spur during this year’s battle against the socialist Sanders.

Tanden bearhugs the Prog Princess narrative. President Bill Clinton’s aides would “play hide the ball from Hillary” on issues ranging from guns to trade to keep her from messing with their centrist schemes, she said. And when I mentioned former British Prime Minister Tony Blair recently told me that Clinton was the West’s last, best hope for centrist common sense, Tanden rolled her eyes. “I don't really think Tony Blair has the adequate sense of Hillary's views on every issue,” she quipped.

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