Bernie Sanders: rabid right-winger? A senior Hillary surrogate has accused Bernie Sanders of "McCarthyism," of all things. Has Bernie's big Wisconsin win knocked the Clinton campaign off its moorings?
Five years ago, I wrote that the irascible Barney Frank could pick a fight in a phone booth. Further proof came on Chris Hayes' MSNBC show tonight, as Hillary-fan Frank jumped ugly with fellow liberal but Bernie-backer Robert Reich. The ostensible topic was whether Sanders had the substance to back up his plan to break up the big banks. But the big bottom line is that Barney Frank accused Sanders of "McCarthyite" tactics and "McCarthyism." In the liberal lexicon, them's serious fightin' words. Will Hillary stand by Barney's accusation tomorrow?
Note: host Hayes didn't utter a peep in response to Frank's accusation of Sanders "McCarthyism."
Beyond Barney's headline accusation of "McCarthyism," check out Frank's recurring nastiness. Is it simply a reflection of Barney's basic personality, or of a pervasive unease afoot in Hillary World?
BARNEY FRANK: The thing that bothered me in that interview and elsewhere in the campaign is a kind of McCarthyite suggestion that the reason big banks and other institutions haven't been criminally prosecuted is in part because people have taken financial contributions. And that, by the way, is an attack on President Obama. Let's be very clear. The Secretary of State does not get to indict people. So the complaint that there were not criminal prosecutions has literally zero to do with Secretary Clinton. It's an attack on President Obama. I wanted there to be more prosecutions. There were policy choices I disagreed with but Senator Sanders' consistent suggesting that somehow people were persuaded not to do that because of campaign contributions is, as I said, it's a kind of McCarthyism.
. . .
ROBERT REICH: You know, in 2008, the biggest five -- the five biggest banks had 33% of total banking assets. Today the five biggest banks have 44% of total biggest assets and if they were too big to fail then, they're too big to fail, they're too big to jail, they're too big to curtail. They have too much political power as well as economic power.
FRANK: That's not the issue.
FRANK: You misunderstand, you misunderstand.
REICH: Well, no wait a minute, political power is part of the issue . . . With all due respect --
FRANK: No, I'm talking. With all due respect, you don't like the point. What they do --
REICH: It's not just economics here. We're also talking about political --
FRANK: Okay, but I want to talk about economics. I understand that. But you don't like the economics because it goes against your argument . . . Mr. Reich, you don't want me to make the point about your economic mistake, and I understand that. It may be embarrassing.
. . .
REICH: The Federal Reserve bank president in Dallas said the big banks have to be broken up. Sandy Weill thinks the big banks ought to be broken up. This is not a fringe idea.
FRANK: I didn't say it was a fringe idea. What I'm saying is this, and you're evading my point again. If you believe the banks ought to be broken up, by the way, most federal officials do not think you have to break up the banks. We think we have to control their indebtedness. And that, again, is a point you seem to miss.