This week Hillary Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, went on the attack against Bernie Sanders. This was rather bizarre because the Clintons have made it their life's calling to keep their homely git out of the hurly-burly of politics, because she was called out to attack Bernie Sanders, and because her attack was nonsense.
During a campaign appearance in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Chelsea offered a version of these arguments -- but went a little further.
"Sen. Sanders wants to dismantle Obamacare, dismantle the [Children's Health Insurance Program], dismantle Medicare, and dismantle private insurance," she said, according to an account from NBC News. "I worry if we give Republicans Democratic permission to do that, we'll go back to an era -- before we had the Affordable Care Act -- that would strip millions and millions and millions of people off their health insurance."
It's true that, under a scheme like the one Sanders envisions, most people would lose the insurance they have today. But that's because everybody would have the new government-provided insurance instead. And while the transition from the old system to a new one would be far more complicated than single-payer advocates like to acknowledge, the whole point of a single-payer plan is to make sure that coverage is simpler, more comprehensive and more reliable than it is today.
If anything, a single-payer plan like the one Sanders envisions would result in morecoverage than current arrangements would allow. The Affordable Care Act has produced a historic reduction in the number of people without coverage, but something like 9 or 10 percent of Americans remain uninsured. One reason is that the system depends upon people signing up for insurance. The Sanders bill states quite explicitly that "every individual who is a resident of the United States is entitled" to insurance, and then requires the states to enroll people automatically.
Across the board Democrats thought using Chelsea Clinton for this was a bad idea.
Democrats have almost universally panned the attack, believing it to be ineffective and a misuse of her talents.
They note that Chelsea Clinton has mostly been used to highlight Hillary Clinton’s softer side as a mother and grandmother and say she seemed uncomfortable shedding her first daughter persona for the role of attack dog.
“The thing that tells you as much as anything about [the Clinton campaign’s] current state of mind is Chelsea going on the attack. It tells you everything you need to know,” said one Democratic strategist. “That this [challenge from Sanders] is real and they’ve got to be freaking out.”
The attack caught many Democrats, including Sanders and his supporters, by surprise.
Following Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, CNN played the clip of Chelsea Clinton’s criticism directly to Sanders. The Vermont senator held back a wry smile as he offered a measured rebuke of Chelsea, who is nearly 40 years his junior.
“As much as I admire Chelsea, she didn’t read the plan,” he said.
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who is one of only two members of Congress who has endorsed Sanders for president, told The Hill the attacks are a sign the Clinton campaign is worried about Sanders’s rise in Iowa and New Hampshire.
“I perhaps could see it coming from Bill, but I was taken aback hearing it from Chelsea,” said Grijalva, who backed President Obama over Hillary Clinton in 2008 after first endorsing John Edwards.
“I was surprised and thought it was out of character. It seems the Clinton campaign is going into full destruction mode very early in this process.”
Clinton has usually used Chelsea as a prop to convince us that she is vaguely human and sorta female because everyone relates to a deranged old lady shouting incoherently from a dark corner. In fact, it initially seemed that Hillary had put Chelsea on a forced impregnation program so she would be able to welcome another grandchild this summer and create media buzz off that event.
Them bringing out Chelsea as an attack dog surrogate belies the desperate straits of the Clinton campaign. They could very well end up losing IA and NH to Sanders. In fact, Clinton's national lead is disappearing faster in 2016 than it did in 2008.
There is no room left for even the tiniest bit of propriety or decency.