We all knew Tuesday afternoon’s flame war between their camps was going to come up during Wednesday’s Democratic town hall in New Hampshire. CNN’s Anderson Cooper second question of Clinton was to respond to Sanders’s assertion that she is a progressive only on “some days.”
“You asked me this question in the first debate,” she said, “and I said, ‘I’m a progressive who likes to get things done.’ ... I was somewhat amused today that Senator Sanders has set himself up as the gatekeeper of who gets to be a progressive. Under the definitions that have been flying around on Twitter ... President Obama would not be a progressive. Joe Biden would not be a progressive. ... I’m not going to let that bother me, I know what I stand for, I know what I’ve done. Clearly we all share a lot of the same hopes and aspirations we want for our country we want to see achieved.”
Her answer was smart politically, insofar as it aligned her with a president who remains very popular with Democrats. The thrust of her argument, though, says more about her own conception of progressivism than it does about Sanders’s reluctance to include her in that movement. Obama and Biden aren’t progressives. They’re centrist liberals with hawkish foreign policy instincts. In that sense, they are indeed like Clinton.