Bernie Sanders’ big brother ripped Bill Clinton in an interview published Friday — saying that people forget what a lousy president he was because they’re too preoccupied with his sordid sex life.
“Is Bill really such a terrible rapist — or is he a nice rapist?” Larry Sanders told The Daily Beast, asking the question he said is on most people’s minds when it comes to the former president, whose wife, Hillary, is in a showdown with Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Larry Sanders, 80, called Hillary Clinton’s moderate politics “feeble” — but saved most of his wrath for her husband during the interview at his home in Oxford, England.
“Bill Clinton has leapt in to try and make it personal with Bernard. He was a dreadful president — in general — for poor people,” the elder Sanders said.
Clinton was more to blame for the country’s problems than either George H.W. Bush or George W. Bush, he said, referring to welfare reform, a tough crime bill and trade agreements that both Clintons supported.
‘The imprisonment stuff stems back to him, the breaking up of the welfare system stems back to him, which caused a lot of misery, the trade deals — the NAFTA, a lot of bad key policies didn’t come in under the Bushes,” he said.
“The media have a lot to answer for, I think, you don’t get that detailed discussion. You get: ‘Is Hillary a nice person? Is Bill really such a terrible rapist or is he a nice rapist?’ It’s at that level the discussion — so you can imagine that people could have a pleasant opinion but not based on the actual policies.”
He said neither he nor his brother has any personal animosity toward Hillary.
“I certainly don’t dislike her — Bernard has been very clear to say he likes her and respects her but they have big differences on policy,” he said. “They’re not friends, but they’re people who worked near each other for 20 years.”
The brothers have lived on opposite sides of the Atlantic for decades, but still stay in touch, he said, speaking frequently about Bernie’s presidential bid.
“He’ll say, ‘I’m tired. It’s sooooo haaaard.’ So I say, ‘But it’s going great?’ and he says, ‘Yes, it’s going great,’” he said. “I’m the outlet for that — I’m not sure he’s even saying that to his wife.”
His brother, Larry said, has definitely put a dent in Hillary Clinton’s mantle of invincibility.
“They must feel like they are up against a juggernaut at the moment — it is astonishing with their [the Clintons’] huge array of elected officials, party officials, and so on. And Bernie comes along and says they got it wrong. Not drastically, not as bad as the Republicans, but they got it wrong. And people are saying: ‘Oh, yeah.’ And they must feel — how did that happen?” the elder Sanders said.
“If that money hadn’t been turning up from small donors, the whole thing would have fizzled, and that I’m not sure [Bernie] understood. He thought from the people he talked to it was possible, but nobody predicted how successful he could be.”
Bernie Sanders, 74, won’t shy away from a fight if he actually wins his longshot bid for the White House, he added.
“He’ll flex his muscles,” Larry said. “I mean this is not cowboy stuff, there are very intricate constitutional discussions, [but] he won’t hesitate, if he thinks he’s got the constitutional power to do something — he will do it.”
His brother, Larry said, always told him he was more concerned about the socialist causes he supports than his own career.
“What he said to me very clearly was: ‘I don’t mind running and making a fool of myself, I’ve been humiliated before — I’ll go back to doing the job I love, no big sweat, but if I do badly, then everyone will say: ‘See, I told you, nobody is interested in that crap.’ And for a generation, those ideas and the millions of people he thinks need those ideas will be wiped out,” Larry said.