At Wednesday night's Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton attacked Bernie Sanders for praising Fidel Castro in the 1980s, as well as for standing with Central American governments and rebel groups targeted by Ronald Reagan's brutal covert wars. "You know," said the former secretary of state, "if the values are that you oppress people, you disappear people, imprison people or even kill people for expressing their opinions, for expressing freedom of speech, that is not the kind of revolution of values that I ever want to see anywhere."
To defend her remarks, Clinton's faithful Good Democratic supporters began instantly spouting rhetoric that sounded like a right-wing, red-baiting Cold War cartoon; in other words, these Clinton-defending Democrats sounded very much like this:
Vehement opposition to Reagan's covert wars in Central America, as well as to the sadistic and senseless embargo of Cuba, were once standard liberal positions. As my colleague Jeremy Scahill, observing the reaction of Clinton supporters during the debate, put it in a series of tweets: "The U.S. sponsored death squads that massacred countless central and Latin Americans, murdered nuns and priests, assassinated an Archbishop. I bet commie Sanders was even against Reagan's humanitarian mining of Nicaraguan waters & supported subsequent war crimes judgment vs. U.S. Have any of these Hillarybots heard of the Contra death squads? Or is it just that whatever Hillary says must be defended at all costs? The Hillarybots attacking Sanders over Nicaragua should be ashamed of themselves."
Let's pretend for the sake of argument that the horror expressed by Clinton and her supporters over Sanders' 1980s positions on Latin America was all driven by some sort of authentic outrage over praising tyrants and human rights abusers rather than a cynical, craven tactic to undermine Sanders using long-standing right-wing, red-baiting smears. Is Hillary Clinton a credible voice for condemning support for despots and human rights abusers? To answer that, let's review much more recent evidence than the 1980s: