At Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate, one of the most heated exchanges concerned an unlikely topic: Henry Kissinger. During a stretch focused on foreign policy, Bernie Sanders, the senator from Vermont, jabbed at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for having cited Kissinger, who was Richard Nixon's secretary of state, as a fan of her stint at Foggy Bottom.
"I happen to believe that Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country," Sanders huffed, adding, "I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger." He referred to the secret bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam war as a Kissinger-orchestrated move that eventually led to genocide in that country. "So count me in as somebody who will not be listening to Henry Kissinger," Sanders roared. Clinton defended her association with Kissinger by replying, "I listen to a wide variety of voices that have expertise in various areas." She cast her interactions with Kissinger as motivated by her desire to obtain any information that might be useful to craft policy. "People we may disagree with on a number of things may have some insight, may have some relationships that are important for the president to understand in order to best protect the United States," she said.
What Clinton did not mention was that her bond with Kissinger was personal as well as professional, as she and her husband have for years regularly spent their winter holidays with Kissinger and his wife, Nancy, at the beachfront villa of fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, who died in 2014, and his wife, Annette, in the Dominican Republic.