Earlier this week, Hillary Clinton’s SuperPAC, Correct The Record, sent out an email that tried to smear Bernie Sanders as a terrorist loving “commie”-esque socialist with a radical agenda.
The email tried to use guilt by descriptive association, that is, Sanders being a socialist makes him identical to and responsible for all things that have ever been said by Jeremy Corbyn, the UK’s new socialist Labour Party leader.
Corbyn has espoused some very provocative things along the way. These include calling the killing of Bin Laden a tragedy because the U.S. didn’t try to capture him alive, referring to Hezbollah as friends that he would like to meet with to discuss Middle East policies and putting blame on NATO’s growth for provoking Russia into becoming more aggressive and invading Ukraine.
Also, after Hurricane Katrina caused oil prices to skyrocket in 2005, Venezuela’s leader Hugo Chavez began a program through the national oil company, CITGO, that provided low cost heating oil to the poor in a number of U.S. states.
Sanders responded to Chavez with gratitude on behalf of Vermonters who were benefiting from this program but Correct The Record wants people to believe that this was actually the socialist Sanders cuddling up with his fellow evil socialist Chavez…because socialists are all alike.
For the record, according to CITGO, this continuing program that’s been running for nine years has so far helped more than 1.8 million poor Americans in various states receive badly needed discounted heating oil. In other words, “Damn commies!”
Correct The Record also tried to spin different positions and votes of Sanders to distort them into appearing anti-American.
The person running the Hillary Clinton SuperPAC, Correct the Record is David Brock. He also heads up the watchdog group, Media Matters and another SuperPAC, American Bridge. Years ago he was a staunch critic of Hillary’s but transformed along the way to become a fervent supporter.
What may be surprising is that instead of the Republicans trying to push the envelope on post-Citizens United limitations on SuperPACS, it is in fact Brock and Correct The Record that are admittedly testing the boundaries by coordinating with Hillary Clinton directly through areas they see as loopholes. So, since CTR coordinates its actions with her, Hillary Clinton’s fingerprints are indeed on this email (hasn’t she had enough trouble with emails?).
Bernie Sanders vowed not to campaign negatively against Hillary Clinton and his other Democratic opponents, instead to focus only on policies and issues.
Up until this email, Hillary has acted similarly towards Sanders but with the drumbeat of reports about Hillary sinking in the polls, being untrusted by many in the public and losing in polls in Iowa and New Hampshire against an ascending Sanders, apparently she and Brock determined it was time to test the waters on smearing Sanders (in a way that she could have plausible deniability).
Consider that this SuperPAC, ironically named Correct The Record, intentionally has tried to distort and mischaracterize “the record” when it comes to Sanders. Despite their allegedly heroic dedication to exploding lies about Hillary and revealing the truth, they have now proven themselves to use the same tactics as their propagandist foes.
Correct The Record has obliviously painted themselves as Swiftboaters who can’t be trusted to provide the truth and that boomerangs back on them when it comes to their legitimate defenses of Hillary. They have disqualified their critical position in Hillary’s campaign, seemingly out of their and Hillary’s panic and desperation over her decline and Sanders’ ascent and foolishly have done so with the people they most need to believe in them…fellow Democrats.
And in this era of Trumperfection, where politicians and their operatives no longer see any profit in apologizing for saying the wrong thing, Brock became very slippery when pressed on the dishonesty of his email (and other Hillary-defensive comments):
Again, this is a SuperPAC run by one of Hillary’s strongest allies and supporters, who coordinates with Hillary and her campaign, which sent out a dishonest smear against Sanders who hasn’t criticized Hillary once.
It is kind of astounding that Hillary and Brock could be so tone deaf at this point in time. First, Hillary is having to fight the impression that many voters have of her as being dishonest. Secondly, what voters on both sides of the aisle are clearly revolting against right now is politics as usual including devious negative ads and campaigns. Voters are yearning for authenticity and honesty (even if that is terribly misplaced in Republicans supporting Donald Trump).
The energized supporters of Sanders rally around him because they believe that he is addressing truths about the inequities of our society, they place a high value on truth and honesty. They are not going to be attracted to someone who uses dishonest attacks against their current candidate of choice.
Up until now, though there has been a degree of polarization between Hillary and Bernie supporters, a majority of Bernie supporters appear to be fine with voting for Hillary if she is the eventual nominee.
However, just as Hillary alienated many Obama supporters in the 2008 primary by trying to smear him with Reverend Wright/unAmericanism and other falsehoods (like not strongly affirming that she believed Obama was an American citizen when the Birther crap first whipped up), Hillary’s and her SuperPAC’s attempts to improve her polling in this way may have the opposite effect.
One need only review Correct The Record’s Facebook page to see that this email attack has stoked a great deal of animosity from Bernie supporters towards Hillary and Correct The Record. How counterproductive might this and future attempts to dishonestly smear Sanders be? Consider that most of the recent posts on Facebook by CTR to “correct the record” or attack Republican candidates have only been met with replies by Sanders supporters about how unethical, disrespectful and dishonest CTR and Hillary are.
An argument against both Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush is that they are outdated legacy candidates, each feeling an entitlement to their party’s nomination due to the Presidencies previously held by their families, each using the same campaigning tactics of the past of massive fundraising from big corporate donors and pandering to the base in their primaries with plans to move to the middle in the General Election.
If this truly is an era of a more enlightened public that recognizes the way the game of politics has been played for decades and is turned off by the dishonesty and corruption that is typically personified by establishment politicians, then affirming that she is indeed this same type of politician who is playing the same dishonest games the public is tired of, can only hurt Hillary Clinton.
So far, it appears that Hillary’s toolkit for politics is the same old one that has been turning off voters. It’s not one that works well in this cycle but they may be the only tools she knows how to use. The inauthentic way she presents herself, alternately now as a Progressive then a Moderate, her dancing around the email server issue that has harmed her image far worse than just saying, “My bad!” at the outset and now this CTR email (which could be the start of an ongoing smear campaign against Sanders) are all suggesting that Hillary may be a far more self-destructive candidate than her campaign understands.
In 2008, it was Hillary’s dishonesty about herself (remember her fabrication about being shot at on the tarmac in Bosnia) and Obama, her anti-democratic attempt to rig the primary so she could win it through Superdelegates despite losing more caucuses and elections to Obama and her sense of entitlement to the nomination and Presidency (and outrage at those like Obama who challenged it) that helped her grab defeat from the jaws of victory back then.
In this cycle, she has shown only superficial changes to the way she campaigns, there are many reminders this year of the way she campaigned unsuccessfully last time. Yes, she might have learned to be more tactical in scooping up many Superdelegates early this time and not be caught as unaware of being beaten in the small states and caucuses as Obama successfully planned but behind-the-scenes tactics aside, she is presenting herself to Democratic voters once again in a questionable ethical light at a time when they most want an honest and ethical candidate that is genuinely concerned about the issues they care most about.
It would be ironic if the SuperPACs that Citizens United created, that represent such a huge threat to maintaining a democracy over a plutocracy, were the cause of politicians losing the votes they thought their SuperPACs would buy. If Hillary Clinton continues to use David Brock and Correct The Record as a beard to smear Sanders, pretending not to be campaigning negatively against him while doing so, she may not only disqualify herself with a huge swath of Democratic voters not currently supporting her but also see history repeat itself when the winner of the 2016 Democratic Primaries is determined.