The GOP’s Long Game to Bait the Left into Turning Against Hillary Clinton

by SottoVoce –

hillary clinton 12

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”
—Winston Churchill

I think we can all agree that the GOP is terrible at governing.  Also, their ideas are lousy.  Their economic plans are fantasy-based and have repeatedly been proven not to work; their views on social issues are antiquated and cruel and play to an ever-shrinking base; their denial of scientific evidence is dangerous and becoming more and more difficult to peddle, and their knowledge of international affairs is embarrassingly skimpy.

Since the facts don’t work for them, they have to bolster their electoral prospects with the things they are really good at: creating propaganda and dirty tricks.  From framing issues, to presenting a unified messaging front to working under the radar to spending their money in secretive ways, the GOP knows how to distort the truth and spread their message.

They have applied these skills to a years-long, expensive, sophisticated, insidious game to bait the left into believing and delivering their anti-Clinton message.  And it’s working pretty darn well.

When Mitt Romney lost the election, the GOP looked at the potential field of Democratic candidates, and determined that Hillary Clinton was most likely to be the Democratic choice for 2016.  Beginning then, a number of conservative groups, including American Crossroads–created by Karl Rove–and America Rising, set to work to develop messaging that would damage her with voters on the left.

The effort to vilify Mrs. Clinton could ultimately cost several hundred million dollars, given the variety and volume of political organizations involved.

Because the Clintons have been in the public eye for so long, and have weathered so many scandals (many of them having proven to be nothing but empty political attacks) American Crossroads knew that they’d have to create and test messaging that would break through to the public.  To that end, they gathered focus groups of voters they consider susceptible,

an all-white mix of young men, low-income adults, married mothers and politically moderate women….They showed the voters, who received $100, sandwiches and soft drinks for their time, more than a dozen 30-second ads.
The ads highlighted Mrs. Clinton’s deleting of emails from her private account, tried to tie her to President Obama, portrayed her as distant from middle-class Americans and sought to persuade women that they do not need to support her because of her gender.But many, essentially, struck the same theme, depicting Mrs. Clinton as untrustworthy.

They gathered responses from these paid testers, and with the cumulative information, determined that the words “untrustworthy”, “corporatist” “out of touch with ordinary people” and so forth, should form the basis of their attacks.Using the keywords they discovered had sticking power, they used them in every publication, ever utterance by talking heads, every press release, etc., and they have become wallpaper now.  The left has eagerly joined in using them.  But perhaps even more insidious, they have created tweets and other online content that appears to originate from the left, and have sent them on to be retweeted and forwarded widely.

For months now, America Rising has sent out a steady stream of posts on social media attacking Mrs. Clinton, some of them specifically designed to be spotted, and shared, by liberals. The posts highlight critiques of her connections to Wall Street and the Clinton Foundation and feature images of Democrats like Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, interspersed with cartoon characters and pictures of Kevin Spacey, who plays the villain in “House of Cards.” And as they are read and shared, an anti-Clinton narrative is reinforced.America Rising is not the only conservative group attacking Mrs. Clinton from the left. Another is American Crossroads, the group started by Karl Rove, which has been sending out its own digital content, including one ad using a speech Ms. Warren gave at the New Populism Conference in Washington last May.

In the fast-moving online universe people read, share and pass on information, often without checking the source.  Thus, criticism of Hillary created by right-wing superPACs gives the appearance of originating on the left.  Certainly, the keywords mentioned above, and the use of Elizabeth Warren–for one example–to discredit Hillary, has been frequently seen here and elsewhere on the left.Sometimes, errors are caught.

The tactic is making for some awkward moments online. The A.F.L.-C.I.O. sent to its more than 60,000 followers an America Rising tweet praising its president, Richard L. Trumka, for a speech that was seen as challenging Mrs. Clinton on economic issues, only to take it down a few hours later, saying it was a mistake.

Sometimes, however, the errors go unnoticed, or the communication spreads too widely to be recalled.  If Rove and his cohorts have created a meme (at great expense) that serves the anti-Hillary forces on the left, why be fastidious about checking the source?I offer these articles from the New York Times, because they are not known to be friends of Hillary.  If the Times is willing to reveal the inner workings of the REAL opposition–the Republican propaganda generating super PACs–perhaps the practice and its success is widespread enough that we should pay attention, no matter which Democratic candidate we prefer.  We should consider the source of our critiques, examine them for specifics, avoid using broad brush language that has been created by the Republicans, and not let Karl Rove make our decisions for us.

This is not a diary about Bernie vs. Hillary.  This is a diary about the work those on the Right are doing to influence our electoral communications and decision-making.  If Bernie becomes the nominee, you can be certain they’ll do the same thing to him.  (Perhaps they already are…..)

 

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

 

Posted By: Keith

Writer, political junkie, rabid rock music fan, amateur gardener, astronomer and ornithologist, cook extraordinaire, sipper of fine wine and, more than once, the funniest guy in the room.

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