Beware the Smear Campaigns Up and Down the Ticket

Republicans have stooped to new lows with smear campaigns.
Republican Attorneys General paid for this advertisement.

Much has already been documented about how Republicans play dirty – it’s really not news. What’s troubling is that idea when combined with the fact that they’ve lost their moral compass – which they’ve now confirmed by nominating a lying, cheating, racist, misogynist bloviator as their Presidential candidate.

And the sad reality is that smear campaigns and other ways of spreading misinformation seem to work.

Just today, Nobel Laureate Economist and New York Times contributor Paul Krugman wrote a thoughtful opinion piece, “Hillary Clinton Gets Gored.” His use of “Gored” is a double-entendre of inflicting wounds and Al Gore, the 2000 Democratic Presidential Nominee.  His point is that Hillary Clinton is getting treated to a misinformation campaign that eerily echoes the tactics Republicans employed to defeat Al Gore in the 2000 election.

Ultimately, the 2000 election came down to Florida and the state’s then-Secretary of State Katherine Harris certifying the election in favor of George W. Bush amid significant uncertainty, which was ultimately upheld by the conservative-leaning Supreme Court. But the campaign leading up to those dark days of November was fraught with sniping and misinformation that proved very effective at undercutting Al Gore’s credibility and consideration by independent voters.

The reason to worry about this election is the relentless witch hunt that the Republican Party has waged against Hillary Clinton is now showing up in shocking ways down ballot as well.

Case in point is this Twitter ad run in North Carolina by the Republican Attorneys General Association (@RAGA) to smear the very upright and respectable Josh Stein as a #vastconspiracyman and #extremeharvardradical.com. It’s the details behind this ad that should give pause, considering the 4 big reasons laid out below:

Josh Stein Ad2

  1. It’s being tweeted by the Republican Attorneys General Association. Attorneys are famously careful with their words (such word-parsing has put both President Bill Clinton and Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in hot water). And Attorneys General are attorneys first and public officials second, so they are especially careful with their words. Yet, this association representing those most-careful-of-the-careful is engaging in a smear campaign. In 2016.
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  2. This badly photoshopped unprofessional image was created by the “Carolinians for Freedom PAC,” which actually doesn’t seem to exist. And if it does exist, it has caveated this image as being “not endorsed by any candidate or candidate’s committee.” And even with that caveat, @RAGA thinks it’s okay to share this image? Who really is Carolinians for Freedom? Is that another Koch Brothers PAC? A proxy for the Ku Klux Klan or Nazi Party of America?
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  3. Look at those hashtags – so because Josh Stein opposes voter ID, they want you to believe he’s a vast conspiracy man (without offering any details to support it), and they take you to a shaky website http://extremeharvardradical.com/ that actually doesn’t establish anything other than he is Harvard-educated and opposes the 2013 voter ID law (now found to be unconstitutional).
    .
    Actually, the details they do provide support Mr. Stein’s viewpoint that voter fraud is not a problem, but Carolinians For Freedom are probably betting that the vast majority of people will not actually read the details. And while Stein’s graduate degree is from Harvard, Carolinians for Freedom have conveniently left out the fact that Stein was raised in North Carolina and came back to North Carolina after school to settle and raise his family.
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    By the way, that domain name is registered by someone in Arizona that clearly doesn’t want you to know who they are – see the Whois Domain Lookup. It’s quite like the ignorant, racist cowards hiding under white hoods and burning crosses on peoples’ front lawns.
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  1. Last, but not least, it’s noteworthy that this is a sponsored ad. That means it’s been paid for and geo-targeted so people in North Carolina can see it. Once again, it was @RAGA that paid for it. Keep in mind – that’s the association of the most careful of careful people who are bankrolling a shoddy, shaky, unsubstantiated claim delivered to anyone in North Carolina on Twitter.

Yes, those four points again confirm the idea that Republicans have lost their moral compass, but it also shows that their willingness to lie and cheat their way into office is not limited to the Presidential campaign. And that’s another reason to worry about the election – there are smear campaigns up and down the ticket.

How many people are willing to clear away the noise of posturing to really look at the candidates and vote accordingly? Let’s hope it’s a majority that does.

In the end, North Carolina does have one potentially saving grace – if our election does get hung up in uncertainty like in 2000, our Secretary of State is not the flamboyant and thinly experienced Republican Katherine Harris. We have the very serious, solid and quite experienced Democrat Elaine Marshall. And the current Supreme Court only has 4 Republican-nominated Justices because the Senate Republicans have stubbornly refused to confirm the nominated Merrick Garland. So if it came to that, the Supreme Court would probably end in a 4-4 tie.

Even after 16 years, Karma will have proven itself the ultimate equalizer.

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