Saturday, February 06, 2016

The Right Baits the Left to Turn Against Hillary

I admit that I like some of Bernie Sanders' proposals - especially a single payer national health program which would put America among other advanced nations and likely slash healthcare costs in the long run - but I still worry about his electability.  Apparently the GOP and the right wing also doubt that he could win in a general election and hence their insidious efforts to turn Democrats and liberals against Hillary Clinton.  Yes, they hate Hillary and have done so for many years, but their calculation appears to be that she'd be more difficult to defeat in November.  The last thing we need is a GOP victory in November!  A piece in the New York Times looks the right's agenda.  Here are highlights that ought to make progressives and liberals take pause and not allow themselves to be played for fools by right :

“You expect different from a Clinton?” one person responded on Twitter. And from another: “Did you need another reason not to vote for Hillary Clinton?” Lost in the response was the source of the offending tweet. It was not another environmental organization or even a liberal challenger to Mrs. Clinton. Instead, it was a conservative group called America Rising PAC, which is trying, with laserlike focus, to weaken the woman who almost everyone believes will be the Democratic Party’s candidate for president in 2016.

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.

Information travels at warp speed on social media, it is sometimes difficult to know where that information comes from, and most people like to read things with which they agree. The result, said Ken Goldstein, a professor of politics at the University of San Francisco who specializes in political advertising, is something more sophisticated.

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.
Laura Hart Cole of Verbank, N.Y., whose father, Philip A. Hart, was a senator from Michigan and a liberal icon, was shocked to learn that she had, like Mr. McKibben, shared the meme from America Rising on Twitter. Republican groups, she said, “have a history of sleazy tactics.” 

Conservative strategists and operatives say they are simply filling a vacuum on the far left, as well as applying the lesson they learned in 2012, when they watched in frustration as Mitt Romney was forced to expend time and resources in a protracted primary fight.

Few Republicans are more familiar with that nightmare than Matt Rhoades, who was Mr. Romney’s campaign manager. He founded America Rising . . . . The group’s original goal was to compete with American Bridge, the Democratic opposition research group, but its focus under Mr. Rhoades has been to subject Mrs. Clinton to an ordeal similar to Mr. Romney’s.

“The idea is to make her life difficult in the primary and challenge her from the left,” said Colin Reed, America Rising’s executive director. “We don’t want her to enter the general election not having been pushed from the left, so if we have opportunities — creative ways, especially online — to push her from the left, we’ll do it just to show those folks who she needs to turn out that she’s not in line with them.”

Steven Law, president of American Crossroads, said the goal was simply to erode what should be her natural core of support.

“It can diminish enthusiasm for Hillary among the base over time,” he said. “And if you diminish enthusiasm, lukewarm support can translate into lackluster fund-raising and perhaps diminished turnout down the road.

This year, Zac Moffatt, a co-founder of Targeted Victory, a right-leaning political technology firm, who handled Mr. Romney’s digital operation and has worked with groups like America Rising and American Crossroads, laid out the strategy in a memo to several clients.

Other groups are also using micro-targeted advertising to inject their content into the Facebook and Twitter news feeds of “liberal Democrats,” environmentalists and declared supporters of Ms. Warren, among others.

And even some of those unhappy with Mrs. Clinton, like Joel Gombiner of Brooklyn — who posted the “Did you need another reason?” response to the Twitter message shared by Mr. McKibben — think the conservative groups may be outsmarting themselves.

“They view this as a means of weakening the Democratic Party and weakening the chance in a presidential election,” said Mr. Gombiner, 26. But “that’s the whole point of a democracy, that the arguments make you stronger.”

My response?  I think I will put a Hillary bumper sticker on my car this morning.  Anything involving Karl Rove, et al, cannot be good for America.

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