Pin It
Favorite

Smear Tactics 

Donald Trump is busy doing what Republicans do best — smearing his opponents

The GOP doesn't know what to do with "The Donald." He says outrageous things about Mexicans, then unabashedly comes right back and claims that they love him. And his poll numbers rise. He makes Jeb Bush look like a boring has-been, dismisses all the other Republican candidates as numbskulls — or worse. And his poll numbers rise even higher. He smears the war record of John McCain. And you know what happens.

click to enlarge herold.jpg

Trump comes across as exactly what he is — a name-dropping, egotistical, uninformed, bombastic showman. But he isn't an original. Winning by discrediting your opponent through a big smear is right there on the first page in the Republican playbook. Republicans working for George W. Bush even used the big smear to discredit McCain (considered an outsider) in 2000. Then came the Swift Boat smears directed at John Kerry in 2004. Along the way, they smeared the war records of Max Cleland (whose wounds suffered in Vietnam cost him both legs and a forearm) and John Murtha. In Republicanland, if smears, it domineers.

What goes around seems to be coming around. Some fun with that, yes indeed; but sooner or later, Trump will return to his charge that Hillary Clinton was "the worst Secretary of State in history." And when it comes to smearing opponents, Trump is unique; he creates his own shifting realities.

Whoever emerges, whatever their differences, the trail of smears will lead back to Benghazi. The other day I received in the mail a communication from the right-wing Judicial Watch. It came with a bumper sticker that reads: "Four Americans Died and Hillary Lied."

So what happened that night? Here is an excerpt from then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's testimony:

"On that tragic day, as always, the Department of Defense was prepared for a wide range of contingencies. I remind you that the [National Counterterrorism Center] in the six months prior to that attack identified some 281 threats to U.S. diplomats, diplomatic facilities, embassies, ambassadors and consulates worldwide — and obviously, Benghazi was one of those almost 300 areas of concern. But, unfortunately, there was no specific intelligence or indications of an imminent attack on that — U.S. facilities in Benghazi. And frankly, without an adequate warning, there was not enough time, given the speed of the attack, for armed military assets to respond. That's not just my view or General Dempsey's view. It was the view of the Accountability Review Board that studied what happened on that day."

By contrasting how our two parties respectively deal with dire situations, we learn much. Rolling the video backward, back to when Democrats were in charge of the House — back to 1983 — we find the Gipper at the helm, resolved to stand tall against those bad guys who were causing trouble in Lebanon. He opts for the old "banana republic" solution — send in a squad of Marines supported by a battleship.

Now, unlike Benghazi, where the ambassador himself was determined to head into harm's way, the President of the United States sent the Marines to Lebanon. Also note that Reagan's plan was openly opposed by his Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger, who told Reagan that "they had no mission but to sit at the airport in Beirut, which is just like sitting in a bull's-eye." Weinberger "begged the president at least to pull them back and put them back on their transports as a more defensible position."

But President Reagan stayed the course, and on Oct. 23, 1983, a suicide bomber killed 241 Marines, the deadliest day for the Marine Corps since Iwo Jima. Then Reagan made matters worse: He had the USS New Jersey shell Beirut, killing scores of civilians and heightening anti-American sentiments. Within six months, he pulled out all U.S. forces.

A presidential commission, headed up by retired Admiral Robert Long, criticized the Navy's chain of command for not providing a clear mission. But the report did not follow the trail of criticism inside the White House. It did make a number of specific recommendations, such as pointing out that in the future it might be a good idea to provide the Marine guards with loaded rifles.

But it's what didn't happen that's most instructive. In 1983, the House Democratic majority did nothing more. No investigations. No accusations. It was viewed as an American decision, not a Republican decision, and the tragedy was shared by all.

But Republicans and Benghazi, looking at four dead instead of 241? They have, as reported by the New Yorker, "kept up a drumbeat of insinuation" with 13 hearings, 25,000 pages of documents, and 50 briefings... which have turned up nothing unexpected." And you can count on it — there will be more to come, all with the sole intent of smearing Hillary Clinton.

Yes, in Republicanland, no matter who manages to shove The Donald to the side, the GOP game plan won't change: If it smears, it domineers. ♦

Tags:

  • Pin It

Latest in Comment

  • Children Will Listen
  • Children Will Listen

    How art speaks to life in this particular moment
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • So Here We Are
  • So Here We Are

    Here's hoping the new president fills the office with the grace and sense of tradition it requires
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • Get Big Money Out
  • Get Big Money Out

    Letters to the Editor
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • More »

Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

Today | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri
People Rise Up! A Community Invitation to Action

People Rise Up! A Community Invitation to Action @ Community Building

Sat., Jan. 21, 2-5 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Robert Herold

  • So Here We Are
  • So Here We Are

    Here's hoping the new president fills the office with the grace and sense of tradition it requires
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • One Free Shave
  • One Free Shave

    Donald Trump might have merited a honeymoon with voters had he managed his transition better
    • Dec 29, 2016
  • Migrant Industries
  • Migrant Industries

    John F. Kennedy predicted our current battles all the way back in 1954
    • Dec 15, 2016
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • One Free Shave

    Donald Trump might have merited a honeymoon with voters had he managed his transition better
    • Dec 29, 2016
  • The Landed and the White

    How Americans followed tradition when they voted for Trump
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Comment


Briefs


marijuana


green zone


Politics


Readers also liked…

  • To Kill the Black Snake
  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Experiments Gone Wrong
  • Experiments Gone Wrong

    The roots of frustration that led to last month's teacher walkouts run much deeper than class sizes
    • Jun 3, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation