It is so obvious, no one who ventures even a casual look should miss it. The Republicans have been engaging in a well-orchestrated program to get Hillary! Two years ago when party leaders took a look at the political landscape that would be culminated in the Presidential election of 2016, it was obvious that the Democrats had a single candidate who was almost unbeatable. The country was ready for a woman. The national demographics were forcing the GOP into a corner occupied basically by conservative white males. Hillary’s preparation for the job as a US Senator and Secretary of State provided sterling qualifications. The conclusion was obvious. She had to be destroyed.
To that end, weekly talking points went out to every sector of the Republican Party’s public relations system. Get Hillary! It started with Russ Limbaugh and the other AM radio talk show hosts. Fox news majored in supporting the assault. But where would they get the ammunition needed to sustain an attack? The first shots of the campaign centered on the way she stood by Bill during his Monica debacle. But that was old stuff, and had lost its traction. Something new had to be unearthed.
Two items provided the fresh focus of the Get Hillary campaign. The first was the terrorist attack at Benghazi where four Americans were killed, including the US Ambassador to Libya. It was immediately suggested that a damaging video was the cause of the attack. Only a day later came the conclusion that the attack was just another evidence of rampant terrorism. It was never clear whether the video was considered by fundamentalist Muslims as blasphemous, and if that contributed to their anger. At any rate, Hillary’s role was peripheral at best. But she was blamed for the death of the Americans, even though there was no evidence of her involvement. Repeat a distortion enough times and some people will take it as fact. It worked for a while. Then it became clear that the whole reason for the Benghazi emphasis was part of an orchestrated plan to hurt Hillary’s poll numbers.
The more telling issue centered on her use of one server for both her personal and her government e-mails. While not a common practice, this shortcut has often been employed by officials of both parties. The question is: does this procedure by the Secretary of State make classified government matters vulnerable to outside cyber attack? While there is yet no evidence that any classified material was at risk, the matter became raw meat in the Get Hillary campaign. Hillary’s stumbling over the issue was not helpful, and there is still a lingering doubt that the whole story has been told.
Having come across this open sore, instead of dealing with it on its merits, the Republicans have sought to exacerbate the extent of the lesion and turn it into a major character defect. Now the GOP’s talking points are using the words, “untrustworthy” and “dishonest.” If there is anything that will frighten away a pretty good slice of the American people, it is a suspicion that a candidate is not to be trusted. While we might expect that this attack would have the effect of rallying the GOP loyalists, there has been another serious result. According to recent polls, a growing number of Democrats, including a sizable corps of women, now wonder if Hillary is untrustworthy.
And now, a little over a year from the election, the Get Hillary campaign is in full swing. There are those who wonder if she can survive the continued attacks. At this point the long-term results are not clear. What she and her colleagues do to counter the fusillade is not yet apparent. Whatever counterattack is appropriate needs to be launched with all deliberate speed. These things have a way of escalating if left unchecked. But whoever said that politics was a clinically pure pursuit?