The Return of the Politics of Personal Destruction

During the Clinton years, Newt Gingrich and Ken Starr were household names vilified as Republican Torquemadas. During the Bush years, the Democrats turned the Republicans into the party of Trent Lott, Tom DeLay, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and Mark Foley. It was this type of politics that candidate Barack Obama campaigned to end. In fact, Obama was often quoted saying we need to get away from ideology and work together. But that must have been the teleprompters talking. Not yet into his first hundred days in office, Barack Obama and his political advisors have proven themselves to be a most ideologically liberal administration practicing the politics of personal destruction against anyone who dares to challenge them — even their own. They would have us believe they are defending the country from Rush Limbaugh, Congressman Eric Cantor, and a relatively unknown private citizen named Rick Scott.

Sustained attacks on character as proxies for assaults on policy are a consistent left-wing construct. Conservatives have lately pointed out these attacks are derived from Rules for Radicals, the book written by leftist agitator Saul Alinsky, of whom both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are students. Alinsky wrote “the greatest enemy of individual freedom is the individual himself” and encouraged radicals to “go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)”

That Barack Obama would participate in attacks against Rush Limbaugh and Eric Cantor shows how much a student of the left he is. In less than one hundred days, Barack Obama has proven himself to be the most ideological President in American history — far more ideological than his predecessor who dabbled in liberal pablum like “No Child Left Behind” and the prescription drug benefit. Obama has yet to propose and pursue any policy that is not a bedrock leftist idea. Use of the word “and” is necessary because Obama tends to propose some moderate policies, but he only pushes for those on the left.

As Barack Obama and his left-wing allies push left, they rely heavily on leftist agitprop and character assassination to obfuscate issues and distract from their policy objectives. Ben Smith, writing in the Politico, tells us Barack Obama’s allies meet every morning by conference call at 8:45 a.m. to build their talking points. The calls operate as a left-wing character assassination squad run by John Podesta of the Center for American Progress (“CAP”). Podesta was also Co-Chairman of the Obama-Biden Transition Project. In addition, CAP’s political wing runs a website called Think Progress, which coordinates online messaging among leftwing bloggers.

The character assassinations began less than a week after Barack Obama moved into the White House. Obama told Congressional Republicans “You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done”. John Podesta then attacked Limbaugh, distorting Limbaugh’s statement the he wanted Obama to fail if Obama a socialist agenda. Next, Americans United for Change ran advertisements declaring Rush Limbaugh the “real leader” of the Republican Party.

After attacking Limbaugh, Barack Obama and his minion turned their sights on Congressman Eric Cantor, the highly effective Republican Whip. Patrick O’Connor, writing at the Politico, noted, “At last month’s White House summit on entitlement reform, Obama painted Cantor as a poster child for obstructionism.” Anti-semitic attacks, which started when Cantor was named a potential Vice Presidential nominee in 2008, have returned in the form of robo-calls in Virginia. In 2008, the attacks, featured on the Democratic National Committee’s website, stated that “both [Jack] Abramoff and Cantor are Jewish.” The new attacks hit both Cantor and his wife. Americans United for Change ran advertisements tying Cantor to Rush Limbaugh.

The Politico, earlier this year, ran two articles about coordination between White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, James Carville, Paul Begala, and ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos. One article noted the four trade regular phone calls. Emanuel told the Politico the calls “are about what’s happening, what the implications are of what’s happening and what’s going on.” Another alluded to Carville, Begala, and Emanuel working to turn Limbaugh into a target. Shortly after Obama picked fights with Limbaugh and Cantor, Stephanopoulos reported Cantor had “repudiated” Limbaugh on This Week. In fact, Stephanopoulos had selectively quoted his interview with Cantor to make the case — leaving out that Cantor had actually reiterated Rush Limbaugh’s key points from Rush’s now famous CPAC speech.

Conservatives are not the only targets. Americans United for Change and MoveOn.org attacked Democratic Senators Evan Bayh and Mark Pryor after both expressed reservations about the White House budget. The groups have become what one reporter called “the White House’s chief third-party operation.”

Now Obama’s minion have begun attacking private citizens. Obama promised to lower healthcare costs. His preferred policy is to drive up private healthcare costs so public healthcare looks cheaper in comparison. Rick Scott, the former President and CEO of Columbia/HCA, founded Conservatives for Patients’ Rights to defend the free market healthcare system from the White House’s policy prescription. Instead of attacking his arguments or advancing their own arguments, the left coordinated an attack against Mr. Scott personally. The coordination began on one of Mr. Podesta’s 8:45 a.m. calls.

On March 3, 2009, Jonathan Cohn wrote at the New Republic that Scott is “public enemy number one.” Ezra Klein, who also coordinates attacks against the right with journalists on a private email list, then took to the American Prospect to attack Scott for business practices at HCA. Two days later, John Podesta, on Fox News, tried dodging a question Rick Scott had raised about the costs of Obama’s program by smearing Scott. On March 11th, Christopher Hayes parroted his left-wing brethren at the Nation writing, “Having Scott lead the charge against healthcare reform is like tapping Bernie Madoff to campaign against tighter securities regulation.”

As his record in both the Illinois General Assembly and U.S. Senate showed, Barack Obama has yet to deviate from his leftist ideological underpinnings. To distract the still center-right American public from an agenda he refused to discuss with them in detail on the campaign trail, Barack Obama has personally revived what Bill Clinton called “the politics of personal destruction.” While many conservatives talk, often eloquently and truthfully about Obama taking us down the road to socialism, his coordinated character assassination campaign against anyone who disagrees with him strikes of Soviet style politics. Saul Allinsky would be proud.

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