The second biggest influence on today’s Republican party died in 2021. I sent him off with a post titled A Racist Pig Is Dead. Any guesses?
If you said Rush Limbaugh, you’d be right. The Impeached Insult Comedian besmirched the medal of freedom by hanging one around his neck. They were peas in a polluted pod.
Limbaugh didn’t invent political smears, but he perfected them. He was a master of the dubious art of kicking down. Trading low blows with his enemies was his forte. It pleased him to drag them down to his level. It can be lonely in the sewer with only Dittoheads for company.
Smears are as old as the Republic. Sometimes they were true such as the Thomas Jefferson/Sally Hemings story. Sometimes they were false: John Adams had no desire to restore a monarchy and create an Adams dynasty. Henry Adams for King? That doesn’t sound half bad for a country that suffered through a long string of lousy 19th Century presidents.
There’s no art to the contemporary smear campaign. It’s a pile-on trying to inflict the proverbial death of a thousand cuts. The internet is where smears happen in the 21st Century and kicking down is the GOP’s preferred method.
American political smears used to involve the powerful and prominent. Now it can happen to anyone who displeases the lord and master of the GOP. Ask Alexander Vindman or Cassidy Hutchinson. Neither is a liberal so attacks on them don’t qualify as owning the libs, it’s kicking down pure and simple. Since the Kaiser of Chaos was involved make that impure and simple.
The worst recent example of GOP smear tactics involves Dr. Caitlin Bernard who was smeared by Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita. He told a string of whoppers about her because she violated anti-abortion orthodoxy by helping a 10-year-old rape victim terminate her pregnancy. Dr. Bernard was accused of breaking the law and even fabricating the story. Neither was true, Rokita lied. Rokita’s smear campaign has led to a misconduct complaint being filed against him with the Indiana bar association.
One reason Rokita resorted to the big smear against an eminent physician can be seen in the featured image. He wanted to strut his dubious stuff on Fox News. What ambitious GOP pol doesn’t want to be on Fox? It’s where smears go to be blown up by the gas bags of Fox News.
Adam Serwer wrote a landmark piece in 2018 called The Cruelty Is the Point. It was about the sadistic pleasure Trumpers take in the misery of others, make that THE OTHER. The phrase caught on and became part of the dialogue.
Smears strike me as a mindless form of cruelty. In the hands of the likes of Trump and Limbaugh they’re used to inflict pain on enemies imagined and real. That’s the point. The smear is the point.
The last word goes to Rory Gallagher: