Clintons Target The Gullible And Less Educated In Their Smear Campaign

In looking at the Clinton smears one thing is clear. The Clintons sure do not think that the American voters are very intelligent. You either have to be pretty stupid, or willing to buy anything the Clintons say regardless of how absurd, to fall for their smear campaign. You have to be pretty stupid to hear all the Clinton surrogates bring race into the campaign and believe their denials that this was intentional. You have to be pretty stupid to listen to Obama’s interview and interpret the comments on Ronald Reagan the way the Clintons claim. You have to be pretty stupid, or uninformed as to Obama’s positions, to believe their attacks on issues such as Iraq, Social Security, and abortion rights. You really have to be stupid to believe it when the Clintons complain about being the victims of the attack after Obama began to defend himself.

Jonathan Alter essentially makes this argument in an column entitled The Clintons’ Patronizing Strategy:The latest attacks on Obama insult voters’ intelligence

Obama’s best hope is that Democratic voters aren’t as dumb as Hillary and Bill Clinton think they are. The outcome of the primaries depends on whether, amid their busy lives, voters can get a general fix on who is more often telling the truth about the barrage of charges and countercharges.

This is ironic, because the way Bill Clinton survived impeachment was by betting on the intelligence of the American public. Now he’s betting against it.

In South Carolina, Hillary is airing a radio ad that goes back to a theme she pushed in the debate there Monday night: that Obama liked Republican ideas. As Obama pointed out in his response ad, this is “demonstrably false,” as referees from ABC News to the Washington Post to factcheck.org have established. (The Obama response ad ends with a new tag line that Hillary will “say anything and change nothing.”)

The Republican story goes back to an interview Obama did with a Nevada newspaper in which he praised the way Ronald Reagan communicated with the public and changed “the trajectory of American politics.” He added that, unfortunately, the Republicans had some fresher ideas than the Democrats in recent decades.

These are completely ordinary comments. In fact, as Obama pointed out in the Myrtle Beach debate, Hillary is considerably more effusive about Reagan in Tom Brokaw’s new book, “Boom.” Bill has also made many statements over the years that were much more complimentary toward Reagan. Nobody paying attention thinks either Obama or the Clintons likes Reagan’s right-wing politics.

But instead of moving on to another line of attack with more grounding in what Bill Clinton called “indisputable facts,” the Clinton campaign decided to bet that this Reagan horse could be flogged for more votes among less educated voters in South Carolina who might be inclined to believe Hillary’s preposterous version.

Less educated? Yes, downscale voters are their target group. Obama is stronger among well-educated Democrats, according to polls. So the Clintons figure that maybe their base among less educated white Democrats might be receptive to an argument that assumes they’re dumb. Less well-educated equals gullible in the face of bogus attack ads. That’s the logic, and the Clintons are testing it in South Carolina before trying it in Super Tuesday states. They are also road-testing major distortions of Obama’s positions on abortion, Social Security and the minimum wage.

I’m all for aggressive, even negative, campaigning, but I’m not so sure this patronizing approach will work for Hillary down the stretch. Let’s take the battle in New Jersey, a delegate-rich state that votes on Feb. 5. Hillary will almost certainly win there, in her backyard, but the question is by how much. New Jersey delegates are awarded proportionally, which means that if Obama can come within five or ten points, he’s ahead of the game in the national delegate hunt.

As the Reagan ad aired in South Carolina, Hillary was campaigning in New Jersey. That gave the Obama campaign an excuse to assemble a rapid response team to create a little backlash in the Garden State.

Cory Booker, the inspiring mayor of Newark, is especially popular with white liberals in the suburbs. Here’s what he said about the Clinton ads, beyond calling them “outrageous” and “dishonest”:

“We’re trying to offer an alternative to the Republicans’ fear and smear campaigns, and now we’re being dragged down to their level by the Clintons.”

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2 Comments

  1. 1
    Luv says:

    Their tactics are IDENTICAL to Republicans. Appeal to the cynical and/or stupid people.

    Unfortunately for them, the average progressive is usually more intelligent and informed than a right-winger (which is what makes us progressive and them right-wingers).

    This strategy was doomed to failure from the beginning.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    Luv,

    Unfortunately they might win. Generally the more intellectual insurgent candidates generally lose the Democratic nomination. Their strategy was not doomed from the beginning, but hopefully it can be stopped. We don’t need two Republicans running in the general election.

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