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The political smear: why does the Right use it better than the Left?
Posted by Adam Ash on August 31, 2005 10:29 AM (See all posts by Adam Ash)
I’ve noticed a peculiar difference between rightwing and leftwing political attacks.
Whereas both the left and the right are equally adept at calling each other names (on the Blogcritics site, for example), the strategy of The Big Smear -- the broad wipe of a very personal and dirty accusation -- seems to be almost exclusively rightwing.
Rush Limbaugh and other rightwing commentators are consistent practitioners of The Big Smear. Notice the personal smears dumped all over the head of Cindy Sheehan, the anti-war mother of dead Iraqi soldier Casey Sheehan. Leftwing commentators appear to largely steer clear of The Big Smear, as much as they like to indulge in name-calling. They seem to get enough kicks from calling Bush a chimp, which is hardly a smear, unless you’re a chimp.
Whatever the differences between right and left, the master of The Big Smear, the all-time champion, is Bush’s political brain, Karl Rove.
Rove’s first known use of The Big Smear was when he masterminded George W. Bush’s victory over Ann Richards as governor of Texas. The Big Smear: Richards was a lesbian. And she had a lot of lesbians working for her.
No doubt Rove would’ve used The Big Smear in Bush Senior’s 1992 re-election campaign, but he was fired from that campaign over a leak to Robert Novak (yes, even then he caused trouble by leaking to Novak). Probably Bush Senior’s biggest mistake. He might’ve won if Rove had had an opportunity to use The Big Smear against Bill Clinton.
In the 2000 Republican primary between Bush and McCain, it’s widely believed that Rove masterminded a “push