What have the American people done to deserve the political campaigns that have become a permanent feature of American life, starring politicians who perpetually escalate every unsavory tactic that brings politics into widespread disrepute?
Today, consider the Republican campaign for the presidency in 2016, which has degenerated into an obsessive war against Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats worry negative images are defining White House Heller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll MORE that borders on becoming a vindictive and venomous holy war, that is more reminiscent of political discourse in the Middle East than the contest of serious ideas that should be the hallmark of democratic nations. Tomorrow, we will consider the Democratic side of what is shaping up as a vapid and empty 2016 campaign.
For two years Clinton has been the target of the most personally hostile, lavishly financed and longest-lasting negative campaign of personal destruction and character assassination in the history of presidential politics.
One might have thought the GOP had reached rock bottom when Republicans were unable to agree at least that the current Democratic president of the United States loves our country and believes his faith. But no, in their rage and partisanship directed against Barack Obama, some Republicans question the president’s love of America and Christian faith, while many other Republicans respond with agreement, acquiescence or silence to these false and defamatory attacks.
Listening to the long list of GOP candidates for president doing their dog and pony shows, when these candidates should be offering their vision and plans for America, they appear to be going through a psychic transference of their political venom and vindictiveness from President Obama to Clinton.
These candidates proclaim their contempt for ObamaCare, but what do they offer to replace it? Nothing. They offer derision for diplomacy that attempts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons through negotiations, but what do they suggest instead? Little except overheated rhetoric that makes the GOP look like a war party in search of a new war — a war that could be prevented by an agreement they oppose even before it is concluded.
Creating jobs? Increasing wages? Reforming immigration? Because Republicans can agree on nothing beyond platitudes, slogans and bromides, they regale their adherents with recycled rhetoric about their dislike of Hillary Clinton, their contempt for Hillary Clinton, their accusations against Hillary Clinton. They lead a party that looks like little more than an angry partisan mob that despises a woman they present as a disfigured fabrication that bears no resemblance to the real person they are determined to destroy.
When the latest GOP champion in this two-year political offensive, Peter Schweizer, who appears to be running a conservative-financed oppo-research operation in the guise of a book, appeared on the “Today” show, he even admitted to Savannah Guthrie that his book proves no wrongdoing by the Clintons! He calls for more investigations of the wrongdoing his book fails to prove and then bears false witness by telling Guthrie his motive is not to defeat Hillary Clinton!
Christopher Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax who is widely respected by principled conservatives, has worked extensively with the Clinton Foundation and recently wrote a must-read piece praising its integrity and good works. After watching yet another Fox News critique of the Clintons, he condemned the “numerous unsubstantiated, unconnected and baseless allegations” against them.
Ever since Clinton left her post as secretary of State, the GOP has been running a nonstop campaign of vilification against her that is the only unifying principle of Republicans. It takes a form of a two-year holy war, financed by huge conservative money, subsidized by taxpayer funding for partisan congressional hearings, that paints a demonic portrait of a woman who does not exist and publishes a book that turns a half truth into a big lie, propagated by presidential candidates who substitute their derision against the demon for the vision of America they lack.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Contributors Blog and reached at email@example.com.