Democrats’ Tactic of Accusing Critics of Kremlin Allegiance Has Long, Ugly History in U.S.
By Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept
A FREQUENT WEAPON FOR DEMOCRATS in the 2016 election is to publicly malign those they regard as critics and adversaries as Russia sympathizers, Putin stooges, or outright agents of the Kremlin. To put it mildly, this is not a new tactic in U.S. political discourse, and it’s worth placing it in historical context. That’s particularly true given how many people have now been targeted with this attack.
Strongly insinuating that the GOP nominee, Donald Trump, has nefarious, possibly treasonous allegiances to Moscow has migrated from Clinton-loyal pundits into the principal theme of the Clinton campaign itself. “The depth of Trump’s relationship with the Kremlin is revealing itself by the day,” her website announced yesterday, and vital “questions” must be answered “about Trump’s cozy relationship with Russia.” The Clinton campaign this weekend released a 1-minute video that, over and over, insinuates Trump’s disloyalty in the form of “questions” – complete with menacing pictures of Red Square. Democrats cheered wildly, and really have not stopped cheering, ever since the ex-Acting CIA Director (who, undisclosed by the NYT, now works for a Clinton operative) went to The New York Times to claim “that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”
But this smear tactic extends far beyond Trump. It is now used to vilify anyone perceived to be an impediment to Clinton’s victory. When WikiLeaks published thousands of DNC emails shortly before the Democratic Convention, which ultimately forced the resignation of four top officials, it was instantly asserted that it was The Russians who gave them those emails (even though The Washington Post cited an intelligence official as saying that “the intelligence community . . . has not reached a conclusion about who passed the emails to WikiLeaks” and “We have not drawn any evidentiary connection to any Russian intelligence service and WikiLeaks — none”). Democrats not only treated this evidence-free conspiracy theory as Truth, but – following the Clinton campaign – proceeded to smear WikiLeaks as a Kremlin operation:
Tomorrow on #AMJoy we’ll explore the unprecedented affinity between an American presidential candidate – Trump – Russia and Wilileaks.
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) July 24, 2016
After converting Trump and WikiLeaks into arms of the Kremlin, Democrats turned their smear campaign to media outlets and journalists who simply reported on the contents of the leaked DNC emails: beginning with The Intercept, the first to report on it. That The Intercept and its journalists and editors proved themselves to be witting or unwitting Kremlin weapons and guilty of being Russia apologists and sympathizers was pronounced by MSNBC’s most enthusiastic neo-McCarthyite host, a Clinton-revering Boston Globe columnist, the Communications Director of California Democratic Congressman John Garamendi (including the outright lie below), and one of the growing legion of Hillary’s neocon supporters.
When Bernie Sanders looked earlier this year to be the one who was standing in Clinton’s way, slimy suggestions began emerging of his dark connections to Russia. In January, Clinton’s Senate ally Claire McCaskill went to The New York Times to warn of ads “with a hammer and sickle” if Democrats nominate Sanders (smearing opponents by pretending to be concerned about how they’ll be attacked by the GOP is a Clinton speciality: it’s how her 2008 campaign justified inflaming the Obama-is-a-Muslim falsehood by being the first to circulate the now-infamous picture of Obama in Muslim garb while in Indonesia).
McCaskill WIELDS A KNIFE: GOP is nice to Bernie because “they can’t wait to run an ad with a hammer and sickle”https://t.co/0TAOcmTnyX
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) January 20, 2016
Meanwhile, Clinton operative David Brock said “Sanders is a socialist” and “has got a 30 year history of affiliation with a lot of whackadoodle ideas and parties,” and pro-Clinton pundits linked Sanders to Communists through his 1980s praise of Castro and the Sandinistas. All of that culminated in Republicans like Lindsey Graham and National Review citing Sanders’ honeymoon in the Soviet Union as proof of his suspicious loyalties:
— The Weekly Standard (@weeklystandard) October 29, 2015
Bloomberg‘s Leonid Bershidsky noted that “Sanders’s long-ago ‘honeymoon’ in the Soviet Union is held up by his opponents as evidence of dubious judgment, and even Communist sympathies or anti-American tendencies.” During a CNN debate, Anderson Cooper began a question to him this way: “You honeymooned in the Soviet Union.”