Aspen Times Weekly: Just another anti-Clinton stealth campaign, eh? |

Aspen Times Weekly: Just another anti-Clinton stealth campaign, eh?

with John Colson

It was with considerable disgust that I read a New York Times article this past Sunday, detailing how Republican strategists have figured out that liberals are a little on the dim side when it comes to interpretation of Internet messaging in the political arena.

Specifically, according to the article, environmental bull-dog Bill McKibben was snared by a Twitter post about a fund-raising event attended by presumed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, but involving a lobbyist for the controversial Keystone XL gas pipeline, which McKibben strongly opposes.

You know, of course, about the pipeline, meant to carry Canadian crude oil, mined from the incredibly dirty “tar sands” deposits in Alberta, Canada, to American refineries and ports.

Most of the Keystone system already has been completed and is transporting crude from Hardisty, Alberta, eastward in Canada through Saskatchewan and Mainitoba, then southward through parts of the Dakotas, eastern Nebraska (Steele City) and on to refineries in Illinois and in the areas around Houston and Port Arthur, Texas.

But the XL section would create a straight line from Hardisty through Montana to Steele City, carving a leaky path through the Sand Hills section of Nebraska, a highly sensitive area with endangered wildlife that environmentalists fear would become a wasteland of spills and ripped up terrain thanks to the construction of roads to serve the pipeline.

President Obama vetoed a pro-XL bill rammed through Congress by the jubilant new Republican majority earlier this year, and the entire issue is now in limbo awaiting further study of such issues as whether Canadian pipeline construction is up to U.S. standards (it reportedly has not been in the past), which is directly related to concerns about spills and leaks.

Hillary has been pretty mum on the topic, though she reportedly said she leaned toward approval in an off-hand comment in 2010, back when she was secretary of state and was somewhat in charge of such issues.

Back to our original thread — McKibben, upon receipt of the Tweet about Clinton buddying up to a Keystone lobbyist, immediately sent the Tweet along to his 150,000 followers with an expression of extreme disappointment in Clinton for her choices. He apparently did not realize that the original Twitter post came from a conservative group called America Rising PAC as part of a determined campaign to undermine support for Clinton among environmentalists and progressives in general.

That’s right, the Republicans are using social media to chip away at Clinton’s most left-leaning base, by selectively using rumor and innuendo to tarnish her reputation — a reputation, I must add, that is not in terribly good shape to begin with, at least not with people like me and, perhaps, you.

Her tenuous hold on this left-leaning voting bloc was best illustrated by the immediate responses to McKibben’s blast-Twitter, according to the NYT, which included a rather huffy query that read, “Do you need another reason not to vote for Hillary Clinton?”

And that, dear readers, is how we could end up with (heaven forbid) Wisconsin’s evil governor Scott Walker sitting in the White House.

This new twist to the political game is akin to another lamentable fact, which is that Republicans have been far better than Democrats in terms of how they have “framed” their arguments in favor of such nasty goals as crippling government by starving it to death; letting the “free market” run things in the U.S. without meddling by people concerned about such unimportant things as social security for the old, infirm and impoverished; and turning over the nation’s public lands to corporate raiders intent only on making a quick buck and moving on to ravage some other hapless nation’s natural resources.

By making it seems like the Republican agenda is in line with the core philosophies of right-thinking Americans everywhere, the party of the wealthy has for decades been able to position itself as moderate even while it has become rabidly, unhealthily extremist in its views and its policy priorities.

Put simply, the Republican Party has become far more adept at fooling American voters into believing, say, that the color black actually is red, or that a poor person is a lazy person, or that an environmentalist is a communist, simply by telling the voters over and over again that they’ve always believed those things.

And now the Grand Ole Party has learned how to use social media to its advantage, by playing on the disgruntled nature of liberals and progressives, who all along have wondered if Hillary could be trusted to do the right thing if elected president.

And America Rising (how’s that for a tagline that everyone can get behind?) is not the only group using these shadowy methods aimed at manipulating the vague fears of the left.

Karl Rove’s group, American Crossroads, is doing it, too, according to the NYT, and more are likely to follow suit, putting together a stealth campaign that makes a mockery of the idea of open, clear-voiced debate on the issues, and instead depends on deceit and misdirection to achieve its goals.

Get the picture?