Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Is Clinton Trolling the GOP with Trump Charges?

Yeah, GOP, I'm talking to you...

The word troll, which originally meant fishing with a hook pulled through the water, has morphed in the Internet age to mean provoking an angry response with a comment, often placed in comment sections of online media. A interesting -- some might say pathetic -- offshoot is "concern trolling," in which you pretend to be sympathetic to a position someone is taking in a post or comment but your subtext is "you stupid fucking idiot for believing that, loser."

Greg Sargent noticed that Hillary Clinton, in taking Donald Trump to task for aiding ISIS by adopting his stridently anti-Muslim positions, is actually trolling the GOP and by extension their entire cast of candidates. Interesting:
Donald Trump continues to rage against Hillary Clinton over her suggestion during the Democratic debate that Trump has become “ISIS’s best recruiter.” Clinton argued that terrorists are using videos of Trump insulting Islam to “recruit more radical jihadists,” and Trump has demanded an apology.
The Clinton camp has since walked back the video comment, though her advisers continue to point to social media evidence of the broader claim that Trump’s rhetoric has become a terror recruiting tool. The Clinton camp has refused Trump’s demand for an apology.
Make no mistake: Both Trump and Clinton must be very happy to be embroiled in this spat. Indeed, the Clinton camp has cheerfully fed the flames of this fight, in what appears to be a concerted effort to boost Trump among GOP voters. The theory may be that Trump benefits among those voters if he is perceived as a chief antagonist of Clinton, thus helping him spread more intra-GOP damage.
[...] It’s hard to know whether the Clinton camp really believes this [that Trump is a viable candidate]. But one obvious possibility is that the Clinton camp is signaling to top supporters that they should publicly make the case that Trump now looks like a genuinely viable candidate to win the GOP primary. If so, this takes the Clinton camp’s trolling of GOP voters to another level: Hillary is attacking Trump because Democrats are afraid that he’ll become the nominee!!!
Yes, I can see that Trump's full-throated objection to Clinton's nasty characterization serves to incite his supporters to circle the wagons, strengthening his lock of the party base. So he imagines a clear win. Hillary, on the other hand, drives the point home that Trump is dragging his whole party down with his rhetoric.
But there may be a deeper rationale here, too. As I reported the other day, Democrats plan to increasingly make the case that Trump’s simplistic bluster and belligerence are forcing the other GOP candidates to dumb down their rhetoric to match his, thus revealing Clinton to be more prepared to lead in complicated and dangerous times than any of the GOP candidates.
I'm not sure I buy this. Sargent may be projecting. It also may be a form of Etch-A-Sketch prevention, that is, by etching into stone the GOP candidates' fall-in-line-with-Trump rhetoric as he drives his party further and further toward racism, nativism, and, yes, fascism. YouTube and oppo-research may do this automatically. You can bet Hillary's staff -- and the DNC -- are combing the GOP candidates' appearances and statements to capture quotes the candidates will hope to walk back later in the general. I'm afraid Mitt Romney's campaign wrecked that "pivot to the middle" tactic for everyone.

(Which is why Clinton is already campaigning from the middle. If anything, she'll move left -- slightly -- in the general to sooth liberals.)

One thing Sargent's thesis does is that it gives us two, intertwining threads: one, that the Clinton campaign is up to the task of smashing the GOP in the general, and, two, that it doesn't matter who the candidate is anymore, they're all so tainted by Trump's drive to the far right.

As a Democratic supporter (I'd be a raving socialist if I were a European), this gives me hope. Or solace. Not sure which.

Bonus concept: Dana Milbank, also of WaPo, examines the wholesale Republican abuse of the term political correctness and its variants.
The notion of political correctness became popular on college campuses a quarter-century ago but has recently grown into the mother of all straw men. Once a pejorative term applied to liberals’ determination not to offend any ethnic or other identity group, it now is used lazily by some conservatives to label everything classified under “that with which I disagree.” GOP candidates are now using the “politically correct” label to shut down debate — exactly what conservatives complained politically correct liberals were doing in the first place.
As in the Sargent observation, I partially disagree with Milbank here. His first notion, that the GOP has morphed the term to mean anything they hate about the Left, is all well and good, but he then misses the point that what the GOP has really done with the term is use it correctly when uttering false, outrageous, or absolutely un-American messages that cross the border into, yes, racism, fascism, and nativism.

The GOP complains that it's politically incorrect to say that we should monitor all mosques and refuse entry to the U.S. to Muslims, but their problem is that it is politically incorrect to say such things, except, oh well, it's not anymore because the First Amendment is for Christians. Didn't you know that? You must be politically correct!

Welcome to the new America? No, welcome to the new GOP, same as the old GOP, only just nastier, more racist, more Christian, and, if possible, whiter.

I guess they have changed. Holy crap.

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