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“When this is all over, nobody will admit to ever having supported it.” David Frum, former speechwriter for Bush 43.

Here We Go Again — The GOP Is Ginning Up Phony Scandals

Over the last 27 years, the GOP has tried to generate phony scandals about prominent Democrats to win elections and discredit Democratic Presidents. The Republicans do this because they know that if the public becomes more aware of its record in office and extreme agenda, they are unlikely to win Presidential elections. As it has turned out, the Democrats have won the popular vote in 6 out of the last 7 elections since the GOP has adopted this strategy.

Between 1968 and 1988, the general GOP election theme was that the Democratic Presidential nominee was too liberal and outside of the mainstream. Since the advent of the right wing media in the early 1990s, the GOP has been pushed pretty far to the right and it’s stands on economic, social and health care issues are simply toxic outside of the hardcore red states. As a result, the GOP has to do everything it can to distract the voters from this difficult reality (for them) and attempt to convince the voters that the Democratic Presidential nominee and President — once elected — is some kind of a crook.

We saw the inception of this new GOP strategy in 1992 and during the Clinton Presidency. The GOP and the mainstream media relentlessly pushed a narrative for over eight years that Bill and Hillary Clinton were unethical and potentially guilty of criminal behavior. Even so-called bastions of the “liberal media” like the New York Times and the Washington Post fell hook, line and sinker for these bogus allegations.

During the Clinton Presidency, no less than three Republican special prosecutors spent $80 million of the taxpayer’s money investigating allegations regarding the travel office firings, Whitewater, the tragic suicide of Vince Foster, the Rose law firm files, the FBI files and Monica Lewinsky. During these investigations we were treated to breathless allegations and speculation that the Clintons were going to be indicted. However, we all learned when Ken Starr issued his salacious report in 1998 that virtually all of these allegations were groundless and Bill and Hillary Clinton were never charged with anything.

The GOP perpetuated this strategy of making false allegations of corruption during the Obama Presidency. They didn’t want the voters to remember how they destroyed the economy during the Bush Presidency. The movement conservatives wanted the voters to forget that the economy was losing 800,000 jobs per month in December 2008 and that 8 million Americans lost their insurance coverage during the Bush Presidency. They also don’t want you to remember that the economy created over 200,000 jobs per month during Obama’s second term and that 20 formerly uninsured Americans were covered.

Instead, the GOP would have preferred that the voters focus on the phony scandals that they ginned up around the so-called IRS “targeting” controversy and the tragic deaths of four American diplomats at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in 2012. These allegations are reminiscent of what occurred during the Clinton Administration since they were equally groundless.

A 2015 report by the GOP led Senate Finance committee concluded after a two year investigation that there was no wrongdoing in connection with the so-called IRS “targeting” controversy. The report by this committee did not suggest or otherwise prove that any laws were broken by the I.R.S. Moreover, as Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) said: “(T)he inquiry had found pure bureaucratic mismanagement without any evidence of political interference. Groups on both sides of the political spectrum were treated equally in their efforts to secure tax-exempt status.”

Another unanimous finding by a GOP controlled Committee concluded that the GOP’s allegations about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in 2012 were largely phony. Shortly after election day 2014, the House Intelligence Committee quietly released a little noticed report that contradicted just about all of the GOP conspiracy theories about Benghazi. This investigation concluded that there was no “stand down” order and no intimidation of witnesses by superiors. Perhaps the most significant finding was that then National Security Adviser Susan Rice’s “talking points” about the cause of the attack were not part of an Obama Administration cover up. Instead, the Committee reported that: “(T)he process that produced Rice’s s talking points was flawed, resulting in errors rather than deliberate lies. “

One of the many reasons for the GOP and right wing media’s obsession with Benghazi was that it was also part of an effort to discredit Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy. One of the things that isn’t mentioned by the GOP or the mainstream media was that the House Republicans voted to cut funding for embassy security after they regained control of the House in the 2010 elections. Well before the attack in Benghazi, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized the Republican cuts to the State Department budget, warning they “will be detrimental to America’s national security.”

The efforts to destroy Clinton’s candidacy by the GOP was highlighted by the bogus controversy about Clinton’s decision to use a private email server while she was Secretary of State. Clinton’s use of a private email server as Secretary of State was legal and permissible under the State Department regulations during President Obama’s first term. (Moreover, Colin Powell used a private email account when he served as Secretary of State during George W. Bush’s first term.)

As it turned out, Clinton was never charged with anything over the use of the private email server. (As a matter of fact, there were zero indictments of any Obama Administration officials.) Unfortunately, the GOP managed to convince the so-called “liberal” mainstream media to turn the email server into the most important issue in the 2016 election and the late release of the Comey letter probably cost Clinton the election.

What makes the Clinton email controversy so maddening is that many of Clinton’s 2016 presidential rivals used private email accounts to conduct official business. Moreover, since Trump has taken office, he has continued to use an unsecured I-phone against the advice of his national security advisers. It has also turned out that Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have used private email accounts to conduct official White House business. Never forget that all GOP outrage is 100% fake.

The GOP and the right wing media are already falling back on their old strategy of pushing out phony scandals in the 2020 election cycle. In the last few months, Trump and Giuliani have been pressuring Ukraine to investigate Democratic front runner Joe Biden and his family. Trump even threatened to withhold $250 million in military aide to Ukraine unless Kiev launched this investigation. There’s nothing American about seeking help from a foreign government to win an election.

As former George W. Bush speech writer David Frum tweeted: “Can we please drop this nonsense about Trump asking Ukraine to “investigate” Biden? As Anders Aslund, a real Ukraine expert, notes: there is no honest accusation against Biden. What Trump wanted was a fabrication, not an investigation.” Aslund also tweeted: “For the record: VP Joe Biden did a stellar work on Ukraine. He had the support of the whole Ukraine community, pressing President Poroshenko to do more for the rule of law & he achieved substantial results. Biden deserves only praise for his work in Ukraine!”

The Republicans will continue to pursue this phony scandal narrative during the 2020 election cycle and even after that — when a Democrat is elected President. The GOP doesn’t want an election comparing the visions and platforms of the respective parties. Trump and just about every D.C. Republican candidate has supported a $2 trillion deficit funded tax cut for the wealthy, taking away insurance from 20 million Americans, ending or otherwise gutting pre-existing condition protections, and cuts to Social Security and Medicare. The last thing the GOP wants is for the 2020 election to be about real issues.

As Democrats, we can’t be fooled or alarmed by these GOP allegations. We’ve been seeing this game plan since 1992 and it has always turned out to be false and not grounded in reality. We need to keep the focus on the issues and the GOP’s record in office. If we can do that, we will win the 2020 elections. Now let’s get it done!

I’m a trial lawyer, a Democratic activist and a sports fan.

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