Monday, July 04, 2016

Perils for the Clinton campaign of looking too hard for things to be insulted about

When I first saw headlines like this, my first thought was, oh, that's easy to believe: Donald Trump's "Star of David" Hillary Clinton Meme Was Created by White Supremacists by Anthony Smith News.Mic 07/03/2016. It fits in with what we know about Trump. And it's positive for the Clinton campaign against Trump.

But even-the-hardline-Clinton-supporter Steve M at No More Mister Nice Blog 07/03/2016 took some time to do some original research. And he concludes that while the image in question originated at a hardline rightwinger Twitter account, there's no obvious reason to conclude that either the account itself or the particular image was intended to be anti-Semitic as such. (No, That Trump "Star of David" Tweet Didn't Originate at A White Supremacist Message Board 07/03/2016)

In an update, Steve M points to this article by Gideon Resnick, Trump’s Star of David Hillary Meme Was Made by Racist Twitter User Daily Beast 07/03/2016, which shows another anti-Hillary theme from the same Twitter account that uses a swastika composed of images of Hillary Clinton's face. Ugly, sleazy stuff, no doubt. But Steve M raises this plausible point:

Why would a Hillary-hater call Hillary a Nazi if he thinks Nazis are good?

Remember, the non-anti-Semitic wing of the right hates all Democrats for not being sufficiently pro-Jewish or pro-Israel (flip side: they think Democrats are too pro-Muslim).
To me, this is a reminder of the hazards of relying too much on offensive moments from Donald Trump. After all, he provides no shortage of perfectly legitimate reasons to be outraged at his behavior and actions.

In this case, it's also striking that Clinton supporters in this case are reaching to accuse Trump of being anti-Semitic - against the Methodist Christian Hillary Clinton!

It was notable in the primary campaign that while the Clinton campaign and her supporters were quick to accuse Sanders supporters of being sexist "BernieBros," the campaign of Jewish candidate Bernie Sanders refrained from using accusations of anti-Semitism against Clinton and her campaign. And that's mostly a good thing.

Still, traditional notions of hardball politics might have suggested employing it in at least one point in the campaign: the May 17 anathema against Sanders and his supporters issued by DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz over some false and other still-unproved allegations of violence by Sanders supporters in connection with the Nevada state party convention the previous weekend. After all, one of the most common anti-Semitic tropes is that Jews are not behind the great fortunes of the world but are also behind scheming, violent revolutionaries. The Clinton campaign's clumsy attempt to portray Sanders as the leader of a violent rabble could have easily been spun by the Sanders campaign as an anti-Semitic attack on him.

Who knows if that would have gotten any traction? It could even have backfired. The Clinton campaign would presumably have responded with more charges of sexism and may have doubled down on the violence allegations.

Campaign talking points obviously don't have to be true to be effective. But even against a nasty piece of work like Donald Trump, grasping for insults to be outraged over has its risks.

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