You can blank out the name Hilary Clinton and pencil in the name Joe Biden, but the playbook is the same. Chapter after chapter in the playbook lays out the brutal blueprint of how to torpedo the candidacy of the Democratic presidential opponent. The authors of the playbook are Trump, top GOP party officials, the RNC, packs of rabid conservative bloggers and talk show yakkers, Fox News, and a big swatch of the mainstream media. Their playbook was in full and near textbook force with Hillary. First, endlessly loop every scintilla of dirt, gossip, innuendo, and hearsay about their past political and personal dealings.
It matters little whether prior investigations into that past turned up absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing; throw it out there anyway. Next, pick an area of perceived political vulnerability and then jump al over it. With Hillary that was everything from Whitewater to her standby role in hubby Bill's Lewinsky affair. Then when the potential Democratic presidential nominee becomes the actual nominee, trump up (pun intended) a fresh new scandal.
With Hilary it was not one but two. The first was her alleged gross derelict mishandling of the Benghazi attack. Then double down on that with her alleged misuse of her emails as Secretary of State. In both cases, make it appear that the conduct was not just a personal lapse, but bordered on, if not outright, criminal offense.
Then double down again by holding congressional hearing after hearing that looks, sounds, and feels more like an inquisition chamber than a real hearing. Then subject the victim, Hilary, to endless hours of non-stop finger-pointing questioning in front of the glare of the investigating congressional committee lights and national TV.
Finally, go viciously personal, and plant the seed that somehow the candidate has some physical or even mental issue that casts grave doubt on whether they are really up for the job of the presidency. The talk about Hillary on that score was that she appeared to be sickly, at times physically challenged. This instantly sparked another round of media and public chatter as it was intended of whether Hillary could indeed hold up under the strain and demand of the job.
The GOP's great fear of Hillary was driven by the standard mix of business as usual, cut-throat partisan politics between the GOP and the Democrats, the long standing loathing of the Clintons, and the high stakes drama of a presidential election campaign. But most importantly, it was driven by the candidate herself. She was one of the best prepared White House candidates in years. She posed a real threat to win the presidency. The GOP with a huge boost from the media that fell in line to help spread the lies and gossip about her did its job well.
It's the exact same with Biden. Even before he tossed his hat in the presidential rink, the tag team of the GOP and media snoopers started in on him. They dredged up his failed presidential runs of past years. They resurrected the old charge that he plagiarized from another's speech. They paraded several women before the public who told tales of a to touchy feely Joe with them. Then there was the supposed bumbling incoherent, sputtering Joe. The heavy inference was that Biden suffered from some form of at worst early dementia or at best simply had problems keeping a clear mental focus and that his stumbling over words and sentences.
The really dirty stuff though began when Joe, like Hilary, became a real possibility to be the actual 2020 Democratic presidential nominee. Crooked Hillary suddenly morphed into Crooked Joe. This touched off the endless round of accusations, charges, and finger-pointing at Joe and son, Hunter, for alleged feathering their financial nests in shady business dealings in the Ukraine. There was no wrongdoing. The real criminal wrongdoing of Trump in trying to paint it as such, though, got him impeached. That really didn't much matter because it threw just enough shade on Joe and kept the chatter and maybe even doubt among some about his character going.
Now the jewel in the crown in the political effort to destroy candidate Joe is sex. Drag out an accusation of sexual misconduct that's decades old, with scant evidence, and then loop it continually hour after hour as if it's is not an unproven unsubstantiated and highly dubious allegation, but a fact. Then double down on that by shaming and badgering some top Democrats and women's groups into calling for an "independent" investigation into the charge.
The result: diversion, distraction, and a Biden campaign thrown for a loop just at the point where polls consistently show him handily beating Trump in November. That's of course the problem. The election is still months away and one can be sure the GOP and some media gossipers will surely pluck more pages from this well-honed playbook on how to destroy a Democratic presidential candidate. It worked with Hillary. The hope is that it will with Joe.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is the author of Biden Versus Trump: Who Will Win (Amazon) He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network