Teaching to the smell test

Smell Test

By digby

Here's the best example I've seen of how the noise machine is framing this Sestak non-scandal:

This morning on Fox News Sunday, Liz Cheney offered her thoughts on why the White House tapped former president Bill Clinton to try and persuade Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) to drop out of the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary. After saying Clinton doesn't have "an impeccable record of integrity," Cheney argued: "You know, there's a lot here that just smells funny. If the White House in fact thought that what they were doing was above board, why did they go to Bill Clinton? Why did they need a cut out for whatever they were doing?"

It's all there, even down to the "it just smells funny" routine. Earlier this week on the Mclaughlin Report, the increasingly agitated Monica Crowley accused the administration of a cover-up and they were all shrieking for an "independent counsel." (That's right, they're talking about bringing it back. I take that as a strong indication that they know they can't win the presidency in 2012, so they simply hope to wreak destruction upon this one.)

Media Matters has the full explanation of the non-scandal here, if you haven't ben following it. But none of that really matters. This has taken on a life of its own. Whether they can make anything of this specific charge is unknown. But what it signals is a return to the Clinton Rules and the scandal politics of the past. Regardless of whether or not any particular scandal takes hold, the way this works is by the cut of a thousand deaths.

For instance, perhaps people have forgotten that Bob Barr introduced impeachment proceedings based upon a non-scandal that had nothing to do with the non-scandals of Whitewater, Travelgate, Filegate, Buddhist templegate, or Monica Lewinsky:

It was Barr who first introduced a resolution directing the House Judiciary Committee to inquire into impeachment proceedings — months before the Monica Lewinsky scandal came to light. Foremost among the concerns Barr cited at the time was apparent obstruction of Justice Department investigations into Clinton campaign fundraising from foreign sources, chiefly the People's Republic of China

I'd almost forgotten about that one myself. But it shows that this isn't about anything specific --- it's just a political assault from all angles designed to weaken the enemy over time until they can go in for the kill.

The idea is to create an atmosphere of corruption and illegality (and not incidentally keep the press overstimulated and frenzied at all times) by constantly insinuating that there is something illegal or unethical about completely normal political behaviors --- and then accuse the target of "covering up" when they attempt to contain the political damage. They do it by an almost comical overreaction to an accumulation of charges that don't "pass the smell test" thus creating a "where there's smoke there's fire" impression over time.

If the tea party holds dominance over the Christian right in the GOP, this assault will have to be based upon their Muslim/socialist critique which isn't as potent as "traditional values" when it comes to scandal mongering. But frankly, I haven't expected the social conservatives to keep their heads down much longer anyway. This could be their path back to relevance.

I can't help but wonder whether or not the likes of Liz Cheney would so arrogantly shoot her mouth off if the Democrats hadn't decided that there was no need to look in the rearview mirror at the mayhem created by her father's bloodthirsty, corrupt regime. It might make these people think twice if they were held to the same standard they hold others. And until that happens, I'm afraid we are going to continue to see this dynamic play itself out in our politics.

BTW: You can see the ambition rolling off of Cheney in waves. She's going to run at some point, I have no doubt. And she makes Palin look like a frisky little kitten by comparison. She is the most dangerous woman in America.