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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, October 09, 2018

 
GOP's strategy to keep attacking Dr. Ford

By Spocko

Josh Marshall beaks down the politics behind Susan Collins' line describing Dr. Ford's experience of sexual assault.
Collins told Dana Bash: “I do not believe that Brett Kavanaugh was her assailant. I do believe that she was assaulted. I don’t know by whom. I’m not certain when.”
Senate GOPs Ludicrous Theory of the Case
Blasey Ford was sympathetic and highly credible in her testimony. She had taken and passed a lie detector test. She described an event populated by Kavanaugh’s 1982 friend set, something all but impossible to achieve if she did not at least know him fairly well at the time. Republicans knew that for Kavanaugh to be telling the truth, Blasey Ford had to be lying. Remember. She didn’t pick him out of a line up. It really can’t be a good faith misunderstanding. She knew him. She was sure it was him.
But calling her a liar was politically toxic. So they needed a theory that fit each political need. First, Kavanaugh had to be telling the truth and must in fact be innocent. Second, Blasey Ford must think she is telling the truth. (The straightforward answer is that she’s lying. But that’s bad politics.) Ideally, the theory must posit that she was in fact assaulted, just not by Kavanaugh. Otherwise, there’s no basis for the politically required notional empathy. A less plausible scenario is that she has a false memory and she was never attacked at all. But that’s also bad politics. It sounds like saying she’s crazy and not a victim at all.
Collins and her Republican colleagues settled on the one scenario which checks all the political boxes but at the cost of being ridiculously implausible. She was attacked. But even though she is certain that she was attacked by a person she knew already, Brett Kavanaugh, in fact she was mistaken about who attacked her and might well have been attacked at a totally different point in her life. The assault becomes a purely notional placeholder to hold together a bad faith argument. There is zero chance they all come to this argument independently. This is some unknown strategist’s over-clever ruse.
The real point here is that no one can really believe this. Only the most casual cynicism gets you to this argument. It is a poll-tested, built-in-a-lab argument that is driven purely by political needs and can’t possibly be the product of actual belief or reasoning based on the evidence at hand. It’s pure cynicism that too many people are taking seriously.
I understand Josh's analysis. When I read this kind of analysis my activist mind engages. "What can we do with this?"

One strategy is to bust the GOP's answers in real time using the media. But our current system of celebrity access journalism means reporters rarely ask follow-up questions. When they DO get a follow-up the politicians usually have one answer prepared and the reporter moves on.

When trapped, politicians are trained to stick to the script. To bust this requires smart questions from non-journalists working together in a format the politicians can't control.

This is an opportunity for citizens to have "hold the elevator doors open" town halls.  
We saw the impact Maria Gallagher and Ana Maria Archila had on Jeff Flake. These kinds of conversations are very powerful, which means the right will start doing them to the politicians on the left. 

Expect elevator situations where men who were falsely accused ask their Democratic senators, "Where was justice for me!?"  They will demand apologies for how Kavanaugh was treated during the hearing. They will demand new investigations of Bill Clinton.

Women will tell stories about their sons, husbands or fathers who were falsely accused and how their lives were destroyed by a lying woman who was believed without question.

This strategy of continuing the attack, even after it appears that they have won, is a based on their fear of losing their gains when there is a reckoning.

Who's the unknown strategist? 

Bill Shine, Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications, talks with White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and counselor Kellyanne Conway, in the East Room of the White House, on July 9, 2018. REUTERS/JIM BOURG

Josh brought up the issue of an "unknown strategist" who provided the basis for Collins' theory. I'm not sure who it was on the GOP senator side, but on the President's side it might be Bill Shine, formerly of Fox News. now the White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications

Described as, "a right-wing media enforcer with a decades-long track record of fierce loyalty to his boss" Shine knows the Trump audience and what kind of fig leaf would work for Collins and the GOP senators so he set about making one available. 

Let Brett Channel Donald! 
You may have noticed that in the earlier Fox News interview Kavanaugh repeated phrases and maintained an even tone. That's something that a standard media trainer or legal team would advise  him to do.  But when Trump and Shine saw the first Fox interview they knew it wouldn't play to their audience.

I suspect Shine coached Kavanaugh on the TONE of his testimony with assistance from Kellyanne Conway on how to lie about definitions in the high school yearbook.

The prep team gave Kavanaugh permission to mirror Trump's combative style. They assured him the Fox News base would love it.  Advisors like Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro helped support the flipped script of the "aggrieved victim" that the right loves. They also pushed the "Soros is paying for it all" conspiracy theory to discredit Dr. Ford's supporters.

watched Jeanine Pirro interview Trump about attacking Dr. Ford.  First she praised him for his earlier restraint and then asked why he "went off script." She then set Trump up with a perfect question.
"What was it that got you to pivot from your restraint about her and to fight for Kavanaugh?" - Jeanine Pirro




Then she praises his mocking of Dr. Ford as the turning point saying, "it was instinctive, it was guttural and you did it and you won!" (I think it's funny she said guttural when she meant from the gut. Her Freudian slip shows she knows he's in the gutter AND his utterance was "strange, unpleasant,and disagreeable" )

The White House is using Fox to reinforce the attack strategy and to set Trump up with leading questions.  (Now with Hope Hicks installed as executive vice president and chief communications officer at Fox, the feedback loop of information to the WH is even stronger.)
Hope Hicks, the Donald Whisperer, is the new EVP and Chief Communications Officer at Fox

Expect More Conspiracy Theories and "Evidence"


Ed Whelan's doppelganger theory was discredited, but not before it created a splash and got the idea of mistaken identity out there.

I expect that evidence supporting Dr. Ford and other assault survivors will come out.  Conspiracies about the evidence will also come out.  Expect the usual questions:

"Who brought it forth?
Who paid for it?  SOROS! SOROS! SOROS!
What is wrong with the people who brought it forward?"

When new evidence supporting Ford shows up, they will attack old evidence.

I know that hard evidence that will discredit Kavanaugh and his friends will become public eventually. My friend Lisa Graves brought up evidence of Kavanaugh's  lying under oath in this September 7th issue of Slate. She wrote she expects more evidence when the Democrats have subpoena power after the election in November.

When that happens, I am on the record as saying I WANT all evidence to be questioned and vetted no matter if it looks bad or good for Kavanaugh.  

Between now and subpoena time evidence might show up that looks like it will hurt Kavanaugh and the left will jump on it before it is vetted. Then it will be shown that part of it was faked. (This is a method used to taint real evidence.  Remember the kerning of the Texas Air National Guard memos?)

I want to believe that the people behind the strategy to support Kavanaugh and discredit his accusers are not as sophisticated as the people from the Dubya White House. But then again they have help from the Russians, their own media networks, new social media tools and techniques plus an audience that is primed to believe even the most ludicrous theories.

When you see Trump's people bragging about winning understand that they are bragging because they are insecure. They know the win was based on manipulations and lies.

They are like a Wile E. Coyote running as fast as he can on air before the gravity eventually kicks in and he falls. They can change the court but not the laws of gravity.  There will be a lot of gravity this fall.