The Artful Smear
Posted on February 5, 2016
“She is pink, right down to her underwear.”
That’s what Richard Nixon accused Helen Gaughan Thomas of in the battle for California’s Senate seat in 1950.
''Are you aware that Claude Pepper is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert? Not only that, but this man is reliably reported to practice nepotism with his sister-in-law and he has a sister who was once a thespian in wicked New York. Worst of all, it is an established fact that Mr. Pepper, before his marriage, habitually practiced celibacy.''
George Smathers, who beat Mr. Pepper in the same year but for a different seat, denied ever uttering those words in that order, but the legend persists. What we do no for certain is that Mr. Smathers did call his opponent “Red” Pepper for his communistic tendencies.
For much of the second half of the twentieth century, being a communist or socialist, or even being somehow connected to one, was a political vulnerability to be exploited by the opposition.
This was a bipartisan tactic. Nixon, as we all know, was a Republican. Smathers was a Democrat.
But an interesting thing has happened in this coming election, especially on the Democratic side.
Bernie Sanders is a socialist. He runs on it proudly. He doesn’t seem to care that everybody knows about his socialist past.
Indeed, he is using it to bolster his appeal with younger voters.
And the funny thing is he is being accused of unfairly attacking his chief rival.
Hillary Clinton accused him ruining her reputation, using an “artful smear” to hurt her with the voters.
And what was that “artful smear”?
Why, that she is a capitalist!
My, how the tables have turned!
Hillary is being accused of being a serial monologist, an inveterate profit-maker, and worse someone who hangs out with New York bankers and other rent-seekers.
George Smathers undoubtedly would approve.
Richard Nixon would be turning over in his grave.