The Politics of Personal Destruction

"The politics of personal destruction" is a phrase that dates back nearly to this nation's origins, but became part of the modern lexicon after then-President Bill Clinton used the phrase during his '92 campaign and again during Republican investigations into his personal behavior.

It's a phrase that certainly had pointed meaning to him, and perhaps even greater meaning to Hillary Clinton, whose entire public career, particularly the last presidential campaign, has been largely defined by the politics of personal destruction.

The Republican Party is adept, to put it mildly, in the politics of personal destruction. When you haven't had a new policy idea in decades, it's the only way to win.

And, so, looking forward to 2020, and the possibility that Senator Elizabeth Warren might be a contender to oppose Donald Trump (or whichever loathsome specimen in the line of succession has assumed the presidency), the Republicans are already plotting her personal destruction, euphemistically described in McClatchy's headline as an "anti-Clinton strategy."
Republicans are getting a jump on Elizabeth Warren's 2020 presidential campaign.

The Massachusetts Democrat is preparing to run for re-election to the Senate in 2018 and hasn't said yet whether she'll challenge [Donald] Trump for the White House. But in-state and national Republican officials have decided to target the liberal icon anyway, saying they will try to inflict enough damage during the Senate race to harm any future presidential effort — and perhaps dissuade her from running altogether.

...The goal is more about weakening Warren than defeating her: Republicans doubt that any of their party's likely candidates could topple her next year. But even with the next presidential election more than three years away, they say exposing her weaknesses now — or making sure her race is closer than expected — could do lasting damage.

"We learned from our experience with Secretary (Hillary) Clinton that when you start earlier, the narratives have more time to sink in and resonate with the electorate," said Colin Reed, executive director at the Republican outside group America Rising.
That's an interesting way of saying that it takes time to create "truth" with the cynical repetition of lies.

There isn't even any attempt made by Republican strategists to pretend that they will challenge Warren on policy grounds. To the contrary, they are explicit about their desire (and need) to critically damage her reputation—hopefully so severely that she will be dissuaded from seeking higher office at all.

Ryan Williams, a former aide to Mitt Romney, explains: "There's an interest in taking her down a peg before she puts together even an exploratory effort for 2020." He adds that the resistance to Trump "increases the chance that a radical liberal like Elizabeth Warren could win the nomination in 2020. It's best to start putting points on the board now."

Take her down a peg. Put points on the board.

It's all a game, and the way Republicans win the game is personal destruction.

[Related Reading: Gee, This Seems Familiar.]

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