An article in the New York Times this weekend exposed a “sleazy” strategy being employed by conservative PACs on social media. Groups like America Rising have been sending out videos and tweets attacking Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Nothing unusual about that, until you realize that they are aiming these videos at liberals, not conservatives. Instead of focusing all of their efforts on the Republican base, these PACs are trying to erode Clinton’s support among Democrats by going straight to those most likely to vote for her in the primaries.
For months now, America Rising has sent out a steady stream of posts on social media attacking Mrs. Clinton, some of them specifically designed to be spotted, and shared, by liberals.
According to the story, these groups have learned the lessons of the 2012 election. After being hammered from the right in the primaries, Mitt Romney limped into battle with President Obama a scarred and weary man. America Rising, created by Romney campaign chairman Matt Rhoades, hopes to put Clinton through the same ringer. Since Democrats seem unwilling to challenge her on the way to the general election, these groups are going to put on a liberal mask and make the case themselves. In the process, they are reaching out to voters who might never otherwise hear a word of liberal criticism about their champion.
“The idea is to make her life difficult in the primary and challenge her from the left,” Colin Reed of America Rising told the Times. “We don’t want her to enter the general election not having been pushed from the left, so if we have opportunities — creative ways, especially online — to push her from the left, we’ll do it just to show those folks who she needs to turn out that she’s not in line with them.”
In uncovering the strategy, the Times author builds a story that suggests – if subtly – that there is something underhanded about such a campaign. But if these groups make a solid case against Clinton using facts, it’s hard to understand why it would present an ethical challenge. Facts are facts. By making it seem as though these PACs are doing something sneaky, the Times is treating a presidential election like a sporting event. If Hillary Clinton goes to the White House next year, she will be the president of the entire United States, not just president of the Democrats. Therefore, it is perfectly acceptable that those who don’t want to see that happen speak to all voters about why.
Is it, in the end, a ploy to make it easier for a Republican to win next November’s election? Of course. But if the Democrats, the media, and even liberal writers have decided to let Hillary pass without inspection, these PACs are doing the country a big favor by spreading their message. Voters – liberal, conservative, and in-between – deserve to be informed about their candidates. If the left isn’t going to bother, then it isn’t fair to criticize the right for filling the void. Hillary Clinton is not what she presents herself to be. Pointing that out may be a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.