Hillary Clinton's "dirty politics": Bernie Sanders is experiencing the same nasty tricks that Clinton's campaign dealt Obama in 2008

Clinton's campaign is alienating Bernie Sanders supporters — it could cost her in the general election

Published March 25, 2016 8:19PM (EDT)

Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders   (Reuters/Jim Bourg/Mark Kauzlarich/Photo montage by Salon)
Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders (Reuters/Jim Bourg/Mark Kauzlarich/Photo montage by Salon)

With allegations of voter suppression in Arizona, as well as questions about the Clinton campaign’s tactics in Iowa, Nevada, and other states, some historical context is needed. In 2008, The Atlantic published an article explaining "dirty politics" and voting "irregularities" titled "Obama Manager Accuses Clintons of Widespread Dirty Politics":

"David Plouffe, in a succinct statement appended to a released quotation from his boss, Barack Obama, said the Obama campaign was investigating more than 200 reporters of irregularities in Nevada.

'We currently have reports of over 200 separate incidents of trouble at caucus sites, including doors being closed up to thirty minutes early, registration forms running out so people were turned away, and ID being requested and checked in a non-uniform fashion. This is in addition to the Clinton campaign’s efforts to confuse voters and call into question the at-large caucus sites which clearly had an affect on turnout at these locations. These kinds of Clinton campaign tactics were part of an entire week’s worth of false, divisive, attacks designed to mislead caucus-goers and discredit the caucus itself.'

Plouffe asks Nevadans to call a toll-free number... and report any other problems."

Sound familiar? Every single one of the voting irregularities Plouffe complained about in 2008 have been experienced by the Bernie Sanders campaign.

History is repeating itself in 2016.

While Plouffe complained of “200 separate incidents of trouble at caucus sites,” Bernie Sanders has also witnessed the same Clinton campaign strategy, without the support of anyone within the Democratic Party. At least Barack Obama had part of the Democratic establishment backing him, while Bernie Sanders is viewed as an outsider to many establishment Democrats.

Furthermore, The Washington Post also quotes David Plouffe complaining about Clinton “misleading caucus-goers” in a 2008 article titled "Obama, Edwards React to Nevada Outcome":

"Barack Obama said he is 'proud' of the campaign he ran in Nevada...

But his campaign manger, David Plouffe, said the campaign has reports of more than 200 incidents of 'trouble' at caucus sites that may have kept Obama’s supporters from offering their support at the caucus. He blamed the incidents on premeditated 'Clinton campaign tactics' that he said 'were part of an entire week’s worth of false, divisive, attacks designed to mislead caucus-goers and discredit the caucus itself.'"

Voters in 2016 should remember that Clinton’s campaign tactics were once described as “false, divisive, attacks designed to mislead caucus-goers and discredit the caucus itself.”

What was that again about Hillary Clinton’s admiration for Barack Obama?

In addition to voting irregularities and 200 incidents of “trouble,” the Clinton campaign exhibited other examples of “dirty politics.” As stated in a 2008 Guardian article titled "Clinton aides claim Obama photo wasn’t intended as a smear," "Barack Obama’s campaign team today accused Hillary Clinton’s beleaguered staff of mounting a desperate dirty tricks operation by circulating a picture of him in African dress, feeding into false claims on US websites that he is a Muslim." Looking back, there’s simply no way to deny Clinton used racism against Barack Obama.

Yes, racism was used against Barack Obama in 2008, and Clinton’s 3 a.m. ad (that Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson believed contained a "racist sub-message") and Bill Clinton’s claim that "I’m not a racist" weren’t the only elements of a Republican-style strategy against America’s first black president.

President Obama’s campaign manager David Plouffe explained that the controversial photo represented “the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we’ve seen from either party in this election.”

The words “from either party” speak volumes.

Plouffe also believed the picture was part of "a disturbing pattern" and stated “It’s exactly the kind of divisive politics that turns away Americans of all parties.”

As a testament to Democratic politics, most in the Democratic establishment have endorsed Hillary Clinton. These endorsement, in light of “dirty tricks” and “dirty politics” exhibited by Clinton’s campaign against Barack Obama, are also bizarre considering even “the kitchen sink” was thrown at Obama.

This “kitchen sink” is described in a 2008 New York Times piece titled "Clinton Campaign Starts 5-Point Attack on Obama":

"After struggling for months to dent Senator Barack Obama’s candidacy, the campaign of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is now unleashing what one Clinton aide called a 'kitchen sink' fusillade against Mr. Obama, pursuing five lines of attack since Saturday in hopes of stopping his political momentum...

'Enough,' Ms. Williams’s statement began. 'If Barack Obama’s campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed. Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely.'"

As stated in the article regarding the photo of Obama in African attire, Clinton’s spokesperson believed Obama’s campaign "should be ashamed" of their criticism. Essentially, the Clinton campaign justified a blatant attempt at deceiving voters, knowing very well that myths regarding Obama’s religion or birthplace would translate into votes for Hillary Clinton.

While Sanders has refrained from even mentioning the FBI’s investigation of Clinton’s emails (Clinton would never have returned the favor if the shoe were on the other foot), his opponent has had no problems painting Sanders as the liberal Ted Nugent on guns, or too extreme on healthcare and other issues.

Regarding the emails, I explain in this YouTube segment why Hillary Clinton likely faces FBI and Justice Department indictments and why Democrats must rally around Bernie Sanders.

As for the secrecy behind these emails, David Axelrod stated his viewpoint of Hillary Clinton in a 2008 CNN piece titled "Obama camp slams Clinton for secrecy":

"WASHINGTON (CNN) - Barack Obama’s campaign stepped up its effort Friday to target Hillary Clinton for delaying the release of her income tax returns, saying the New York senator has a 'pattern of secrecy' and has yet to be fully vetted by the American people.

'Senator Clinton is one of the most secretive politicians in America today,' Obama Campaign Manager David Plouffe said in a conference call with reporters. 'She has consistently refused to release her tax returns. They have said they are going to release them around [April] 15, but there is no reason why the prior six years of tax returns couldn’t be released right now.'

...Obama strategist David Axelrod said Clinton is the least-vetted candidate in the presidential field because of her refusal to disclose the documents...

'Considering the huge amounts of money they have made in recent years, they’ve contributed their money to the campaign, some of those relationships financially have been with individuals who have come under quite a bit of scrutiny for possible ethics transgressions, its essential to know where the American people are getting there money from,' Plouffe said Thursday."

The righteous indignation from Hillary supporters would be heard throughout the universe if the Sanders campaign stated “Senator Clinton is one of the most secretive politicians in America today.”

Furthermore, the same “dirty politics” exhibited eight years ago are evident in this year’s Democratic primary. The difference, however, is that many Democrats are just fine with voting irregularities and various forms of suppression, primarily because winning is all that matters to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Even the FBI investigating Clinton and her associates (the FBI isn’t granting immunity to servers) isn’t enough to fill her supporters with the slightest concern.

In contrast, ideals bolster Bernie’s campaign. Bernie Sanders is absolutely correct in saying that “what happened in Arizona is a disgrace,” especially since many voters waited in line for 5 hours and there were over 140 less polling stations than 2012.

What better way to defeat an opponent who benefits from high voter turnout than voter suppression?

If loyal Democrats believe Sanders supporters who refuse to vote for Clinton will eventually come around if Clinton wins (like Clinton supporters did in 2008), they should reevaluate their optimism. I state the case for writing-in Bernie Sanders, if Clinton wins, in this YouTube segment. Rest assured that more attempts at blatant voter suppression and “dirty politics” will result in far more than 33% of Bernie Sanders supporters refusing to vote for Clinton. I explain in this appearance on CNN International with John Vause that Clinton could get indicted, and in another appearance on CNN International that none of Trump’s schemes would pass Congress. If we see more attempts at voter suppression in the future, even the fear of Donald Trump won’t be enough to sway millions of voters, disenchanted with Clinton’s “dirty politics.”

(This article first appeared on The Huffington Post)

By H.A. Goodman

MORE FROM H.A. Goodman

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2016 Democratic Primary Bernie Sanders Dirty Politics Elections 2016 Hillary Clinton