Politics of personal destruction
"The politics of personal destruction" is a liberal tactic of demonizing the opposition. The term was made popular by President Bill Clinton during his Impeachment trial in the 1990s, but is considered to have begun with the 1987 nomination by President Ronald Reagan of Judge Robert Bork to fill a vacancy on the United States Supreme Court.
Bork was one of the most respected jurists in the nation, earning the top rating of the American Bar Association, which judged him “exceptionally well-qualified.” He had been a professor of law at Yale and Solicitor General. But he was a conservative, and the leftist Democrats who controlled the Senate didn’t like that. Bork’s nomination was killed using smear tactics that included digging up lists of his past video rentals. Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy used scare tactics, saying, “Robert Bork’s America is a land in which [...] blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, and children could not be taught about evolution.” The hearings were so notoriously vicious that “bork” became a verb, meaning to destroy someone personally so as to render them inert politically. When the Senate unanimously confirmed Bork for the federal appellate bench in 1982, Senator Joseph Biden, (Democrat-DE) admitted that Bork was so well qualified that, were he nominated for the Supreme Court, he would undoubtedly be approved.
Senator Joe Lieberman's (I-Conn.) support of the global war on terrorism has made him the victim of the politics of personal destruction. Despite the fact that Lieberman had a long and loyal history of voting with his party 90% of the time, he was no longer palatable to the Democratic Party liberals because of that one issue, even though in 2000 as the Democratic nominee for Vice-President, running with Al Gore, he was popular and acclaimed. When Lieberman ran as an Independent candidate, Democratic colleagues responded by denouncing his candidacy and rejecting his place in their party, launching harsh personal attacks.
The politics of personal destruction was used again by the Left against conservative Judge Roy Moore during his campaign for U.S. Senate in Alabama. One month before the general election, The Washington Post, a liberal newspaper which had already endorsed Moore's Democrat challenger, reported allegations of sexual misconduct dating back 40 years prior. In addition, left-wing lawyer and Democrat Party activist Gloria Allred brought another allegation. Despite the suspicious timing and serious flaws in the allegations, the media, Democrats, and establishment Republicans abandoned Moore and presumed him guilty simply upon hearing allegations.
- Clarence Thomas was alleged to have engaged in sexual misconduct by Anita Hill during the confirmation hearings for his nomination to be a Supreme Court justice. During the hearings, Thomas stated that "it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you."
- Conservative presidential candidate Herman Cain was alleged to have had inappropriate sexual relationships, something which destroyed his presidential campaign.
- N.Y. Times,JUDICIARY PANEL FOCUSES ON BORK
- FrontPageMagazine.com: Jennifer Verner, "Ted Kennedy's Jihad"
- National Reveiw, "The Bork fight" October 9, 1987
- Boston Globe, NATIONAL PARTIES INTERVENE IN PRIMARY RACES
- Washington Post: David Broder, Prudence at the Polls
- Tulsa World: Cal Thomas, Lieberman defeated by 'Taliban' Democrats