Politics of personal destruction

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President Ronald Reagan meets with Judge Robert Bork in 1987

"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. In reality, though, examples of the politics of personal destruction in action by the Left stretch at least as far back as the 1930s.[1]

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.[2][3][4]


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.[5][6][7]

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.

Other examples

  • 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.
  • Conservative federal circuit court nominee Ryan Bounds was forced to withdraw his nomination – partially due to RINOs Marco Rubio and Tim Scott – on the day he was supposed to be confirmed simply because of some articles he had written in college that were considered racially insensitive, regardless of the substance of his arguments as well as his actual judicial experience.[8] The mainstream media refused to hold the senators to account for blocking the confirmation of a qualified nominee for a trivial reason.[9]
  • The unsubstantiated allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, which were released days before his scheduled confirmation vote despite Democrats knowing of the allegation for weeks prior (see Kavanaugh smear).

See also


  1. Kirkwood, R. Cort (January 11, 2019). 80 Years of Smears. The New American. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  3. FrontPageMagazine.com: Jennifer Verner, "Ted Kennedy's Jihad"
  4. National Review, "The Bork fight" October 9, 1987
  6. Washington Post: David Broder, Prudence at the Polls
  7. Tulsa World: Cal Thomas, Lieberman defeated by 'Taliban' Democrats
  8. Multiple references:
  9. Pollak, Joel B. (July 22, 2018). Jake Tapper, Margaret Brennan Fail to Ask Marco Rubio About Ryan Bounds. Breitbart News. Retrieved July 22, 2018.