The Left's Next Big Thing
Fresh off getting their britches kicked over the Kavanaugh nomination, the American left has come up with yet another scheme to stymie the GOP and strangle the MAGA program in its cradle.
This is the product of John Burton, an Obama acolyte and political activist who, harnessing the crowdsourcing process (the "Wiki effect"), has signed up an army of amateur volunteers to examine the records of dozens of vulnerable GOP candidates with the intention of publicizing these findings in a string of October surprises.
Burton is an ex-banker who worked for the Obama campaign as an opposition researcher. After Donald Trump was elected, he joined the "Resistance," according to his own words, out of guilt that he'd allowed Trump to be elected.
He immediately organized a telephone campaign in which, shortly after the inauguration, 78,000 callers contacted the Senate Judiciary Committee demanding an investigation into "Russian collusion." Some sources give him credit for the Mueller investigation, which is arguable, to say the least.
Burton then applied himself to organizing "Citizen Strong," a 501(c)(4) "grassroots" outfit dedicated to ending the Trump menace. Anticipating the 2018 elections, he has organized 16,000 volunteers who have been searching the net for "damaging material" on GOP candidates. Citizen Strong is targeting three Senate races, 22 House races, and 133 state legislative races in 13 states. The effort has been financed by what even his supporters call "dark money." (It should also be mentioned that one of the individuals involved is an evident Russian immigrant named "Tanya." Another is named "Vlad." You'd really think they'd know better.)
The purpose is to unleash all this material prior to November 6, throwing GOP electoral efforts into chaos and delivering the seats in contention to the Dems.
We will pause here for the usual suspects to respond, as they did to the Mueller investigation and the Kavanaugh hearings, by racing back and forth and screeching, "It's over... it's hopeless... nothing can be done... They've won... we're finished, I tell you..."
Moving on, we will now calmly examine the reasons why it's by no means "all over":
- Forewarned is forearmed. The legacy media, specifically Bloomberg Businessweek, have prematurely spilled the beans on Burton and his effort, apparently under the assumption that it's a done deal. But in politics, nothing is a done deal. There is plenty that can be done to curtail this, as long as people know it's coming – which they now do.
- Twenty eighteen is not the year for leftist dirty tricks. Consider the left's recent ambush attempts. The Mueller investigation continues squishing its way around the streets of Washington like a giant amoeba, occasionally crushing a bystander but leaving its major target – President Trump – untouched while becoming a greater embarrassment with each week that passes. The Democratic effort to fire a delusory woman at Judge Brett Kavanaugh collapsed into utter catastrophe, with the Dems in far worse shape than they were before they tried it. Almost simultaneously, the New York Times (a notorious metropolitan gay paper) published an "exposé" of President Trump's taxes, which revealed a lot of "tax evasion" that turned out to be totally legal loopholes, several of which are utilized by the NYT's own accountants.
It may well be that the time for this type of maneuver is over. Every tactic has its season, and the day of massive, well financed mud showers may well be past its use-by date, due to large-scale abuse. It's easily possible that people will greet Burton's effort with "another Blasey Ford-type scam."
(It shouldn't be forgotten, either, that this is the year of #Walkaway, in which lifetime Democrats are cutting ties to the party over exactly this type of thing.)
- There's no reason to believe that Burton is actually competent at this. The Mueller investigation claim is pure résumé puffery. So many people were squalling for an investigation at the time that taking credit for it is like claiming credit for photosynthesis – a bad sign, as any human resources specialist will tell you. We also know nothing about his previous experience with the Obama campaign. If he's out of the same pod as Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch, Hillary, Samantha Power, or Susan Rice...well, that speaks for itself, doesn't it?
- The "Wiki principle" has its drawbacks. When designed and run by capable hands, such as the Cambridge Citizen Scientist program, it can work well. By utilizing trained, experienced scientists to filter the findings, Cambridge has produced a lot of excellent scientific material that would have been unobtainable by other means. But otherwise...
Well, look at Wikipedia itself. Decades after its founding, it's still a byword for error, incompetence, and disinformation. My favorite example involves the Klan entry, where for years a photo of a farnicoco – a hooded Spanish Holy Week penitent – was labeled as a "typical Klansman." But just the other day, while looking for a map of N.Y. Congressional District 14, I stumbled over the Wiki version, which I immediately recognized as bogus – the map placed the bulk of the district in Manhattan, not in the Bronx, where it belongs.
There is no sign that Burton has solved this problem or is even aware that it exists. Now, it's statistically certain that a substantial number of his volunteer army of 16,000 are stupid, incompetent, disturbed, or vindictive and may well produce material that is mistaken to the point of being legally actionable. In this era of the GOP Unbound, this could well mean that Burton and the staff of Citizen Strong will exit stage right pursued by a blizzard of writs, subpoenas, and judgments. It's doubtful that his dark money sources will care for this.
A few examples of Citizen Strong's exposés have already been released (though nothing on the chief target, Dana Rohrabacher, accused of – you guessed it – Russian collusion). They are less than world-shattering. We've been informed that the wife of Wisconsin state rep. Tyler Vorpagel, who has voted for welfare reform, was collecting unemployment while working on his campaign!!! It may come as news to J.P. Morgan alumnus Burton – as well as his Russian comrades-in-arms – that unemployment compensation is not welfare. It's a form of insurance, paid for by workers while employed. We can be sure that Wisconsin's middle- and working-class voters will know the difference.
Similarly, Representatives Mike Bost of Illinois and Dave Schweikert of Arizona will be pilloried for staying at Ritz-Carltons or the Waldorf while traveling – a silly piece of class warfare that might agitate Occupy activists but few others. Political offices do come with some privileges. This should be news to nobody.
The rest is of much the same tenor – all of it reaching, exaggerated, and essentially empty. Citizen Strong may have come up with something earth-shattering, but thus far, there's no sign of it. Simply repeating "Blasey Ford" and underlining that this is the same type of operation – which it is – should negate the bulk of it. Mentioning such names as "McCabe," "Strzok," and "Page" would not be out of place.
The inevitable errors and misstatements can also be utilized, particularly if malice or deliberation can be suggested. The Vorpagel unemployment error mentioned above certainly fits this mold and needs to be hard-pedaled not only by the Vorpagel campaign, but by all other targets as well. If Citizen Strong can screw up a simple piece of information such as that one, then what's the rest of its material worth?
We can rest assured that there will be plenty more coming.
Nor can we overlook the "dark money" factor. What are Burton and his organization hiding? Who's paying the bills? What's their agenda? Citizen Strong is clearly applying the total transparency principle to political activity. Well, playmates – what's good for the goose. Let's see what you've got hidden in your closets – then we'll see about listening to what you're peddling.
There's one last thing we can be sure that John Burton hasn't thought of, because Democrats and leftists never do. The Democrats are the Wile E. Coyotes of the political world. They are constantly introducing new tactics, new weapons, and new tricks, always acting under the impression that circumstances consistently bend their way and that nothing can go wrong, nor can these new tricks be used against them. Back in the early '70s, they lowered the voting age to 18, assured that all those late teens would vote for them. They went instead for Richard Nixon. More recently, the half-clever Harry Reid cut the Senate votes needed for confirmation of federal judges to a simple majority, which pushed through a large cohort of Obama appointments – but also laid the basis for the GOP doing the same thing with the Supreme Court appointment of Neil Gorsuch. In between, there's a never-ending list of surefire Acme gimmicks that left the Dems with sooty faces and smoke rising from their whiskers.
Burton's scheme is likely another one of those. Anybody – even conservatives and Republicans – can recruit an army of internet volunteers, and probably get better results. After all, it's the Democrats who are hiding the real dirt. DiFi's husband Richard Blum's problem is not unemployment insurance, and the Clintons have not simply been sleeping in the Waldorf on the taxpayer's dime.
John Burton has opened a door. Let's see what comes through.