Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign against Donald Trump largely amounted to a reprise of the left's attacks on Judges Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas in the 1980s. "Borking" -- nice slang for Hillary’s "politics of personal destruction" (which she decried when it was employed against her husband in 1998) -- succeeded against Judge Bork. It did not work against Justice Clarence Thomas. And it demonstrably didn't work against president-elect Trump.
So what is the left going to try next, now that Borking Mr. Trump has failed?
"Massive resistance." that's what.
I laughed when Slate's Michelle Goldberg used the term on NPR last week. Because the last time Democrats talked about "massive resistance," it was Southern Democrats in the 1950s and 60s. They were proclaiming undying resistance to an end to Jim Crow and forced desegregation.
You know -- Little Rock. Selma. Montgomery. Governor George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door
Well, that's not we're dealing with here. What I'm predicting is a return to the huge marches on Washington against the Vietnam War. To the 24-hour picketing of the White House. To teach-ins. Student strikes. Full-page ads and petitions. Leaks of classified information. An unceasing drumbeat of media and academic criticism. The Movement, as it came to be called, deployed a monthly "national mobilization," with a big march in DC and coordinated smaller demos around the country.
These tactics were deployed in the '60s and '70s, first against President Lyndon Johnson and then against Richard Nixon.
Get ready, because it's coming again. Whether, this time, the U.S. will confront -- as it did in the '70's -- violent actions by leftist radicals, such as bombings, bank robberies and other actions to fund domestic terrorism is anyone's guess. But we do know it did before. And we know that today #occupywallstreet and #blacklivesmatter are out there.
We also know, from the mass demonstrations two years ago against state labor legislation in Wisconsin and Ohio, that today's American left is perfectly willing to deploy those tactics to take over and occupy state capitols. Just ask Scott Walker and John Kasich. And in North Carolina, the Dems successfully held “Moral Monday” rallies at the state capitol for four years, resulting in the narrow defeat of the sitting Republican governor.
A friend involved in the inauguration next week reported that downtown DC is plastered with posters
calling for counter-demonstrations in DC on Inauguration Day. He Facebooked me pictures.
One poster was from a new group. “Join us for a bold mobilization against the inauguration of Donald Trump,” it proclaims. An examination of the website suggests an affiliation with the “occupy” movement.
The other subway poster, quite striking, reminded me of CPUSA posters from my college years in DC in the early '70's. All the colors and the design were there. Even the dark yellow paper.
All of these calls for “direct action” center on January 20th. But there's more. On January 21, a "million-woman march" is called for.
Meanwhile, new Democratic Facebook groups targeting Mr. Trump and the Trump agenda pop up on my Facebook feed every day, asking me to "Like" them. Last week, a full-page ad by a new group, called refusefascism appeared on page 7 of the New York Times.
All in all, its reminds me of the anti-Nixon "Inhoguration" on the Mall on January 20th, 1973, which I covered as a college journalist.
Of course, branding its opponents as "fascists" has been a standard tactic of the global left since the 1980s. In Europe, Mr. Putin & Co. still use it today against free Western governments and institutions which he would like to subvert.
So, on one level, there's nothing new here.
And yet, all of this is sobering – if you remember your history.
That's because there is a trap here. An American president named Richard Nixon fell into it.
While the anti-war left of the 1970s failed to prevent Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger from successfully bringing "peace with honor" in Vietnam, they did succeed in provoking Watergate. That scandal -- which covered a multitude of White House sins, all directed at the anti-war left -- undid all that the Nixon administration had accomplished in Southeast Asia. It drove an American president from office. It also led to the disasters of the Carter administration.
Nixon's resignation happened within 21 months of the greatest presidential landslide in American history. As with Hillary Clinton in 2016, George McGovern lost the presidential election of 1972. But the Nixon administration's overreaction from 1969-1972 to the left's unending assault on the presidency, our national security, and our institutions ultimately succeeded in handing the American left its goal. America and the world paid for it for years.
Therefore, in closing, I want to recall two voices from the past. First, the late Washington Post columnist David Broder. Second, the words of Richard M. Nixon as he left office in August, 1974.
Broder was the dean of DC political reporters. When Nixon took office in January 1969, the leaders of the Antiwar Movement announced that, having broken one president, they proposed to break the new one too.
Broder, a Democrat, dissented. In what became a highly controversial column.entitled "The Breaking of a President: A Risky New American Sport." Broder wrote: "It is becoming more and more obvious with every passing day that the men and the movement who broke Lyndon B. Johnson's authority in 1968 are out to break Richard Nixon in 1969." He continued: "When you have broken the President you have broken the one man who can make peace."
That was in 1969. The same, of course, applies to president-elect Trump today.
The antiwar left rejected David Broder's advice. And, with Watergate, they and the Democrats in Congress succeeded in breaking another president, driving him from office. The consequences we know.
What we also need to remember, however, is Richard Nixon's warning on the day he was forced out. Speaking to friends, supporters, and the White House staff, the president said: "Always remember others may hate you but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself."
Does anyone reading this doubt that the American left is organized and determined to bring about a redo of 1974?
I suggest, therefore, that we all remember Nixon's words as we prepare for the Trump Administration. Our opponents on the left are not, most of them, America's enemies. So we should use laughter rather than vitriol to defeat them.
But defeat them we must.
The one thing the Devil cannot stand is laughter.