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Gary Hart and Ross Perot Political Assassinations - Is Bernie Sanders Next?
Conspiracy or Self Destruction?
Whether a Presidential candidate appeals to a left wing or right wing base, the trend in modern American political history appears to be that if that candidate's views significantly diverge from the mainstream platform or do not follow the approved money supply lines of their parties, events will occur that leading to the candidate's political destruction. At times these politically assassinated candidates seem to initiate the derailment of their own campaigns through personal misconduct, in other instances there appears to be a concerted behind the scenes effort to eliminate them as a threat. Whatever the case, the convenient outcome is that the entrenched old guard of both parties remains in place, and Americans are left to swallow the bitter pill of choosing between a "lesser of two evils" once again.
In the 2016 American presidential campaign cycle there are two "maverick" candidates on the slate, Donald Trump on the Republican side and Bernie Sanders for the Democrats, both of whom appear to have a legitimate chance of making a difference in the race. Although Trump has wielded a great deal of racial hyperbole to appeal to xenophobic voters, his stance on free trade agreements, which he has labeled "unpatriotic," indicates his desire to keep American jobs at home, a viewpoint that makes the Republican old guard tremble. On the Democratic slate, Bernie Sanders may approach the subject of free trade agreements from a different socio-economic outlook, but his similar stance on the subject has made members of the Democratic Party old guard, represented most prominently by Hilary Clinton, quake in their boots as well.
This then, is the story of two major Presidential candidates of recent history, by which I mean the last three decades, who came out of the gate with a burst and then ignominiously retreated from the contest after attacks upon their character and methods forced them to withdraw. Did these Presidential contenders simply self destruct, or did corporate-controlled media machinations play a part as well? Furthermore, can current outspoken mavericks such as Bernie Sanders expect the same treatment, or are they already getting it?
Gary Hart - A Promising Campaign Instantly Implodes
Gary Hart is the politician of whom conservative Republican Barry Goldwater was once quoted as saying - "You can disagree with him politically, but I have never met a man who is more honest and more moral." Are such high compliments from the opposite ideological extreme beneficial to a Presidential candidate, or are they the kiss of death? Interestingly enough, Republican candidate Marco Rubio made similar remarks about Bernie Sanders recently. At any rate, Hart's "moral" character was laughingly exposed and his promising candidacy ceased to exist a few days thereafter. Was this character assassination carefully planned and orchestrated, or did Gary Hart's own political hubris bring him down? Whatever the case, this charismatic leader, often described as "Kennedyesque," was snuffed out as a presidential hopeful.
During the 1988 Presidential campaign Gary Hart was the clear front runner. As he surged ahead of candidates on both sides of the political spectrum, rumors of his marital infidelity began to be circulated in the press. In response, the Senator from Colorado challenged reporters to follow him around, warning them that they would be "very bored."
As it turns out, reporters from the Miami Herald had a very exciting time sniffing along Hart's trail. Shortly after Hart threw down his challenge, gumshoes from the South Florida newspaper discovered him entering his Washington, D.C. townhouse with Donna Rice, a beautiful young model. Five days after the initial Miami Herald report the Washington Post also threatened to run an article on Hart's past infidelities. The Colorado Senator dropped out of the race, even though Donna Rice denied any sexual relationship. In the speech he made upon suspending his candidacy, Gary Hart paraphrased third President Thomas Jefferson in saying "I tremble for my country when I think we may, in fact, get the kind of leaders we deserve."
As it turns out, on the road to becoming a very promising Presidential candidate, Gary Hart may have also made some powerful enemies. As a recently elected US Senator from Colorado, he was part of the Senate's Church Committee, tasked with investigating accusations of nefarious activities made against the CIA, including assassination plots of foreign leaders and spying on US citizens. Hart was specifically involved in the investigation that studied the role of intelligence agencies in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In regard to his activity in this investigation, he is quoted as saying "I don't think you can see the things I have seen and sit on it." Hart concluded that Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was a double agent, and this was why the FBI and CIA withheld information from the earlier Warren Commission investigation. Hart also discovered that the CIA had utilized Mafia ringleaders in an attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro, and found curious leads that suggested the Mafia may have also played a role in the Kennedy assassinations. During his first presidential bid in 1980, Hart said he would reopen the Kennedy investigation if elected. In response to this statement he received death threats.
Until I started researching this article, I always assumed that Gary Hart was just a victim of his own inability to keep his sexual urges under control. I am not generally a promulgator of conspiracy theories, but my simple, bonehead Internet searches uncovered curious associations between the Miami Herald, the paper that brought Hart down, and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the organization threatened by Hart's proposed reopened investigation.
Seven months before the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, in which CIA trained Cuban exiles would attempt to overthrow the Cuban government, the Miami Herald newspaper was preparing to publish a news story that would expose the plan. Allen Dulles, then director of the CIA, convinced the newspaper to stop the story, claiming the exposure of the plot would be a threat to national security.
The Miami Herald has a long, ongoing history of working with the CIA. Ex Miami Herald Editor Anders Gyllenhaal served on the Executive Committee of the Inter American Press Association, a group that supposedly fights for freedom of the press in Latin America, but also is reported to have a close liaison with the CIA and its affiliates. Roberto Suarez, the President of El Nuevo Herald, an offshoot of the Miami Herald, serves on the board of directors of this group as well. In the past, CIA agents have allegedly disguised themselves as Miami Herald columnists when working in Latin American countries. Is it just coincidence, therefore, that the Miami Herald should be the newspaper to bring down Presidential hopeful Gary Hart? Did he completely self-destruct, or did he get a push off the campaign cliff by those he threatened to expose by reopening the Kennedy investigation?
Prior to Gary Hart, politicians were mostly given a pass by the press for what they did off the clock in their personal lives. I am not condoning Hart's infidelity, it just seems somewhat irregular that he was made the crash test dummy for this new brand of unrestricted warfare on personal morality.
H Ross Perot Exits the 1992 Race with a "Giant Sucking Sound"
Henry Ross Perot launched his independent Presidential bid in 1992 as a populist proponent of balancing the federal budget and ending the outsourcing of American jobs. Unlike Bill Clinton, the President who was eventually elected in that race, Perot opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), saying "We have got to stop sending jobs overseas. It's pretty simple: If you're paying $12, $13, $14 an hour for factory workers and you can move your factory South of the border, pay a dollar an hour for labor,...have no health care—that's the most expensive single element in making a car— have no environmental controls, no pollution controls and no retirement, and you don't care about anything but making money, there will be a giant sucking sound going south."
Although Ross Perot was a successful businessman and billionaire, his message resonated with working people, but not with corporate backed politicians of both major parties; those whose financiers would greatly benefit from the cheap south of the border labor promised by NAFTA. By June of 1992, when Perot led a Gallup poll with a frightening 39 percent rating, a truly Machiavellian behind the scenes character assassination of both the candidate and his family members began in earnest. By July he had dropped out of the race.
At the time, Perot justified his departure by claiming he did not want the House of Representatives to decide the election in the event of a deadlock, but he confessed more insidious reasons later, upon reentering the campaign. Perot contended that Republican operatives had threatened to reveal compromising, digitally altered photographs of his daughter, who was soon to be married. He also claimed the CIA was threatening to hack into his computerized stock trading account to prevent him from retrieving money needed to finance his campaign. Furthermore, says Perot, the Bush campaign had plans to eavesdrop on his office in Dallas, Texas.
Ross Perot reentered the Presidential race on October 1st, but his earlier withdrawal had irretrievably damaged his hopes. All the same, on election day he came away with an unprecedented 18.9% of the vote, the most by a third party candidate since Theodore Roosevelt in 1912, making one wonder what may have been if he had resisted the assaults and remained on the ballot.
Bernie Sanders - Already Reduced to Irrelevance in 2016?
The 2016 Presidential election cycle offers up a greater than usual collection of mavericks who, like Hart and Perot, threaten to upset the established political apple cart, causing their message to be suppressed by the King and Queen makers in the US media. Of course, the right always claims that the media is controlled by the left, while over there the left cries out that the media is manipulated by the big business, corporate right. The truth is that the media is a tool used by both major political parties, who skillfully manage it to create a sham image of democracy designed to fool the American people that their vote counts. Meanwhile, corporate campaign financiers continue to mold candidates who will serve their interests and maintain the status quo.
Bernie Sanders, perhaps the most troubling of these modern Presidential mavericks, came out of the gate like American Pharoah at Churchill Downs over the summer, gaining widespread grassroots support, giving Hilary Clinton a good scare in Iowa and New Hampshire, and winning the campaign contribution sweepstakes without taking a dollar of Superpac money.
But like Smarty Jones on the home stretch at Belmont Park, Bernie is now starting to fizzle, to drop back into the herd. He was a curious novelty at first that was good for ratings, and as such was allowed a few token interviews on Ellen DeGeneres and the like, but when the political machine backing Hilary observed that he was a legitimate threat with a legitimate plan, they got busy and began reducing Bernie to irrelevance. The media strategy, basically, is not to allow us to feel the Bern or even see the Bern at all, and in so doing convince the voters that he is a non entity, not to be taken seriously. Whether we want to believe it or not, television exposure has a way of legitimizing candidates. When these candidates disappear from the public eye, we conclude in our television conditioned minds that they are not to be taken seriously.
But there's always social media, right? Social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter are the domain of the people, the last bastion of democracy, and no matter how much the evil broadcast giants manipulate our political views, we can always count on social media to express our true voice, to create our own American Arab Spring style revolt against politics as usual.
Then we learn about Astroturfing, an underhanded technique employed to manipulate social media, a practice Wikipedia defines as: "...masking the sponsors of a message or organization (e.g., political, advertising, religious or public relations) to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by grassroots participant(s). It is a practice intended to give the statements or organizations more credibility by withholding information about the source's financial connection."
In astroturfing, in other words, political organizations hire Internet trolls to post disruptive, argumentative, often insulting comments in online threads, the goal of which is to discourage support for a particular candidate and dissuade people from voicing support for a particular point of view, out of fear for being shouted down by angry trolls in an open forum.
Although the Republican party and its affiliate groups have been loudly accused of astroturfing, the Democratic political machine, no stranger to sleazy, unethical politics itself, is making widespread use of these methods to bury Bernie Sanders. An article in the UK daily mail reports that only 44% of Hillary Clinton's 3.6 million Twitter followers are real people. The majority of her social media followers come from either fake or inactive accounts. This same source reported that a large number of Hilary's Facebook "Likes" were purchased, not earned. Seven percent of these likes were generated in Baghdad, Iraq, suggesting that Hilary buys Facebook followers on a global basis to create the false impression that she is an inexorable tide that is burying the opposition, when in fact she has to pay poor students in the Arab world to create an illusion of widespread support that she simply does not have. There are also accusations that she has paid astroturfing trolls in the English speaking world to denounce Bernie supporters in online forums. A favorite technique of the trolling Hilaryites these days is to suggest that a vote for Bernie is a misogynistic vote against the idea of female Presdential candidates in general.
Meanwhile, over in the broadcast media side, Hilary's allies are quick to announce Bernie Sander's irretrievable demise, giving the impression that he has already shot his load, is a lost cause, and voting for him is a futile endeavor. To quote a CNN article of November 5th, "Bernie Sanders had a summer to remember, but as his campaign downshifts from the buzz of giant rallies to focus on the nuts and bolts of the campaign, it is struggling with that adjustment." In other words, Bernie Sanders was fun while he lasted, but now it is time to get serious, put our childish infatuation with the Vermont Senator aside, and focus on the tried and true mainstream candidates.
A Dark Tale About how the Media Validates our Existence
Interestingly enough, just as the Bernie Sanders campaign appeared to be gaining significant momentum, on October 22, 2015, Hilary Clinton was called before the United States House Select Committee on Benghazi to answer to her role as Secretary of State in the September 11th, 2012 attack by Islamic militants on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
For eight hours Clinton was grilled with mostly kid gloves questions about the role of the State Department in the attack. If the Benghazi committee was a Republican-led effort to discredit Hilary Clinton as a Presidential candidate, it certainly did not achieve its aim. Hilary's composure under fire was well noted on social media by her Facebook fans, paid and unpaid, and committee Chairman Trey Gowdy's widely circulated perspiring face was commented upon extensively, as if Hilary had somehow turned tables upon the enemies besieging her and sent them into headlong retreat.
The timing of the charade was curious, as it came at a time when Hilary's Presidential fortunes were fading fast and the Republican party was having a difficult time finding a "legitimate" candidate to put upon the fall ballot. Hilary and the Republican party would seem to make strange bedfellows, but members of the Clinton political dynasty in general have historically enjoyed "unusual" romantic partners. Therefore, an undeclared alliance between corporate backed Republicans and corporate backed Hilary, as a hedge against Bernie Sander's rising fortunes, does not seem outside the realm of speculation.
Unholy alliance or not, The Hill reported that the hearings were "positive momentum" for the Hilary campaign, CNN said that Hilary emerged "largely unscathed," and the Washington Post declared "GOP lands no solid punches." It was great publicity for Hilary at a time when she was having a difficult time gathering any kudos that she didn't have to pay for.
The Quality of Leaders that We Deserve
Whereas Republicans seem to be busy creating the impression of attacking Hilary Clinton, the GOP seems to be going out of its way to treat Bernie Sanders with kid gloves and play nice with him. Republicans know that showing love for Bernie will reduce his credibility with the Democrat party faithful and cause Hilary's star to rise even higher, in the event that a GOP candidate does not have the right stuff to win the 2016 election and it becomes necessary to plant Hilary's famous, unsoiled pant suits in the same Oval Office chair where Bill and Monica once dallied. As a "lesser of two evils," of course.
On Bernie's socialism, GOP candidate Marco Rubio was quoted recently as saying that while he doesn't agree with him, he rejects Bernie being herded in with the same communists that drove his family from Cuba, and "What I appreciate about Bernie is he's not trying to shirk from it...It's what he believes in. He's honest about it."
Could such touchy-feely sweetness from the conservative right spell the kiss of death for Bernie Sander's Presidential run? One thing that seems clear is that the bulldozing of Bernie is now a bipartisan effort that combines more sweet and sour flavors than an Asian buffet.
The overall result of these media engineered techniques, designed to sweep Bernie and similar dangerously outspoken candidates like Donald Trump out the door with yesterday's garbage, is that the American voting public will be left with the same tired slate of "lesser of two evils" choices once again. That giant sucking sound you hear in 2016 has to do with the quality of candidates we are left with after those who might actually represent the interests of the American people are forced out of the race through devious means. Because we the voters willingly allow ourselves to be suckered into this media trap, if Thomas Jefferson were alive today he would probably say that we are still getting the quality of leaders that we deserve.