As part of its reelection effort during the 1972 presidential campaign, the Nixon White House was instructed to keep a White House Enemies list of political opponents – comprised of a top 20 list for special attention and another list of about 200 “Political Opponents” organized in categories. As then-White House Counsel John Dean described it, they would “use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies.”
Excerpt: Memorandum from Dean to Lawrence Higby, former assistant to Haldeman, dated Aug. 16, 1971 and entitled “Dealing with our political enemies.”
This memorandum addresses the matter of how we can maximize the fact of our incumbency in dealing with persons known to be active in their opposition to our Administration, Stated a bit more bluntly–how we can use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies.
The Obama campaign is now seeking to vilify specific private donors in a way that is alarmingly reminiscent of Richard Nixon’s “Enemies List” — as documented in a May 10th piece by the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel.
On April 20, 2012 “Keeping GOP Honest,” an Obama campaign website published a post titled “Behind the curtain: A brief history of Romney’s donors,” — publicly identifying eight private individuals who they labeled “high-dollar and special-interest donors” that “Mitt Romney is relying on…to fund his campaign.”
Four individuals were listed under the heading Donors who benefit from betting against America while four were categorized as Special interest donors. After each name, the campaign listed deeds that they find “less-than-reputable” or reflective of being “on the wrong side of the law” or making “profits at the expense of so many Americans.”
Each name was then tweeted out by the @TruthTeam2012 twitter handle with similar charges, and the list was also disseminated by email to a grassroots network of Truth Team volunteers — calling on their vast grassroots network of volunteers to spread the word and vilify the eight individuals.
Among those targeted was Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot – a Romney donor who has contributed $1 million to the Romney campaign – who was smeared as being a “litigious, combative and a bitter foe of the gay rights movement.”
VanderSloot has since been subjected to what Kimberly Strassel refers to as “slimy trolling into a citizen’s private life.”
Not since Richard Nixon have we had a President who has been as consistently and persistently personal in his attacks as President Obama has been on the 2012 campaign trail. And not since the “Enemies List” has there been such an explicit attempt to target and demonize a supporter of an opponent authorized by a presidential administration.