TV-star-turned-candidate Nixon smeared by own party as US Dems copy anti-Corbyn playbook

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Smeared and smeared alike: Nixon and Corbyn

Picture the scene: a popular left-wing leadership candidate threatens the status quo of an Establishment, notionally-left political party, putting at risk the painstakingly-constructed business-as-usual cosiness that it clings to.

In spite of huge threats from burgeoning right-wing extremism, the Establishment party turns on one of its own candidates, firing a nonsensical antisemitism smear in the public domain at its undeserving target.

No, we’re not talking about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the Blairite rump of the Labour Party. But it’s likely they were the model for this situation.

The candidate

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Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon, appearing on TV to discuss her campaign

Cynthia Nixon, the former star of global TV megahit Sex and the City, turned to politics and announced her bid to become the US Democratic Party’s candidate for the position of governor of New York State (NYS) – challenging the incumbent Democratic NYS governor, Andrew Cuomo.

One recent poll, although considered an outlier, had Ms Nixon over forty points behind Cuomo. Voting takes place this Thursday.

However, the stunning success of socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the race to become the Democrats’ candidate for the 14th Congressional district in New York – Ms Ocasio-Cortex is a member of Democratic Socialists of America, whose 2017 annual gathering spontaneously broke into chants of ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’ – appears to have rattled the Establishment so seriously that it is leaving nothing to chance.

The smear

Just days before the vote, the NYS state Democratic party controlled by Mr Cuomo sent out a flyer to voters accusing Ms Nixon of being,

silent on the rise of anti-Semitism.

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The controversial Democratic Party flyer

The flyer goes into detail on her supposed failings, making entirely inaccurate claims that she supports the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement and that she opposed funding for Yeshivas, private Jewish religious schools, before concluding ominously:

With anti-Semitism and bigotry on the rise, we can’t take a chance… Re-Elect Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The New York Times described it as “the lowest form of politics“.

Ms Nixon and her partner regularly attend a New York synagogue and two of her children, whose grandparents were holocaust survivors, are being raised in the Jewish faith.

The Corbyn similarities

The parallels with the recent personal smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn are obvious and inescapable – and they are not thought coincidental.

A veteran Democratic campaign staffer, who has worked on the party’s campaigns since 1992 and also watches UK politics keenly, told the SKWAWKBOX:

The fact the smear comes out of the state party is a tell – the DNC [Democratic National Committee] uses state parties to do all its dirty work.

The same goes for many candidates, who like the extra layer of plausible deniability.

This all means it was highly deliberate. It wasn’t some “mistake” as [Executive Director of the New York State Democratic Committee] Geoff Berman will say. It was quite purposeful – by the time a dollar is spent by a state party, it is decided upon and approved by many levels of the state party hierarchy.

The backlash

Whoever ultimately approved the flyer miscalculated badly. The flyer triggered an immediate and bitterly angry backlash – among both Jewish and non-Jewish people.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to condemn the Democrats’ ‘taking sides’ and to deride both the party’s response and its claim to have known nothing about the content of the mailer:

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Author Jacob Bacharach felt that the blame lay at least jointly with the incumbent candidate:

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Democratic senator Liz Krueger was “offended and aghast” at the “shameful” slur:

krueger nixon

Ms Nixon herself responded unequivocally, referring to “sickening” exploitation of such a serious issue when hate-crimes are on the increase:

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The New York Times and other media outlets joined in the outrage and incredulity.

The Democratic response

Such was the popular backlash against the smears that both the NYS Democratic party and Governor Cuomo scrambled to distance themselves from it, with the Democratic party even claiming it would rectify the situation by sending out a mailer for Ms Nixon:

This raised incredulity among media commentators:

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This response, of course, failed to address the question of why the party was taking sides in the first place – and many observers pointed out that such a mailing would be highly unlikely to land on doormats in time for Thursday’s primary.

The why and wherefore

With Cynthia Nixon by consensus significantly behind the incumbent Cuomo with only days to go until polling, why send out such a ‘low’, controversial document at such a late stage? Surely it wasn’t difficult to see that it would backfire?

Back to our Democratic insider:

I think the smear is a test run to justify using it more broadly after she loses. With the lead Cuomo had in the polls, there was no need to do it – they were trying it on for size and testing its effectiveness so they’d know if they could use it to help their preferred candidate in tight contests.

SKWAWKBOX comment:

The similarities between the attack on Cynthia Nixon and the smear campaign against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn are unmissable. But one big difference also stands out.

While US media have been vocal in condemning the smear on Nixon and rallying to the defence of its target, in the UK the mainstream media have, almost without exception, been complicit in propagating, amplifying and intensifying the constant smears against Jeremy Corbyn – and have even then claimed, after helping to ensure that it has persisted, that the persistence of the smear is evidence of its accuracy.

In spite of that shameful media collusion, Labour has seen both a polling boost and a sharp upturn in its already-huge membership, with many new joiners explicitly attributing their decision to join – many of them becoming members of a political party for the first time in their life – directly to the nature and scale of the smear campaign.

If the smear can backfire so badly in the UK, with complicit media and an Establishment united behind it, then how much more likely is the smear against Cynthia Nixon to do the reverse of its authors intent when many US media outlets are calling out the shameful cynicism and dishonesty for what they are?

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  1. Tks Skwawk, I had exactly the same thoughts when I learned they were smearing Cynthia they other day. It seems that this kind of smears is the last desperate false argument they have in store and that means victory is near. Now to help the cause of true socialism around the world we need to weaken the strenght of the zionism ideology and when we know how most of the US evengelical christians are zionists, then we understand the difficulties of the task ahead.

    1. Only two small errors Antoine – (1) keep noun singular after ‘this kind of’ and (2) ‘we know how’ should be ‘we know that’

  2. Thd other difference us that she didn’t apologise instead she came out fighting which JC should have done from the start.

  3. This is a predictable pattern.

    The reason for these antisemitism/racism smears is becoming clearer …

    Those making the accusations cannot be honest about their grievance.

    They cannot say out loud that they object to socialism or egalitarianism. It makes them look bad.

    It also brings the subject of socialism into the public arena which the mainstream does not want at any cost.

    This is why we have smears. They are anti-socialism attacks disguised as something else.

    1. There are some left-wing political commentators who are distrustful of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Some suspect she is not a true socialist and will sell-out once she gains power.

    2. Ella. Forgive me for saying so, but it’s been crystal clear to most of us for a long time that the smear campaign against Jeremy and the left – ie the (false and contrived) claims and allegations of anti-semitism and bulllying etc, etc – is happening, and HAS been happening for the past three years or so since Jeremy was elected leader, PRECISELY because we want to create a fairer, inclusive society for the many, and that the Few are doing all they can to make sure THAT never happens.

      The whole co-ordinated black propaganda op is designed to ‘transform’ a good, decent, caring man, a man of peace, into a bad man, and ditto for his supporters and, as such, consign us to the dustbin of history. But their ‘campaign’ of vilification isn’t just focused on smearing us on a personal level, and their army of shills are everywhere (in Comments sections) citing the situation in Venezuala as an example of what would happen here if JC was elected and formed a government. But No, they could hardly attack him – and feign anger and outrage – for wanting to create a fairer, egalitarian society.

  4. How long until she’s the unholy spawn of richard milhous nixon?

    Strange, how the (utterly corrupt and freeloading) clinton’s DNC and (the utterly corrupt and freeloading) bliars’ ‘progress’ acolytes resort to the same measures, innit?

  5. I think it would improve things if the Skwawkbox commentary had a different coloured background, or an obviously different typeface or something.

    Something to distinguish itself from the quotes, excepts and screenshots. It gets a bit confusing…

  6. I am extremely uneasy about drawing parallels between US and UK politics. It is a totally different system in a totally alien country. The fact that we think we understand the language simply confuses the issue. Especially vide your apparent defence of Ms Nixon on the grounds that she doesn’t support BDS and she doesn’t oppose private education! Really?
    We have enough problems fighting our own right wing, we really don’t want to get snarled up with an American Democratic party whose idea of a rabid lefty is someone to the right of Margaret Hodge.

    1. Where was the defence of it? It was an observation of the falsity of the accusation

  7. I agree with those comrades wary of these forays into American politics.

    As regards Ella’s comment about certain personalities not being true socialists, shouldn’t we look closer to home?

    John McDonnell’s speech yesterday – however laudable its workers’ rights content – seemed to promote the replacement of the aim of a largely publicly-owned economy with the aim of employee share ownership, an idea floated in the Kinnock years by his then lieutenant Bryan Gould.

    This seems an attempt to replace the objective of democratic socialism with a permanent acceptance of a dominant private sector and a co-opting of workers into the corporate interest.

    Yet because of the fan club mentality which now rules the roost on the Labour Left it seems that criticism of the policies of the Left leadership is simply not kosher. So we have to settle for articles about foreign climes instead.

    1. I agree with everything you’ve said.

      Incidentally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with following political shenanigans that are happening in other countries, especially the US, as what happens over there usually ends up happening over here. The class struggle is still the class struggle.

      The working class and the Left have been conditioned and brainwashed to limit what we ask for. A cultural epiphany is required so that we feel entitled to demand everything we want for the working class without settling for second best.

      This is already happening in the United States. For example, striking teachers who’ve been told by the establishment: ‘you can’t can’t ask for that, you can’t demand that’ etc etc have stopped listening to the noise and have demanded what they want anyway.

      That needs to happen here too – a realisation that we, as a unified force, hold the balance of power and thus we can dictate instead of being dictated to.

      The Left and the Working Class have been denied a voice in Britain for so long, it seems to my mind, understandable that “fan clubs” should exist. It doesn’t matter so much if a politician is perfect or not, but they will improve things for the working class in the short term is still valuable. Things can always be built upon and improved.

  8. I thought in contests it was about ideas and then let people choose based on these.
    Dirty tactics is always a sign of desperation and perhaps an intellectual void.
    Cuomo No No!

  9. Interesting. New York Times today mentions the IHRA definition in a report. It’s referred to as ‘highly controversial’. What a difference an ocean (and a different political point to push) make.

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