Rewriting the dictionary

Smear, according to one dictionary:

charge falsely or with malicious intent; attack the good name and reputation of someone; “The journalists have defamed me!” “The article in the paper sullied my reputation”

Smear campaign, according to the dictionary:

An attempt to ruin a reputation by slander or vilification, as in This press agent is well known for starting smear campaigns against her clients’ major competitors. This phrase was first recorded in 1938 and uses smear in the sense of “an attempt to discredit” or “slander.”

Smear, as defined by various and sundry leftists:

To expose someone’s own words and deeds in an attempt to present an accurate portrayal of that person.

Examples:

The Swift Boat Veterans For Truth “smeared” John Kerry by exposing his fabrications, misstatements, and exaggerations about his service in Viet Nam — most famously, the “Christmas In Cambodia” fairy tale.

Right-wing blogs “smeared” Amanda Marcotte, the brief in-house blogger for the John Edwards campaign, by reprinting her own words, in full context, for all to see.

Right-wingers routinely “smear” Bill Clinton by pointing out that, by his own admission, he raised his hand in a legal proceeding, swore to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and proceeded to lie his ass off to protect himself from embarrassment and financial culpability — an action that resulted in his impeachment and disbarment.

Republicans regularly “smear” Democrats by taking the Democrats’ stated positions, policies, and notions and comparing them with those of our declared enemies — and noting striking parallels.

Critics of Al Gore “smear” him by pointing out that his home consumes far, far more electricity than the average person’s, even when scaled up to reflect the size of his mansion.

I have my own definition of “smear.” It involves a few elements that tend to get overlooked by the left. “Falseness” is one. “Guilt by association” is another. “Irrelevance” is occasionally a third.

Let’s see a few examples of what I would consider “smearing,” using former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney as my representative.

(Disclaimer: I find myself liking Romney, but I’m not certain I’ll vote for him. He seems a genuinely decent and honest guy, and I can live with most of his policies. But the nightmare of a “health insurance plan” he left the Bay State with has all the makings of a major train wreck, and he put his fingerprints all over it.)

Last fall, the Boston Globe decided that Mitt Romney’s stance on illegal aliens was not to their liking. So they did some digging.

“Digging” in the sense of “Big Dig-scale excavations.”

They investigated the (American-owned) landscaping company that tended his lawn. After serious investigation (including sending two reporters to Latin America), they found out that the company hired illegal aliens, some of whom (gasp!) worked on Romney’s yard.

Funny enough, they never mentioned that Romney not only had no legal obligation to make sure his contractor’s employees were legal, but (as I understand it) was legally forbidden from demanding to see such proof. Romney had done all he was obliged and permitted to, but that wasn’t enough. So that one falls under the “irrelevant” category.

Recently, it came out that Mitt Romney’s great-great-grandfather was a polygamist. This, of course, was because the Romney family have been Mormons for generations, and back then it was common. Never mind that out of all the leading Republican candidates, Romney is the only one still with his first (and only) wife; he had a POLYGAMIST!!!!!! ancestor. There’s your “guilt by association.”

(Also, the Boston Globe’s attempts to play up his Mormonism in relation to the Christian Right and any bad blood between them is another of that example.)

I don’t have any examples of the out-and-out lying type of smear against Romney at hand, but I do recall that during his 1994 run for the United States Senate, where he challenged Ted Kennedy, there was some serious fibbing going on against him.

Adlai Stevenson once famously said: “If the Republicans will stop telling lies about us, we’ll stop telling the truth about them.” And Harry Truman, when a supporter yelled out “Give ’em Hell, Harry!,” answered “”I don’t give ’em hell. I just tell the truth on them; it makes them feel like they’re in Hell!”

How far the Democratic party has fallen in the 50 years since those two statesmen strode the earth.

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