Ratfucking - A GOP Tradition
Did you ever wonder what some of the obnoxious trolls claiming to be Obama supporters are hoping to accomplish by insulting the supporters of Hillary Clinton? Their tactics aren't likely to win converts, and seem designed to make enemies.
Maybe they aren't really Obama supporters after all.
Maybe they are a special breed of GOP trolls called "ratfuckers."
Ratfucking is an American slang term for political sabotage or dirty tricks. It was first brought to public attention during the Watergate scandal investigation that during the 1972 presidential campaign the Nixon campaign committee maintained a "dirty tricks" unit focused on discrediting Nixon's strongest challengers.
According to Woodward and Bernstein, Nixon aide Dwight Chapin hired fellow USC alumnus Donald Segretti to run a campaign of dirty tricks (which Segretti dubbed "ratfucking") against the Democrats in 1972. The purpose of the operation was to create as much bitterness and disunity within the Democrat primary as possible. One notable example of Segretti's wrong-doing was a faked letter on Democratic presidential candidate Edmund Muskie's letterhead falsely alleging that U.S. Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson, a fellow Democrat, had had an illegitimate child with a 17-year-old.
Among the tactics were: canceling meeting-hall reservations just prior to rallies, putting out false press releases or "leaked documents" in the name of political opponents, spying on rival campaigns, putting plants into rival campaigns, purloining speeches and information, vote contracting, jamming phone lines, ordering vast quantities of food for delivery in the name of rival campaigns, hiring "rioters" and "activists, conducting deceptive or offensive get out the vote phone canvasses, push polls, and similar activities.
Before the 1972 election, Edmund Muskie was viewed as a frontrunner for the Democratic Presidential nomination. Although Muskie won the Iowa caucuses and went on to win the New Hampshire primary, his campaign faltered. The collapse of Muskie's momentum early in the 1972 campaign is partly attributed to dirty tricks. Prior to the New Hampshire primary, the so-called "Canuck Letter" was published in the Manchester Union-Leader. The letter claimed that Muskie had made disparaging remarks about French-Canadians—a remark likely to injure Muskie's support among the French-Canadian population in northern New England.
FBI investigators later determined that the Canuck Letter was a forged document and was part of the Nixon dirty-tricks operation.
Segretti recruited Karl Rove, the executive director of the College Republicans, to work in this dirty tricks campaign. In the fall of 1970, Rove had used a false identity to enter the campaign office of Democrat Alan J. Dixon, who was running for Treasurer of Illinois. He stole 1000 sheets of paper with campaign letterhead, printed fake campaign rally fliers promising "free beer, free food, girls and a good time for nothing", and distributed them at rock concerts and homeless shelters, with the effect of disrupting Dixon's rally.
From The Rise and Fall of Turd Blossom by Sidney Blumenthal (Salon, Aug 16 2007):
"Rove conducted one session training young Republicans to sift through the garbage of opponents. In the Watergate scandal, Segretti was sentenced to prison for forging campaign literature. The FBI questioned Rove, but dropped its investigation of the small fry. Yet he would become the greatest "ratfucker" of them all."
As a protégé of Segretti, Rove helped to paint Nixon opponent George McGovern as a "left-wing peacenik", in spite of McGovern's heroism during World War II piloting a B-24.
Rove held the position of executive director of the College Republicans until early 1973. He left the job to spend five months, without pay, campaigning full time for the position of national chairman of the organization. Lee Atwater, the group's Southern regional coordinator, managed Rove's campaign. The two spent the spring of 1973 crisscrossing the country in a Ford Pinto, lining up the support of Republican state chairs.
The College Republicans summer 1973 convention was quite contentious. Rove's opponent was Robert Edgeworth. A number of states had sent two competing delegates, because Rove and his supporters had made credentials challenges at state and regional conventions. For example, after the Midwest regional convention, Rove forces had produced a version of the Midwestern College Republicans constitution which differed significantly from the constitution that the Edgeworth forces were using, in order to justify the unseating of the Edgeworth delegates on procedural grounds. In the end, there were two votes, conducted by two convention chairs, and two winners — Rove and Edgeworth, each of whom delivered an acceptance speech. After the convention, both Edgeworth and Rove appealed to Republican National Committee Chairman George H. W. Bush, each contending that he was the new College Republican chairman.
While resolution was pending, Terry Dolan, a supporter of Edgeworth, went (anonymously) to the Washington Post with recordings of several training seminars for young Republicans where Rove discussed campaign techniques that included rooting through opponents' garbage cans. On August 10, 1973, in the midst of the Watergate scandal, the Post broke the story in an article titled "Republican Party Probes Official as Teacher of Tricks."
On September 6, 1973, three weeks after announcing his intent to investigate the allegations against Rove, George H. W. Bush chose Rove to be chairman of the College Republicans. Bush then wrote Edgeworth a letter saying that he had concluded that Rove had fairly won the vote at the convention. Edgeworth wrote back, asking about the basis of that conclusion. Not long after that, Edgeworth has said, "Bush sent me back the angriest letter I have ever received in my life. I had leaked to the Washington Post, and now I was out of the Party forever."
As National Chairman, Rove introduced Bush to Atwater, who had taken Rove's job as the College Republican's executive director, and who would become Bush's main campaign strategist in future years.
COMING SOON - Ratfucking with Lee and Karl
(Except as noted, all references are taken from Wikipedia.)