Tom Fulks

Hillary Clinton and Adam Hill: Not perfect, but gifted and ready to serve

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton AP

Hillary Clinton and Adam Hill have a lot in common.

The presidential candidate and the San Luis Obispo County supervisor both have sustained years of vicious personal attacks, venomous obloquy and false accusations of wrongdoing.

Both have made mistakes. Both have done dumb things. Both have said cringe-worthy, stupid stuff. And both have their own email scandals.

Both have proved time and again they’re human.

Yet both remain standing, ready to serve, imperfect but gifted, competent public servants.

Their critics are of a piece, professional carpers funded by hidden interests, motivated by personal animus and lust for political power.

In Clinton’s case, they’ve been at it since the early 1990s. In Hill’s case, since he was elected in 2008.

With both politicians, critics are abetted in their for-profit scalp hunting by their more-than-willing media pals.

For Clinton, it’s been Fox News, the online Drudge Report and anger radio, led by Rush Limbaugh and imitators. For Hill, it’s been the online CalCoastNews, whose poison is uncritically ladled up almost daily by local AM hate radio and anonymous Facebook sycophants.

The CCN site not only has run more than 100 un-factual, un-sourced, unsubstantiated, anti-Hill opinions disguised as “news” over the past many months, it also serves as an undisclosed campaign platform for Hill’s opponent, Dan Carpenter.

With both Clinton and Hill, their haters make accusations, spread them online, then let the innocent fend for themselves. It’s now become a proven campaign tactic that works nationally all the way down to local races.

A token list of examples: Donald Trump — megaphoned by Fox News et al. — has accused Hillary of using the Clinton Foundation to launder money from unfriendly countries. That’s false, according to Politifact, a fact-checking project operated by the Tampa Bay Times.

She’s accused of lying about Benghazi (false), refusing to provide enough security (false) and murdering four Americans who died during the attack (false). She created the Islamic State group (false), gave Iran $400 million (false), rigged the debate schedule (false) and committed election fraud (false).

The trick in smearing your opponent is not to convince voters your allegations are true, but in repeating them — over and over. When you continually hear an accusation so many times, there must be an element of truth. Right?

Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks describes Trump’s method of smear as something akin to a multi-note Gatling gun.

“His speech patterns are like something straight out of a psychiatric textbook,” Brooks says. “Manics display something called ‘flight of ideas.’ It’s a formal thought disorder in which ideas tumble forth through a disordered chain of associations. One word sparks another, which sparks another, and they’re off to the races.”

That could describe Carpenter’s recent anti-Hill opinion piece in The Tribune, which first appeared on CCN, much of it cribbed from a COLAB newsletter.

The trick in smearing your opponent is not to convince voters your allegations are true, but in repeating them — over and over. When you continually hear an accusation so many times, there must be an element of truth. Right?

Absent coherent argumentation, Carpenter’s ham-fisted smear rambled from “failed energy policies” to “broken narrative” in random word upchuck: “irresponsible,” “subterfuge,” “offensive,” “insulting,” “undependable” and “malfeasance.”

Carpenter argued that Hill is responsible for PG&E’s decision to close the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. This is manifestly false.

Carpenter accused Hill of conspiring with PG&E to bolster his campaign. A written timeline from the county outlining a Diablo Canyon water desalination project — unanimously supported by county supervisors, including Carpenter supporter Lynn Compton — definitively disproves the lie.

None of the attacks proffered in Carpenter’s opinion piece were supported by facts, because there are none. His smears and innuendo are, however, perpetuated by CCN, recirculated by local hate radio and social media, then repeated by Carpenter’s campaign as validation of his (and COLAB’s) original lies.

Carpenter also has pounced on the latest email imbroglio reported in Thursday’s New Times.

Dumb move on Hill’s part. But as I see it, Hill was being his typical obnoxious self — not shaking down people for campaign donations.

As with Trump’s constant attacks on Clinton to distract from his many faults, Carpenter clearly wants to divert attention from his own record, which is anathema to District 3’s traditionally environmental, liberal voters.

Hill led the effort to secure public funding for the wildly popular Pismo Preserve project in the hills above Shell Beach. Carpenter was the only public official to vote against it.

Carpenter opposed successful local school bond measures, opposed popular bike trail projects, and was one of only five elected officials countywide to oppose putting a measure on the November ballot for a half-cent sales tax to pay for repairing crumbling roads and bridges and for easing traffic congestion.

These are all things Hill, the business community and most District 3 voters support.

Clinton and Hill — two hard-working, well-qualified public servants. They must be doing something right.

It’s why their haters make things up.

Liberal columnist Tom Fulks is a former reporter and opinion writer. He has been a political campaign consultant for many local races. His column runs in The Tribune every other Sunday, in rotation with conservative columnist Matthew Hoy.