How Tweeden helps Republicans (and harms America)
The plan hatched by Leeann Tweedon, Sean Hannity and Roger Stone to slime Senator Al Franken with false allegations of sexual impropriety serves a number of dangerous purposes. We need to be aware of what they’re doing and why.
I’ve broken it down into seven parts. There may be more aspects, but these are the major ones I see.
- Franken himself.
First and most obviously, these allegations are designed to weaken a tireless advocate for women and for women’s rights. More than that, he’s been an effective advocate for civil rights, voting rights, education, the environment — everything Democrats believe in.
This psyops attack could have been leveled at any one of several dozen effective Democratic Senators or Representatives. Frankin is being targeted because he has also been effective in holding the Administration’s toes to the fire as part of the Senate Intelligence Committee hearings. Hurting him hurts not only Democratic causes, but even the Trump/Russia investigation.
2. Believing the victim.
This attack on Franken also damages the growing movement to believe the victims of sexual assault. As the accusations are proven to be false, this will be used to cast doubt on others. it’s an insidious way for the reactionary right to attack the credibility of all women.
The best way to lie is to tell a partial truth, and the closer it is to the truth, the better is the lie, because it seems more believable. That’s how psyops works. Tweeden did go on a USO tour with Franken in 2006, and did do a bit in which she complains that he wrote the script as an excuse to kiss her. That line is actually in the script, and there is video of them doing that exact skit in 2003, three years before the event at which now Tweeden says he wrote the skit.
The “groping” picture was taken as part of the 2006 tour, but Franken never actually touched her (through a flak jacket no less) and has apologized for the inappropriate attempt at humor. Tweeden accepted his apology. Franken called for an investigation into his own conduct. Tweeden said that isn’t needed.
It always takes longer to debunk a lie than to tell a lie, and the debunking is always more complex than the lie. That, too, is an important element of psyops.
Despite the realities, this is all still being pushed for its political impact, partly as a right-wing attempt to discredit women who accuse abusers of abusing them. If such a high-profile accusation can turn out to be baseless (or at best, intensely overblown), why should we listen to other women? That question is precisely what the GOP wants us to be asking. The only way for Democrats to be “consistent” is to even believe what is clearly politically-motivated dishonesty. GOP wants Democrats to be caught in this bind.
3. False equivalence.
The media storm draws a false equivalence to accused pedophiles such as Roy Moore and Donald Trump. The behavior in the false Franken allegations, while inexcusable, is most certainly not on the level of raping children or other such heinous felonies. Yet the right-wing media is trying very hard to blur those distinctions. This both blows offensive behavior out of proportion and trivializes rape. It is an outright assault on the whole concept of justice.
But even were Senator Franken to be forced to resign for these comparatively mild accusations, don’t imagine for a moment that Roy Moore would withdraw from his Senate bid, or that there would be calls from the right for Trump to step down. The false equivalence here is false in every possible sense. The attack on Franken is intended to hold Democrats to a standard Republicans would never agree to for themselves. That’s another way you know the equivalence is false.
4. Roy Moore.
As an effect of drawing that false equivalence and weakening our system of justice, it will also serve to defend Roy Moore, who is in an unexpectedly difficult Senate run. If Franken stays, Republicans say, Moore shouldn’t be criticized. That’s their point in drawing the false equivalence.
Republicans need Moore in the Senate to enact their agenda. The intent is to weaken the outrage at his habit of child molestation, by pretending Democrats shouldn’t be in a position of throwing stones, since Franken is rumored to have done something entirely different.
This argument is only credible if people become convinced that false charges of inappropriate touching of an adult are somehow comparable to raping children. Seriously, that’s what you’re being asked to accept.
This is all an intentional distraction from a whole range of damage Republicans are doing to our nation. Any time and effort spent dealing with this flashy sex scandal is time and effort not spent on opposing a dangerous tax bill, or defending Net Neutrality, or stopping the avalanche of unqualified extremist judicial appointees, or Tillerson and Trump dismantling the State Department, or the mushrooming effects of climate change, or the conspiracy between Trump and Putin to destroy American democracy, or any one of dozens of other issues of actual importance.
Attention diverted to sexcapades helps blind America to creeping fascism. It’s a modern version of bread and circuses, an opiate for dumasses, a way of getting all of America focused on what the magician’s left hand is doing while his right is murdering the rabbit in the hat. And we’re falling for it.
This story divides Democrats against each other, weakening the unity that the Resistance must have if we are to combat the neo-feudal fascist regime seizing power in our nation. Just as Russian psyops helped drive a wedge between supporters of Bernie Sanders the Democratic ticket in 2016, the false Franken allegations are being used in an attempt to weaken women’s support for Democrats — and women are, in general, far more supportive of Democrats than are men.
This is an attempt to destroy the base support for Democrats all over the country and up and down all ballots. How many liberals and Democrats are falling over themselves to insist Franken must go — ignoring all the factors I list above? Single-issue politics is the death of any coalition, particularly when that single issue triggers an erosion of perspective (see point 3 above — is this really the incident you want to see American democracy to die over?).
Divide-and-conquer is a time-honored psyops technique that has existed ever since there have been more than two people on Earth. It’s why feminists, BLM people, Hispanic immigrants, the elderly who rely on Social Security, students, transgender folk, and others — all of whom are being targeted by the same fascist GOP policies — don’t all speak with one voice. Pitting us against ourselves is the Republican way.
7. Rehearsal and refinement.
Finally, the Franken drama is the fascist psyops machine stretching its muscles and gearing up for 2018 and 2020. They’re developing and honing a technique of weaponizing Democratic issues to use against Democrats.
This is one more way they will come at us. Whether it succeeds or fails, this attack on Senator Franken will be used by Republicans and Russians as a learning exercise, to help them improve in their methods of disinformation and damaging propaganda.
They did damn well in 2016. But we’ve learned quite a lot about how they did what they did. We are finding ways to deal with that. Which means we’ll be fighting the last war. They’re moving on, to new issues, new techniques, new ways to screw us. The attacks on Franken are part of their rehearsal for the future.
None of these techniques, goals, or assaults on Americanism are new. Republicans have been doing this for decades. They’re just getting better at it, and using Russian psyops methods to do it.
If we don’t recognize what they’re doing, they’ll get better at it faster than we can possibly respond. Whether they succeed is up to you.
(For further reading, go here. Lots of data, and brilliantly written and sourced.)
(And here’s another article explaining why the now-famous “groping” picture doesn’t show “groping” and isn’t even about “groping” at all — though it may be about how really stupid some guys are.)