Lincoln Project’s Dirty Tricks
Can we stop pretending these trolls and grifters are Republicans?
I found the juxtaposition of the above photo and the headline “The Lincoln Project sent a group posing as white supremacists with tiki torches to a GOP campaign event in Virginia ahead of the state’s gubernatorial election” at Business Insider rather amusing. Clayton Bigsby notwithstanding, few were likely to be fooled.
Regardless, the story itself is mildly disturbing:
A group of people carrying tiki torches turned up to an event for Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Friday, posing in front of his tour bus.
Turns out, they were sent by the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump Republican group.
The tiki torches were a nod to the 2017 “Unite the Right rally” in Charlottesville, when white supremacists and neo-Nazis marched with tiki torches in hand, with some chanting “Jews will not replace us.”
The stunt came the same week a civil trial began against the rally’s organizers and days before Virginia’s gubernatorial election on November 2.
I really wish media outlets would stop pretending that the Lincoln Project is a “Republican group.” While there were some prominent #NeverTrump Republicans affiliated with the organization, it was always a grift at the leadership level. And it has long since morphed into a Democratic-leaning organization.
Regardless, people quickly caught on to the stunt, which seems to have backfired. Well, at least if the intent was to help McAuliffe rather than garner attention for the Lincoln Project.
WaPo (“Lincoln Project organized a group to carry torches at Youngkin event in Charlottesville“):
Before the Lincoln Project claimed responsibility, some Twitter users started suggesting it was a political stunt by Democratic operatives. Others shamed Youngkin for allowing the demonstration at the event. Both Youngkin and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe denied being connected to the group. The Youngkin campaign accused McAuliffe of setting up the event. Rich Anderson, chair of the Republican Party of Virginia, tweeted that the event was a “mockery” of the events in Charlottesville, blaming McAuliffe for the stunt and his “failure to lead” as governor in 2017. The state’s Democratic Party called efforts to tie it with the event “shameful and wrong.”
“What happened today is disgusting and distasteful and we condemn it in the strongest terms,” McAuliffe campaign manager Chris Bolling said in a prepared statement after the Lincoln Project took responsibility for the matter. “Those involved should immediately apologize.”
Mark Rozell, dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, said that if the political stunt was intended to help McAuliffe, it took things too far. “The overreach backfires because it is so ridiculous in its execution it hurts the point they’re trying to make,” Rozell said.
The Hill (“Lincoln Project says it sent people with tiki torches to Youngkin event“):
McAuliffe’s campaign condemned the stunt.
“What happened today in Charlottesville is disgusting and distasteful and the McAuliffe campaign condemns it in the strongest terms,” McAuliffe’s campaign manager Chris Bolling tweeted. “Those involved should immediately apologize.”
The Virginia Democratic Party said it did not have “any role” in Friday’s event, and said it was “shameful and wrong” to make any such allegations.
Vice News has identified one of the people involved as Lauren Windsor, a liberal activist known for going undercover to get politicians to share their unfiltered thoughts.
Connor Rogers, who previously worked as the Lincoln Project’s digital director, said that Heather Heyer, the counter-protester who died in Charlottesville, is “not a prop or a stunt.”
Dirty tricks of this sort have a long history but just have no place in our politics.
Agreed. They may be on the right side of history, but they do themselves and the cause no favors with stunts like this.
No. Most Democrats don’t trust them any farther than they could throw them, and I doubt any of those associated are in this for the ideological gains. They are continuing this work for two reasons: the aforementioned grift, and to needle the Republican Party–which is full-on supportive of/protecting Trump, we can all agree–and not because they adhere to any Democratic objectives or outcomes.
Just because they know where the money is doesn’t make them a “Democratic-leaning organization.”
@Jen: Yes, that’s fair. But most of their staff are full-on Democratic/progressive activists; I don’t think there are any McCain Republicans trying to save the republic from Trumpers still associated with the Project.
Big assumptions. Proof?
It is kinda assholish, but at the same time very salient political criticism as performance.
I think it is over the top, but I also like it in a way.
Very cheeky. Maybe too much since someone died in Charlottesville – Heather Heyer died. 35 were injured in the same attack.
Staff or leadership? Steve Schmidt is still listed as a leader, as are Rick Wilson, Reed Galen, Stuart Stevens, and Tara Setmayer. AFAIK, they’re all Republicans, and Schmidt worked for McCain.
Oh no, people with khakis, white shirts, MAGA Hats, and tiki torches showed up to at a Youngkin event to remind his supporters a president who tweeted a White Power video on June 28 2020 will be rallying for Youngkin on Monday?
Somebody better get the Boomers their smelling salts. ::rolls eyes::
Wait — there are trolls and grifters in the Republican party? Quick, someone alert all the sane, responsible non-troll, non-grifters in the party. Like Ron deSantis. Or Greg Abbot. Or Madison Cawthorne. Or Lauren Boebert. Or Mitch McConnell. Or Donald Trump. Or…
They were always going to claim it was DEMs doing a “false flag operation”. It’s their go to excuse. That’s exactly what a number of people have claimed about every fascist stunt the RWNJs pull. This time it was projection of their projection of projections.
In other words, this complaint rings rather hollow.
So many pearls to clutch, “My kingdom for a fainting couch!”
Somebody should tell the GOP.
As Trump reminded us, there were good people on both sides.
One side rammed a car into the other.
Here’s my concern: rather than remind people who need reminding this kind of thing gives cover to white supremacists because it feeds the fake news narrative. After all, if the guys at the Youngkin rally were fake, maybe the ones a couple of years ago were also fake.
Or, it will allow politicians who have real white supremacists show up at their events to dismiss them as plants.
@Steven L. Taylor:
I agree with both your positions. And there’s a slight chance it might alienate some of the real supremacists from voting for a Trump clone.
This may be a naive question, but didn’t the fact that one of the alleged white supremacists is a Black man sort of suggest that this might be a hoax?
Trolls and grifters? What could be more Republican than that? What @CSK: said, and I’m having trouble getting outraged over reminding people of what Youngkin is associated with. Youngkin wants to have it both ways, get support from Trump but pretend he has nothing to do with Trumpism. Why let him get away with it?
@Steven L. Taylor: @Steven L. Taylor:
They’re doing all that now. For which see Tucker Carlson on the 1/6 bozos.
@Steven L. Taylor: “Or, it will allow politicians who have real white supremacists show up at their events to dismiss them as plants.”
Like those Democrats such as segregationist George Wallace (Democrat)? The percentage of House Democrats who supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964? 61 percent. House Republicans? 80 percent. In the Senate, 69 percent of Democrats voted yes, compared with 82 percent of Republicans. (Barry Goldwater, a supporter of the NAACP, voted no because he thought it was unconstitutional.)
When he was running for president in 2000, Vice President Al Gore told the NAACP that his father, Senator Al Gore Sr., had lost his Senate seat because he voted for the Civil Rights Act. Uplifting story — except it’s false. Gore Sr. voted against the Civil Rights Act. He lost in 1970 in a race that focused on prayer in public schools, the Vietnam War, and the Supreme Court.
Those of us who follow history know that the true racists are Democrats.
I ask this sincerely, Dr. Joyner. Who in the National GOP leadership is serious about legislating, honestly and ethically? Give me one name.
Mitch McConnell? Nope. Not after Garland and Barrett.
Kevin McCarthy? Nope.
Spare me to fake outrage. The GOP is ALMOST COMPLETELY TROLLS AND GRIFTERS, and has been for a while now.
Hence the Clayton Bigsby reference. But most who picked on up that would have thought it a McAuliffe dirty trick rather than some unaligned group.
@EddieInCA: McConnell is clearly interested in legislating, but only when a Republican is in the White House. Ditto some of the other Republicans in the Senate.
I think Romney would be an old-style Republican legislator if he could. Likely many more.
I think the governors are legitimately trying to govern; I just don’t like their policy preferences, which are weird and seem more about riling up the base than ideology.
My problem with the Lincoln Project is that it pretends to be a bastion of old-style Republicans making a stand against the Trump takeover when it’s clearly not that. And the Post and Times continue to go along with the scam.
I had to Google “Clayton Bigsby” just now to find out who he is. I don’t follow Chappelle that closely.
Meanwhile, in Cancel Culture,
@Steven L. Taylor:
I get this. I truly do. But, there is so much “reminding” that needs to be done, that I don’t know if the country can afford being nuanced. Youngkin is managing to run without the stink of the GOP’s openness to white supremacy hurting him too much. People need to be reminded what Republicans like him are willing to accept to hold power.
And @James Joyner, if standing up against Trumpism is what makes the Lincoln Project Democratic-leaning, than let’s hope we all are.
@James Joyner: “I think Romney would be an old-style Republican legislator if he could.”
Funny how time after time when offered the opportunity to do so he runs away like a scared little child, only to return much later to give sanctimonious soundbites about crossing the aisle.
“If he could.” He’s a US senator, elected for six years at a time. He could if he wanted to. He might risk his seat, but that doesn’t say he can’t do it — it just says he prioritizes his own hobby job over living up to his own principles.
“If he could?” What does that mean? Does Romney have no agency at all? He was the Republican candidate for POTUS less than a decade ago and he’s powerless to stand up against the Trump takeover? If no establishment GOP pols are going to step up to the task, shouldn’t whatever few old-style Republicans be grateful that at least a few scammers are willing to carry the load?
@wr: @Scott F.: He’s just in No Man’s Land. I don’t think re-election per se is what drives him. But he has zero leverage inside the party unless he largely goes along with the party line.
@Scott F.: They simply support Democratic candidates and progressive causes at this point. They’re trolling Mitt Romney and Kyrsten Sinema who, if they were truly old-style Republicans, they’d be seeking to bolster into a Trumpist alternative.
1) To deny that the people behind the Lincoln Project can be Republicans is to accept that the definition of Republican has come to mean nothing but slavish obedience to Trump.
2) Romney is a weak man and a coward. Don’t make excuses for cowards.
Forgive me, but I’m confused:
“I think Romney would be an old-style Republican legislator if he could.”
“…Mitt Romney and Kysten Sinema who, if they were truly old-style Republicans, they’d be seeking to bolster a Trumpist alternative.”
I don’t understand. Are you saying Romney is or isn’t?
@CSK: Naw, he may have just been the tok…
Nope, not gonna go there. Wouldn’t be prudent.
@John430: All I can say is that it isn’t the 1960s and so trying to make hay out of votes and behaviors in the 1960s is kind of silly.
If it makes you feel any better, the Dems who voted “no” to the Civil Rights Act were wrong to do so. But what does that have to do with right now?
You either do not understand the history and its relevance to now or you are allowing some talking point you heard elsewhere dominate your thinking.
I suspect that you simply don’t see the situation is as dire as I believe it to be, but this is a “you’re either with us or against us” moment in American politics if there ever was one.
I have to say, I find your position here a little surprising since it’s your former party that has turned to the dark side not mine. I can say with confidence that if my party had determined that the only way it could hold power was to climb into bed with whatever would be the leftist equivalent of the white nationalists, seditionists, and conspiracy theorists holding sway of the GOP right now, then I would seek allies wherever I could find them in order to wrest control back to a point I could stomach.
Romney and the likely many more Republicans you imagine are not in No Man’s Land. They don’t represent an alternative to Trumpism if they are willing to turn a blind eye. They are on Team Trump until such time as they openly and vociferously stand against the takeover. Like Cheney and Kinzinger, it will likely cost them power before any restoration is possible, but there is nothing honorable, or even forgivable, about holding power at all cost.
I don’t disagree but would argue that the stunt being discussed was actually way too nuanced for the kind of reminders we need.
@CSK: Me too. I don’t follow Chapelle at all, though. The first thing I’ve ever seen of his was the video posted here a while ago, and my reaction to that was that when I want to hear a sermon, I go to church. Different strokes, I guess.
@wr: “he prioritizes his own hobby job over living up to his own principles.”
You give the vulture capitalist more credit than I do. I hold that the only principle he lives by outside of his actions toward Mormons and as one is IGM;FU.
If it was intended as “salient political criticism” or a way “to remind [Youngkin’s] supporters a president who tweeted a White Power video…will be rallying for Youngkin on Monday” rather than a deliberate attempt to trick people into thinking they were actual white supremacist supporters of Youngkin, all they had to do was add a sign saying something like, “Hey Youngkin, remember this?” or “A vote for Youngkin/Trump is a vote for these people!”. Absent such signs, I don’t buy that this was anything but a clumsy, but still repugnant, lie.
Absolutely. So, why give them a genuine example to point to as evidence in support of their nutty claims?
That’s not what leverage is. Or leadership. Or anything other than following. Leverage for what?
Romney had a really ok Child Tax Credit idea, before it was included in BBB, and he could be running around, prying a few other Republicans loose to claim credit for a major part of the Biden agenda.
He could be pushing a centrist alternative to the radical authoritarian Republicans. He isn’t.
Instead, Manchin is.
Also, imagine the chaos Romney could create in the Democrats if he said that he would vote for reconciliation if X, Y and Z. Do Democrats want Romney’s vote AND the amazing goal of bipartisanship, or Bernie’s vote? I think we know what Manchin would choose.
That’s leverage. That affects outcomes.
This was just an obvious misfire, I have to wonder if it was on purpose. TLP took a huge funding hit when Trump left office. If Youngkin wins, the GOP will get worse, convinced that burning books and screaming at school boards is the path to victory. And TLP will be there to rake in the funds tut-tutting about it.
History didn’t stop in 1970. There’s been another 50 years of it since then.
@Hal_10000: I think there are some true believers in the Lincoln Project. Unfortunately, they were also true believers in the Republican Party not long ago, and didn’t realize that their party was filled with racists and loons and authoritarians until it was too late, so I don’t know if I trust them to recognize whether TLP is filled with grifters.
@Steven L. Taylor: They’ve already tried dismissing them as “plants.” Remember the meme that the Capitol assault on January 6 was the work of BLM, Antifa, or both.
@James Joyner: “But he has zero leverage inside the party unless he largely goes along with the party line.”
You mean he has leverage as long as he follows blindly whatever Mitch tells him to do? What kind of leverage is that?
He could stand up against Trump. He could vote with the Democrats when he knows they’re right. He could vote, for instance, for voting rights. He could take moral stands and hope ultimately to lead by example.
But that’s hard. And people will be mad at him. It’s so much easier just to go along and pretend you have “leverage”.
He chooses not to. It’s that simple. His family ain’t going broke if he loses an election.
And Tucker Carlson is going to prove that Jan. 6 was a false flag operation.
@James Joyner: Well, you got a lot of pushback on Romney. But you also mentioned McConnell and unnamed governors.
When McConnell did have a majority and a GOP prez he seemed little interested in anything except high end tax cuts and Federalist judges. Have you evidence of any interest in legislating beyond that?
My own “Governor” DeUseless has evidenced no interest in governance beyond donor service and pandering to the base. Other GOPs, Mike DeWine for one, tried to respond to the pandemic. But now I mostly see them backing down from any meaningful action. Noem and others dove enthusiastically into pretending COVID doesn’t exist.
If anyone in the Lincoln Project is genuinely interested in reforming the Party, they’re pissing in the wind. There’s no hope for Republicans unless they crash and burn.
The Lincoln Project has been exposed as a scam and their stunt is in poor taste, that said I cannot but laugh in looking at the picture.
The New England Republican governors–Charlie Baker, Phil Scott, and Chris Sununu–have been pretty responsible about Covid all along.
Evidence is sorely lacking. The last time he had majorities, he passed a tax cut for rich people and corporations (a Republican door stop would have signed that) and failed to repeal the ACA.
Other than judges, that is all they/he did.
You need to wake up James.
@R. Dave: Because so the f what? Whether we own up to our stunts or not, they are going to claim we are doing the same things they do to muddy the waters. Especially if they do something we had nothing to do with.
I say do it, and own our own shit. They never will.
Why in the fuck do people continue to believe that playing on the moral high ground while your opponent creates a subsidence that swallows all is a winning strategy mystifies me.
@SC_Birdflyte: This is kind of my point: why help them with that narrative?
@Dude Kembro: What the bloody hell does “boomers” have to do with this subject? The only thing dumber than the empty concept of named generations is fools using it as sneer.
@Lounsbury: OK Boomer. Hopefully you’ll be able to pick up the pieces of your shattered life and move on. ::rolls eyes even harder::
Never seen a comments section with more Victorian women in it. Best part is, same people who howl about being called “Boomer” (which is ahout mindset, not age) and who are aghast at the Lincoln Project today (O! the horror) just spent two weeks lecturing us last week about how critics Dave Chappelle’s queerphobia are freespeech-hating outragemongers who need to chillout. Make it make sense.
No bigger hypocrites in politics than aging men who push or cater to right wing narratives. They are the only ones who get to troll, the only ones who ever have legitimate reasons to be offended. The rest of us have to shut up and bend to their fragile egos.
@Steven L. Taylor: Unlike you, I see history repeating itself. Come out of your ivory tower and walk the streets. Nothing more foolish than a “woke” military man.
@John430: Nothing more foolish than the ivory tower white establishment stealing black youth street slang like “woke,” bastardizing it, and trying to turn into a pejorative.
Can’t white people come up with their own culture to destroy?
Leverage toward what??? Other than re-election, what does he need leverage for? He has plenty of leverage as a tie-breaking vote on the side of sanity, should he choose to use it.
Sigh… let’s once again unpack a D’Souza level understanding of history
Hmmm, what happens to those number when you control for the South?! It’s far more correct to say that Southern Politicians, regardless of party, opposed the act with great vehemence (and in the case of the voting rights act, continue to).
As I often reproduce, here’s the breakdown from Wikipedia of the votes:
Again, opposition to the act was clearly regional versus political (in some respects it’s amazing that it did get *one* vote from any Southern politicians).
And you are right that members of both parties outside of the South overwhemingly supported the bills. That said, a higher percentage of Northern Repulicans opposed the measure (though some of them might have done so for ideological rather than racial reasons). Further, you seem to leave out how the Republicans welcomed a number of those Anti-Civil Rights “Democrats” like Strom Thurmond with open arms when they switched parties and the Republicans took the South (and then, like their past Democratic colleagues) continued to oppose Civil Rights legislation as a region.
Funny you leave that out…
And as for:
Again, this isn’t quite accurate. It’s true that in 1964 while locked in a Senate race with a Republican opponent who opposed the Civil Rights Act, Gore Sr. did vote against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Gore voted in favor of the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960, and 1968, as well as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the confirmation of Thurgood Marshall to the U.S. Supreme Court He also rejected the Southern Manifesto.
Oh, and yes, he was in part attacked in the 1970 election for his stance on Civil Rights as part of Nixon’s Southern Strategy.
But other than that you got all of that right. And also kudos for having to go back nearly 60 years to prove your point! And conveniently jumping over Southern Republican paragons of racial virtue like Jesse Helms and David Duke. Oh, not to mention the entire Southern Strategy, which was more recent than any of your examples.
Note that none of the above should be taken to suggest that Democrats don’t have their own problematic history with Race and Racism. That said, since at least the 1960’s and onward, they have had a significantly better history with the topic (though still nowhere good enough) than the opposition.