Although Hillary Clinton has yet to make anything close to an official announcement of her plans for 2016 beyond the typical, ambiguous statements any candidate must make this early, she seems to be running away with the election without uttering a word.
She consistently leads other Democrats, including Vice President Joe Biden, by 40 points or more in primary polls; she leads every Republican in 2016 head-to-head match-ups; she consistently has one of the highest approval ratings of any national leader in the country; and a super PAC called “Ready for Hillary” (with which she’s not connected) raised a whopping $1 million in June, nearly 18 months before candidates are expected to begin formally announcing.
Republicans have a reason to be angry. The march to “President Hillary Clinton” has a growing air of inevitability, so much so that conservative Myra Adams wrote a snarling piece on why she believes Clinton will be elected, much to Adams’ dismay.
The concern has degraded into desperation. GOP leaders are now claiming Clinton is simply too old, which is the political equivalent of finally putting up a sign on your treehouse stating “Girls Not Allowed,” especially since Romney is a year older, McCain was 72 when he ran as the Republican nominee in 2008, and Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of conservatives, entered the Oval Office a few weeks shy of his 70th birthday.
So, what do you do when an uppity woman doesn’t know her place? You slap her, of course.
On Monday, The Hillary Project — which describes itself as a “non-profit, non-partisan, advocacy committee” dedicated to preventing a Hillary presidency — began spamming reporters on Twitter with a link to a game in which visitors are encouraged to “slap Hillary” with the option of doing so after you a click a button that gives a prerecorded, vaguely-controversial sound bite from her long career in the public eye.
For starters, the group is not “non-partisan” — the only name attached to its FEC filing is Christopher Marston, a “campaign finance compliance consultant” with North Rock Reports and Election CFO, LLC. He also held a number of appointments in the Bush administration and before that, various positions with Republican lawmakers in House. In 2011, he tried his own hand at running for office, and was soundly defeated by more than 30% for Clerk of Circuit Court in Alexandria, Va.
As Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed reported, although the game was presented as “Created and produced by The SlapHillary Team,” it was actually created by producer and animator Marie Poe in 2000.
All of this, of course, pales in concern to the image of a woman being slapped around after she says something you find irritating, especially since it was only in February that 22 senators and 138 representatives (all Republicans) voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act on the grounds that it protects gays, Native Americans living in reservations, and undocumented immigrants.
There are online games or apps in the past that have allowed users to box their least favorite candidate and some that similarly permit the user to slap around notable male politicians, but the crucial difference here is that none of these have been produced by political action committees created by Republican (or Democratic) operatives, consultants, or lawmakers.
Domestic violence, less known as Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), affects 1 in 4 women in her lifetime. 85% of victims of IPV are women, reflecting a greater cultural problem at play, like communicating that it’s fine to beat women who do or say something you don’t like through violent jokes.
Or even flash games gleefully sent out to reporters by political operatives tone deaf to how it reflects on a Republican Party that hasn’t had the best few years on record in reaching out to women voters or simply demonstrating a baseline empathy for issues important to them, like domestic violence, which at least one study done by the Center for the Advancement of Women indicated 92% of women consider their top priority.
As of Tuesday evening, despite the wider world of political journalism now knowing of the new tactic, no Republican leader has denounced the game, which leads one to believe they’re testing the waters to see how it pans out with the public.
So, if you are a woman journalist, be careful when approaching Republican lawmakers and their staff on the issue, since it seems to be a roll of the dice how they’ll react to their strategy being questioned.