Michele Obama said this week, "When they go low, we go high", but that response has not always been successful.
Roger Ailes probably has had more to do with reshaping the Amercan competitive political landscape than anyone else over the past 50 years. He worked for Richard Nixon. In 1972 Ed Muskie at first seemed like a formidable opponent to then President Nixon who was up for reelection as the Vietnam war and anti-war sentiment and battles over societal changes continued to tear at the nation. Muskie was seen as uniquely qualified as a U.S. Senator who also had executive experience as Governor of Maine. Muskie's downfall in the primaries came when he was viewed as weak and purportedly crying during a stump speech defending his wife's reputation which had been dragged into the campaign and denouncing an accusatory letter in a NH newspaper. Both incidents turned out later to be part of an orchestrated campaign of dirty tricks of the Nixon White House.
Among the dirty tricks was the Watergate "break-in". Of course, burglary is a crime, but the White House act of bugging the telephone of the head of the Democratic National Committee to obtain the contents of phone calls went far beyond the usual campaign tactics of 1972. Although that effort at intelligence collection came up short, the apparent Russian government/Wikileaks alliance to collect and distribute the DNC emails timed for maximum impact has been a great success as a distraction from the Democratic Convention.
The Trump playbook is very different. Best described as a sufferer of a narcissistic personality disorder, he is always ready to go on the offensive. Attack, attack, attack. Deny, deflect, accuse, distract, not necessarily in that order. It comes naturally to him and helps distract from his lack of qualification for the office. The accusations are not limited to political opponents. In the midst of a press conference, he will accuse reporters of favoring his opponent as a technique to distract and get them off their game. More in the next post.