With the announcement that Breitbart has officially merged with the Trump campaign, I thought it might be worth revisiting the Groundswell Gang, the group of right-wing operatives who had declared a "30-front war" on the Obama administration, headed up by Justice Clarence Thomas' wife, Ginni.
Where are they now, anyway? I went back to the transcript of the recorded meeting they had in May, 2013 to see where they've gone since they shut down their very public Google group and moved to more private quarters.
We need a General
After being trounced in 2012 and forming a strategy for Obama's second term, the group was at a loss. They had their soldiers, but no general. In their March 27, 2013 meeting minutes, they memorialized the problem.
"There needs to be a General, a real leader," they decided. "It is the grassroots who will be the ones to make a compelling case for change and new leadership."
They continued, "Immigration may be the issue that puts the grassroots over the edge because the immigration policy is being developed in a very elitist, quiet, secretive manner. The consequences of the immigration policy have huge ramifications."
Where are they now?
The May Groundswell meeting roll-call was a parade of right-wing stars. The vast right-wing conspiracy Hillary Clinton had once encouraged reporters to investigate was present and accounted for.
Here's a list from the transcript:
Catherine Engelbrecht, True the Vote
Ken Blackwell, American Family Association
Gen. Jerry Boykin, Family Research Council
Frank Gaffney, Center for Security Policy
Sebastian Gorka, Breitbart writer and "national security specialist"
John Bolton, Former U.N. ambassador, Bush administration
Dean Clancy, formerly of Freedomworks
Allen West, former Congressman, Fox News commentator, NRA Board member
J. Christian Adams, Attorney, Voting Rights "specialist"
John Fonte, Hudson Institute
Tom Fitton, President of Judicial Watch (The meeting was in their offices)
Anita Moncrief, True the Vote
Sandy Rios, Government Affairs Director, American Family Association
Steve Bannon, Breitbart News, now CEO of Donald Trump's campaign
Myron Ebell, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Director of Center for Energy and the Environment
Michael Flynn - Retired general, now National Security adviser for Trump
Diana Banister - Partner at Shirley & Bannister, a high-powered conservative public relations firm that came to power under Reagan.
Brian Baker - CEO of Ending Spending, a SuperPAC funded by former TDAmeritrade mogul Joe Ricketts.
Those were only the ones present at the meeting. There were many more involved with their 'messaging war,' including staffers from Jeff Sessions' office, and Rep. Bridenstine's office in the House of Representatives.
They've got their leader - Trump
Now they're all in for Trump. John Bolton, Frank Gaffney and Sebastian Gorka are acting as national security surrogates. Stephen Bannon is now Trump's campaign CEO. True the Vote is responsible for the "voters will cheat" theme now coming from Trump. Jeff Sessions is Trump's lead Senate surrogate. Tom Fitton is working overtime trying to flog the damn emails for everything it's worth in order to scrape together something -- anything -- that would smear Hillary Clinton.
Ginni Thomas stays quiet in public over at the Daily Caller, but her interviews are intended to benefit Trump and the far-right nativist hordes who have subsumed the Republican Party
All the players have taken the stage, and they have their leader - Donald Trump. All that's left is for us to bury them in a pile of votes for Hillary Clinton and all the downballot candidates. Crush the bigots under the weight of millions and millions of votes.
It might also be a good time for our media to revisit the decades-old "vast right-wing conspiracy" yet again. Had they chosen to investigate instead of ridicule Hillary Clinton back in the day, Trump might still be conning Trump University students instead of the last pockets of bigots in this country.
In the end, Republicans built this, Republicans own it, and they spent the last 4 years refining their technique. A look at the "Groundswell" tactics proves it.