|What Conservatives Really Think About Community, Mr. Dionne||A Pre-revolutionary Situation|
by Christopher Chantrill
June 05, 2012 at 6:00 pm
POLITICS IS civil war by other means. So when Mitt Romney showed up at Solyndra and the Romney HQ troops showed up to heckle David Axelrod last week, conservatives found themselves writing about the thrill up their legs. It really makes a difference when your leaders actually show up to fight.
The ancients knew that too. Thats why Plato had bad-boy Alcibiades in The Symposium praise Socrates as brave and fearless. Its all very well to be able to turn a good argument, but a real man keeps his cool even during the retreat from Delium. Its probably no accident that Bernard Cornwell started his Sharpes Rifles series with the epic British retreat to Corunna. There was no better way to introduce readers to Richard Sharpe than as a leader that kept his head in the chaos and turmoil of retreat.
We now know that in the next five months we will really get the measure of President Obama as a leader. He will need all the leadership qualities in the world, not just to fight Mitt Romney but to curb centrist Democrats like Cory Booker and Bill Clinton that are already forming a head of rebellion against his war on business.
Thats not how Jonah Goldbergs Tyranny of Clichés is supposed to work. According to Jonah,
Progressives lie to themselves and the world about this fact [that they are ideological]. They hide their ideological agenda within Trojan Horse clichés and smug assertions that they are simply pragmatists, fact-finders and empiricists who are clearheaded slaves to what works.
Or, to the vast majority that dont work around government, clichés are like a corporate culture. They are a way of thinking about ourselves and also the dreaded other. The main thing the clichés do is build our team spirit, to keep morale up with things arent going too well.
If Cory Booker and Bill Clinton breaking ranks on the cliché front, muddling the Democratic corporate culture, then the president may really have a problem.
Heres another straw in the wind, from The Wall Street Journal. It turns out that the people of San Jose, California, are not too happy with their policemen and firemen. Theres a measure on the June 5 ballot to make public safety employees pony up more for their generous pensions.
Firefighter Brian Endicott got an early taste of the pension battle brewing here when a man at the grocery store angrily pointed to the steaks in his cart.
Who do you think you are, wasting taxpayers money on a meal like this? the man yelled at 46-year-old Mr. Endicott, who was shopping for dinner with three other firefighters from San Jose Fire Station No. 1.
Then there are the people in San Jose that flip the bird when the fire truck goes by. What happened to all the good feelings about first responders after 9/11?
To top it off, Maureen Dowd is disappointed in her superhero.
This week, Hugh Hewitt suggested that with the Solyndra stand-up and the raining on David Axelrods Boston parade, the Romney campaign is getting inside the Obama campaigns OODA Loop. Thats a fancy term developed by the late John Boyd to symbolize the process of war. To win you need to think, plan, and act while your opponent is still putting his pants on. Here is campaign consultant Steve Schmidt on Romney in 2008:
I thought he was a very scary opponent looking from the other side of the table in that he was almost like a learning organism at the end, Schmidt said about the former Massachusetts governor. He just kept getting better week by week by week, and kept becoming stronger.
Suppose that all the weather forecasts of a stormy summer for Obama are accurate, and suppose that hes facing a perfect storm by August as Greece and maybe Spain go down the tubes. Then the question is whether Obama is as hardy and brave as Socrates. Is he the kind of man who can stand outside in all weathers, a man who will go back into the thick of battle to rescue a wounded comrade? Does he keep his head in the chaos of a retreat? You tell me.
Back in 1992 the Clinton campaign team taught us all about the war room and rapid reaction: the OODA Loop by another name. The Clintons went through many ups and downs in the next eight years, but they always figured out a way to outsmart their political opponents and cross the finish line first.
The Obama approach to politics seems to owe more to Saul Alinsky than John Boyd. But Saul Alinsky fought establishment figures that just stood there and let themselves be demolished by Rule 13: identify, isolate, freeze and escalate. What happens if your opponent refuses to freeze or be isolated?
Drudge properly ended up last week with a photo of President Obama over a headline HELL DAY. This week, he might want to haul out an old Reagan chestnut: you aint seen nothing yet.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
[T]he way to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,
Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop
discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District
[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values
Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization
What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph
These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self
There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion
The Union publishes an exact return of the amount of its taxes; I can get copies of the budgets of the four and twenty component states; but who can tell me what the citizens spend in the administration of county and township?
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America