|What Conservatives Really Think About Community, Mr. Dionne||A Pre-revolutionary Situation|
by Christopher Chantrill
June 06, 2012 at 12:00 am
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.
[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.
[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, quoted in MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050.
Civil Societya complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churchesbuilds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust
[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 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
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
Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008
As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable...
[1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006
No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.
Lord Salisbury, Letter to Lord Lytton
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
In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, The Scientist as Rebel