The War Plan for 2012

"It's good for Obama in 2012." That's what we've been hearing from media commentators concerning his well-earned electoral thrashing. The retiring Democrat panjandrum Evan Bayh is only the latest to express this as the inevitable result of this week's bloodbath. (Which explains why he's retiring two years early.) Let the GOP get in, watch them screw things up, and Obama will be a shoo-in for 2012.

This, of course, is stark wishful thinking, born out of the belief that 2010 is merely normal politics and then some. It is no such thing. It is not a setback; it is not a disaster. It is a cataclysm. Looking beyond D.C., Republicans now control thirty statehouses and a majority of state legislatures. For perhaps the first time since the 19th century, most of the country's legislators are now Republican. It's not simply that the game has changed, but that the goalposts have been moved and the stadium opened up and extended in all directions.

But the thing is, the Dems do have a recent historical example to fall back on, that of Bill Clinton. Big Bill had a disastrous first two years as president -- the product of laziness, arrogance, and overreaching. His major effort, the health care plan known as HillaryCare, never even got a vote before collapsing. (He must pause today in quiet moments and thank God it didn't go to a vote.) The Republican 1994 wave added to his humiliation, leaving him to whine that the Constitution guaranteed that he was "relevant."

But Bill had certain negative virtues: while no blazing intellectual ball of fire (does anyone remember the former Arkansas AG asking Hillary, "What's the court of last resort for the states?"), he had a native cleverness and was quick to learn. Above all, he was not an egomaniac. An egotist, yes -- no politician is anything else. But it was not pathological in Clinton's case, as it manifestly is with Obama. Clinton was willing to admit to mistakes, to listen, and to change his mind. That saved him from absolute failure.

He was also lucky in his enemies. Newt Gingrich is an egomaniac, as his constant playing for attention makes all too clear. (Particularly his perennial announcements that he's "considering" running for president. No less likely candidate -- and I include Alvin Greene and Lady Gaga -- exists. Yet still he keeps it up.) Gingrich took the 1994 results as personal validation and immediately invaded Russia, challenging Clinton by "closing down the government" over budget issues. He was forced to climb down from the ramparts in the midst of media-inspired public disapproval. His career from that point on was a series of pratfalls that made even Clinton -- cheeseburgers, interns, and all -- look like a figure of stature by comparison. It ended with a public tantrum over being told to use the rear entrance to Air Force One while flying to Yitzak Rabin's funeral in Israel -- a flight that Gingrich shouldn't have been on in the first place.

Things have changed in the years since. Terror attacks and a depression have swept away a lot of frivolity. The media has been toppled from its throne and no longer calls the shots. The Tea Parties have added a new and healthy element to the political equation. Obama has none of Clinton's personal charm, wiliness, or political sense.

Still, there are lessons to be learned from the 1995 confrontation in hopes of not pulling a Gingrich. In 2010, we have been given a second chance. History will not continue offering renewed opportunities for reform for us to throw away. Eventually the dice will be jerked out of our hands and tossed in any offhand direction, and there is no guarantee that we will like the results. This is the time to make things count. Bismarck may well have been right in saying that "God looks after drunks, children, and the United States of America," but it's best if we make some effort to look out for ourselves.

In that spirit, I'd like to offer not so much a program as some of the qualities and features that a program to preserve and extend conservative influence should have.

  • No showdowns -- Gingrich appears to have been motivated by a yearning to prove himself tougher than Clinton. This is foolish on all kinds of levels. First, you don't mix the personal with the political. Second, in the words of Sun Tzu Tse: "The height of mastery is not to win every battle. The height of mastery is not to fight at all." For the next two years, the fight against Obama must take the form of guerrilla warfare. He must be outmaneuvered, tormented, and tricked. His bills should be weighed down with amendments until they are unpassable. His programs should be defunded. His own people -- particularly congressional Democrats -- should be turned against him. Anyone as self-deluded as Obama is easy prey. We just need to find the weak spots.
  • Let the major campaigns wait until 2012 -- Many of the incoming GOP freshmen are special interest candidates with favored agendas. I have a nightmare that Rand Paul will call for a constitutional convention as first order of business. But Aqua Buddha says no. All the special campaigns, no matter how desirable, must wait. As Mitch McConnell said, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." If an old warhorse like McConnell realizes this, there's no excuse for anyone else. The major struggle at this point is to shut down Obama and his machine. If we fail at that, nothing else matters.
  • Give Obama nothing -- Though we have heard very little of it up until now, various old elephants will soon begin squeaking about "working with the White House to get things done." Forget it -- we don't want things done. Slow, hard, and tough must be the rule from here on in. Make Obama and his party fight for every last crumb. The more work they have to put in, the less nonsense they will be able to pull.
  • Do not let the pressure up -- "It's all Bush's fault" has been a standard refrain for Obama for two years now. This must be turned around. Blaming Obama will work (as the Bush canard obviously has not) because Obama is still in office and remains a target. We must not allow a cat to get stuck in a tree without pointing the finger at Obama. With his propensity to dive in whether it has anything to do with him or not, he'll take it from there.
  • Allow Obama no credit -- For two years and longer we have heard more unjustified praise of Obama than of any leader since Stalin. (Before the election, I had to listen to several imbeciles of my acquaintance going on about how he'd "stopped the airliner bombs." Yeah, in his secret identity as Capt. Ahmed Mohammed of the Dubai Customs Police.) Turnabout is fair play. If he does accomplish anything in the next two years -- quite a stretch of the imagination, I know -- it should simply be slapped aside. I suggest "Bush did it first." A man awarded a Nobel for nothing really deserves to be taken down a notch or two.
  • Scandals can be fun. For decades, the Dems have amused themselves by concocting bogus scandals involving GOP leaders (see Delay, Tom) while at the same time taking payoffs, flying cross-country on the government dime, operating male brothels, and, for all I know, selling the keys to the International Space Station to the Martians. It is time for serious payback. Maxine Waters, Charley Rangel, Christopher Dodd, and Barney Frank are only the most prominent of those awaiting their turns onstage. Eric Holder has earned a spanking over the Black Panther case and probably much else as well. (Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, who plans to spotlight the department's harassment of CIA anti-terror operatives, has the right idea here.) A large number of extralegal acts have been carried out by the Obama administration, from illegally appointing "czars" to interfering in the GM bankruptcy. All of them require close attention. We must see that they get it.
(The Dems are well aware of this and are already moving to contain it through their media allies. Note Chris Matthews' attempt to characterize such investigations as 1950s witch-hunts.)

I can hear the moderates protesting now: but we need to work together. We're in the middle of a depression. We're fighting a war on terror. We must have respect for the office of president. The Kenyan leopard demons will be very angry. We've heard all those excuses, and we'll hear more -- nobody is better at coming up with high-sounding reasons for wiggling out of tough but necessary actions than a Republican. The GOP tends to be too civilized and magnanimous for politics as it's practiced in this century. I'm hoping that the Tea Parties will produce a few real savages to thoroughly shake the place up. (I'm Irish -- I view that kind of thing as sport.)

Obama's economic programs have both deepened and broadened the depression. His antiterrorism "policy" relies more on General Dumb Luck than any other factor, and will break down completely more sooner than later. The "dignity of office" argument is being made on behalf of a man who habitually attacks his predecessor in the most vicious terms; save it for Hallmark cards. Barack Obama's policies have done more to damage to this country than the efforts of its deadliest enemies (and I include the leopard demons here). Simply shutting down those policies would be a heroic act, quite apart from the fact that there is no downside to opposing them. Whatever it takes -- the voters have spoken, and they expect action.

Lastly, we must maintain and strengthen the bonds between the GOP and the Tea Parties. Their fates are now intertwined, whether purists in both camps like it or not. The 2012 election will be as great a struggle as this one; our alliances must be firm, our resources lined up. We need to learn the lessons of 2010 -- on one side, the truth that the TPs are in no way the throwbacks portrayed in the media, with rifle in one hand and Glenn Beck DVD in the other, and on the other side, the fact that traditional conservatives are not the enemy, and that figures such as Karl Rove have much to offer. Put these two forces together, and they will be unbeatable.

We are off to a good start. Who could have imagined this state of affairs in the fall of 2008? The road continues upward, and we grow stronger as we go on. As the man said, "Keep on believing."

J.R. Dunn is consulting editor of American Thinker and will edit the forthcoming Military Thinker.
"It's good for Obama in 2012." That's what we've been hearing from media commentators concerning his well-earned electoral thrashing. The retiring Democrat panjandrum Evan Bayh is only the latest to express this as the inevitable result of this week's bloodbath. (Which explains why he's retiring two years early.) Let the GOP get in, watch them screw things up, and Obama will be a shoo-in for 2012.

This, of course, is stark wishful thinking, born out of the belief that 2010 is merely normal politics and then some. It is no such thing. It is not a setback; it is not a disaster. It is a cataclysm. Looking beyond D.C., Republicans now control thirty statehouses and a majority of state legislatures. For perhaps the first time since the 19th century, most of the country's legislators are now Republican. It's not simply that the game has changed, but that the goalposts have been moved and the stadium opened up and extended in all directions.

But the thing is, the Dems do have a recent historical example to fall back on, that of Bill Clinton. Big Bill had a disastrous first two years as president -- the product of laziness, arrogance, and overreaching. His major effort, the health care plan known as HillaryCare, never even got a vote before collapsing. (He must pause today in quiet moments and thank God it didn't go to a vote.) The Republican 1994 wave added to his humiliation, leaving him to whine that the Constitution guaranteed that he was "relevant."

But Bill had certain negative virtues: while no blazing intellectual ball of fire (does anyone remember the former Arkansas AG asking Hillary, "What's the court of last resort for the states?"), he had a native cleverness and was quick to learn. Above all, he was not an egomaniac. An egotist, yes -- no politician is anything else. But it was not pathological in Clinton's case, as it manifestly is with Obama. Clinton was willing to admit to mistakes, to listen, and to change his mind. That saved him from absolute failure.

He was also lucky in his enemies. Newt Gingrich is an egomaniac, as his constant playing for attention makes all too clear. (Particularly his perennial announcements that he's "considering" running for president. No less likely candidate -- and I include Alvin Greene and Lady Gaga -- exists. Yet still he keeps it up.) Gingrich took the 1994 results as personal validation and immediately invaded Russia, challenging Clinton by "closing down the government" over budget issues. He was forced to climb down from the ramparts in the midst of media-inspired public disapproval. His career from that point on was a series of pratfalls that made even Clinton -- cheeseburgers, interns, and all -- look like a figure of stature by comparison. It ended with a public tantrum over being told to use the rear entrance to Air Force One while flying to Yitzak Rabin's funeral in Israel -- a flight that Gingrich shouldn't have been on in the first place.

Things have changed in the years since. Terror attacks and a depression have swept away a lot of frivolity. The media has been toppled from its throne and no longer calls the shots. The Tea Parties have added a new and healthy element to the political equation. Obama has none of Clinton's personal charm, wiliness, or political sense.

Still, there are lessons to be learned from the 1995 confrontation in hopes of not pulling a Gingrich. In 2010, we have been given a second chance. History will not continue offering renewed opportunities for reform for us to throw away. Eventually the dice will be jerked out of our hands and tossed in any offhand direction, and there is no guarantee that we will like the results. This is the time to make things count. Bismarck may well have been right in saying that "God looks after drunks, children, and the United States of America," but it's best if we make some effort to look out for ourselves.

In that spirit, I'd like to offer not so much a program as some of the qualities and features that a program to preserve and extend conservative influence should have.

  • No showdowns -- Gingrich appears to have been motivated by a yearning to prove himself tougher than Clinton. This is foolish on all kinds of levels. First, you don't mix the personal with the political. Second, in the words of Sun Tzu Tse: "The height of mastery is not to win every battle. The height of mastery is not to fight at all." For the next two years, the fight against Obama must take the form of guerrilla warfare. He must be outmaneuvered, tormented, and tricked. His bills should be weighed down with amendments until they are unpassable. His programs should be defunded. His own people -- particularly congressional Democrats -- should be turned against him. Anyone as self-deluded as Obama is easy prey. We just need to find the weak spots.
  • Let the major campaigns wait until 2012 -- Many of the incoming GOP freshmen are special interest candidates with favored agendas. I have a nightmare that Rand Paul will call for a constitutional convention as first order of business. But Aqua Buddha says no. All the special campaigns, no matter how desirable, must wait. As Mitch McConnell said, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." If an old warhorse like McConnell realizes this, there's no excuse for anyone else. The major struggle at this point is to shut down Obama and his machine. If we fail at that, nothing else matters.
  • Give Obama nothing -- Though we have heard very little of it up until now, various old elephants will soon begin squeaking about "working with the White House to get things done." Forget it -- we don't want things done. Slow, hard, and tough must be the rule from here on in. Make Obama and his party fight for every last crumb. The more work they have to put in, the less nonsense they will be able to pull.
  • Do not let the pressure up -- "It's all Bush's fault" has been a standard refrain for Obama for two years now. This must be turned around. Blaming Obama will work (as the Bush canard obviously has not) because Obama is still in office and remains a target. We must not allow a cat to get stuck in a tree without pointing the finger at Obama. With his propensity to dive in whether it has anything to do with him or not, he'll take it from there.
  • Allow Obama no credit -- For two years and longer we have heard more unjustified praise of Obama than of any leader since Stalin. (Before the election, I had to listen to several imbeciles of my acquaintance going on about how he'd "stopped the airliner bombs." Yeah, in his secret identity as Capt. Ahmed Mohammed of the Dubai Customs Police.) Turnabout is fair play. If he does accomplish anything in the next two years -- quite a stretch of the imagination, I know -- it should simply be slapped aside. I suggest "Bush did it first." A man awarded a Nobel for nothing really deserves to be taken down a notch or two.
  • Scandals can be fun. For decades, the Dems have amused themselves by concocting bogus scandals involving GOP leaders (see Delay, Tom) while at the same time taking payoffs, flying cross-country on the government dime, operating male brothels, and, for all I know, selling the keys to the International Space Station to the Martians. It is time for serious payback. Maxine Waters, Charley Rangel, Christopher Dodd, and Barney Frank are only the most prominent of those awaiting their turns onstage. Eric Holder has earned a spanking over the Black Panther case and probably much else as well. (Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, who plans to spotlight the department's harassment of CIA anti-terror operatives, has the right idea here.) A large number of extralegal acts have been carried out by the Obama administration, from illegally appointing "czars" to interfering in the GM bankruptcy. All of them require close attention. We must see that they get it.
(The Dems are well aware of this and are already moving to contain it through their media allies. Note Chris Matthews' attempt to characterize such investigations as 1950s witch-hunts.)

I can hear the moderates protesting now: but we need to work together. We're in the middle of a depression. We're fighting a war on terror. We must have respect for the office of president. The Kenyan leopard demons will be very angry. We've heard all those excuses, and we'll hear more -- nobody is better at coming up with high-sounding reasons for wiggling out of tough but necessary actions than a Republican. The GOP tends to be too civilized and magnanimous for politics as it's practiced in this century. I'm hoping that the Tea Parties will produce a few real savages to thoroughly shake the place up. (I'm Irish -- I view that kind of thing as sport.)

Obama's economic programs have both deepened and broadened the depression. His antiterrorism "policy" relies more on General Dumb Luck than any other factor, and will break down completely more sooner than later. The "dignity of office" argument is being made on behalf of a man who habitually attacks his predecessor in the most vicious terms; save it for Hallmark cards. Barack Obama's policies have done more to damage to this country than the efforts of its deadliest enemies (and I include the leopard demons here). Simply shutting down those policies would be a heroic act, quite apart from the fact that there is no downside to opposing them. Whatever it takes -- the voters have spoken, and they expect action.

Lastly, we must maintain and strengthen the bonds between the GOP and the Tea Parties. Their fates are now intertwined, whether purists in both camps like it or not. The 2012 election will be as great a struggle as this one; our alliances must be firm, our resources lined up. We need to learn the lessons of 2010 -- on one side, the truth that the TPs are in no way the throwbacks portrayed in the media, with rifle in one hand and Glenn Beck DVD in the other, and on the other side, the fact that traditional conservatives are not the enemy, and that figures such as Karl Rove have much to offer. Put these two forces together, and they will be unbeatable.

We are off to a good start. Who could have imagined this state of affairs in the fall of 2008? The road continues upward, and we grow stronger as we go on. As the man said, "Keep on believing."

J.R. Dunn is consulting editor of American Thinker and will edit the forthcoming Military Thinker.

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