2012: The Art of Intimidation
What a joy it was to watch the Romney campaign executing on the Hilary Rosen flap, launching Ann Romney on Twitter in a heartbeat. And then the Romney war room followed up with the dog-meat play. Liberals thought that the dog-on-the-roof scandal had legs. But it turned out that the legs were Indonesian roast pooch.
Of course, as Bill Kristol insists, the candidate himself needs to be presidential and stick to Big Think presidential speeches about Big Issues. That's especially important in 2012 because the community-organizer-in-chief has left the role of national uniter up for grabs while he shamelessly descends into the gutter, dividing the nation up into the Balkan States of America. Let the president be shrill; let him be petty, writes Bill.
Romney can give serious speeches about the Constitution and the Supreme Court, the case for limited government and the threat of bankruptcy and penury, about undoing Obamacare and what will replace it.
But let's not get too good-government about this. Government is force, and politics is intimidation. While every campaign needs a great candidate who rises above it all, campaigns are won mostly in the trenches by the side that doesn't give up first. That's where intimidation comes in. You need your troops to see the opposition taking hits.
The name of the game in political intimidation is to delegitimize the agenda of the other side and shut them up. The last national Republican who knew how to play the intimidation game was Ronald Reagan. Liberals tried to intimidate him and read him out of the mainstream as a mad bomber and an extremist, but they never quite pulled it off. Once Reagan had got liberals on the floor, he never let them back in the game. George W. Bush, bless his heart, tried to appease the liberals by running as a "compassionate conservative." That worked about as well as "hope and change."
Today, the task of conservatives is to toughen up and figure out how to intimidate the liberals defending what they believe to be the impregnable fortresses of Race, Class War, and Gender Gap. The job of the Romneys is to find the weak spots in the walls and then start the demolition.
Only when these liberal fortresses have been reduced can America resume its journey to the Promised Land.
The liberal fortresses are a lot more vulnerable to attack than liberals believe, for liberals have been on the attack for the last decade and haven't really thought much about defense. They imagined in 2008, after eight years of Bush stupidity, that their policies would deliver them a permanent Democratic majority. In other words, they believed their own propaganda.
But suppose that the Romney team decided to exploit its tactical victories on moms and dogs. Suppose they went for the big play and decided to end decades of liberal intimidation on race and class?
There is a big opening on race. For half a century, white America has hoped that one day, perhaps the day that America declared itself ready for a black president, they would gratefully receive racial absolution. But we now know that that isn't going to happen. So maybe we are getting close to a Rhett Butler moment, when Rhett tells Scarlett O'bama: frankly my dear, I don't give a damn. That will be the day that the race hustle hits the wall.
On the welfare state, the liberals have two ways of intimidating reformers. One is the "mean-spirited" argument -- that any cuts are made "on the backs of the poor." The other method is the threat of civil disorder. One day conservatives will simply respond like Dirty Harry: make my day.
Turning the tables means putting the liberals on the moral defensive. On race, the liberals have not just tolerated, but encouraged moral monsters like Reverends Jackson, Sharpton, and Wright. On class, liberals have demolished the authentic working-class culture, as the robber barons failed to do, and they have demolished the black community, as the slaveholders failed to do. We are not talking about just hypocrisy; we are talking about a betrayal of everything liberals said they believed on race and the poor. In the 1930s liberals stood on the picket lines with working stiffs. In the 1960s liberals gave their lives for civil rights. Today well-paid liberals make money -- big money -- out of urban pathologies, ruthlessly profiting from the sufferings of the poor. This must not stand.
Maybe it's asking too much to expect the Romney people to turn around the intimidation game all in one year. But someone has to make a start, because in politics, if your people aren't out intimidating the opposition, then the opposition's people are intimidating you.
Christopher Chantrill (mailto:email@example.com) is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his usgovernmentspending.com and also usgovernmentdebt.us. At americanmanifesto.org he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism.