Smashing the Tyranny of the Democrats' Clichés
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. That's why Plato had bad-boy Alcibiades in The Symposium praise Socrates as brave and fearless. It's all very well to be able to turn a good argument, but a real man keeps his cool even during the retreat from Delium. It's probably no accident that Bernard Cornwell started his Sharpe's 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 who are already forming a head of rebellion against his war on business.
That's not how it is supposed to work. According to Jonah Goldberg's Tyranny of Clichés:
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 who don't 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 aren't 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.
Here's 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. There's a measure on the ballot today 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 who 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 Axelrod's Boston parade, the Romney campaign is getting inside the Obama campaign's OODA Loop. That's 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 he's 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 ain't seen nothing yet."
Christopher Chantrill 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.