What RedState and Abraham Lincoln have in common
War is an ugly thing.
After years of looking to fine gentleman generals – men with only one flaw: that they repeatedly lost battle after battle – President Lincoln found Ulysses S. Grant. Grant was in some ways less than a perfect gentleman. He seemed focused on just one thing: winning. "The art of war is simple enough," Grant had said. "Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on."
Was it really that simple? Not to many educated gentlemen. And some such "gentlemen of the press" thought it their duty to say so. "He is a drunkard!" they wrote – not entirely inaccurately. Others focused their columns on the losses among Grant's own troops, which seemed inordinately high. Others wrote endlessly of the pain of families they knew who had lost loved ones fighting in Grant's endless bloody battles and, some said, pursuit of his own personal glory.
President Lincoln thought otherwise. Any or even all of those "facts" might be true, but he had finally found someone who took the war to the enemy and, yes, won.
The publications of the period found themselves in a hard place. How should they editorially balance the basic values they had long stood for against such things as protecting troop morale? What were they to do with writers who themselves were friends and gentlemen but who simply could not, or would not, get fully behind the winning general? One who had finally rallied the troops and raised the hopes of a people long worn down by hopelessness and defeat?
Tough questions, these.
So it is today. Where does the balance stand between old ideals and the new situation? How important is reporting the full truth about a general, including his personal failings and weaknesses, in comparison to protecting the morale of the troops and that of the citizenry, to keeping the finally achieved momentum toward victory moving forward?
Such a choice was seemingly faced by the publishers of RedState – and they apparently chose to stick with the general, letting go numerous respected writers who simply, for whatever reason – maybe even and simple love of "truth" and "principle" – refused to "get on board."
Yes, war is an ugly, ugly thing.