August 11, 2009

Rules for Conservatives

Hatched by Dave Ross

Early on in the classic biographical film Patton, the title character, played by George C. Scott, watches through binoculars as his forces rout the Afrika Korps, commanded by “the Desert Fox,” Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. As the Germans retreat, Patton exults, “Rommel, you magnificent bastard! I read your book!”

It is obvious from the intensity of the reaction by ordinary constituents to the health care plan Congress is debating (and Democrats are pushing), that the “right” has been reading the book on which the left has based its tactics for decades. They are skillfully using the tactics recommended by the book, and the left is crying “foul!”

The book is called Rules For Radicals, by Saul D. Alinsky; it is for “community organizers” what Niccolò Machiavelli’s the Prince was for power-seekers.

Alinsky and Machiavelli have a lot in common. Here are a few of Alinsky’s precepts: “In war the end justifies almost any means;” “Concern with ethics increases with the number of means available and vice versa;” and “You do what you can with what you have and clothe it with moral garments.”

Now that I think of it, Alinsky made Machievelli look like an innocent, cherub-faced boy by comparison.

But! The most telling comment Alinksy made that relates to our current situation -- in which Speaker Pelosi calls ordinary citizens who flood town hall meetings, hoisting AARP representatives by their own petards and rocking the likes of Steny Hoyer back on their haunches, “Un-American” and “mobs” -- is this: “Any effective means is automatically judged by the opposition as being unethical.”

No one is supposed to use their tactics, you see. They are patented. Only the Left is allowed to characterize those who disagree with them as Nazis, as it did consistently during the eight years of the Bush White House, and before that during Bush I and Reagan and Nixon and… Only the Left is allowed to attend meetings and shout down speakers without allowing them to speak; that’s called freedom of speech when practiced by them -- but Brownshirt tactics if practiced by others.

Speaking of Brownshirts, they were the uniformed thugs of the 1920s and 1930s in Germany who used to beat up people they disdained... which is just what happened to Kenneth Gladney, a black man handing out “Don’t tread on me” flags at a Missouri town meeting last week. Gladney was beaten by public-union thugs. Is he a “mob” member, or is the real mob the SEIU enforcers who put him in a wheel chair?

The White House put out three, count them, three appeals last week for supporters to start attending with enough numbers to overawe the opposition at “town hall” meetings held all over America during the August congressional recess. This from the master “community organizer” himself.

As I wrote this post I got an email from a left-wing community organizer responding to Obama’s call: “Republicans, insurance industry, and Tea Party agitators are disrupting proceedings in Democratic Town Hall meetings across the nation. The police even had to be called to one meeting over the weekend. GOP stooges are stooping to new lows in an effort to drown out debate on universal health care coverage.”

No, it’s not an attempt to drown out the debate. It’s a successful effort to put as many, if not more, boots on the ground (as our military friends say) as the lefties. The conservatives have learned how to use the internet, email and Twitter to organize, as Obama’s supporters did last year.

By the way, please don’t assume that I approve of tactics such as shouting down people at meetings; I think it’s reprehensible. I applaud opponents who can debate in a collegial atmosphere. However, I see the frustration of ordinary citizens whose congressmen treat them with condescension and disdain.

Discouraging tactics such as shouting down people you disagree with is like using poison gas in wartime. It only works if both sides refuse to use it. As long as the Left feels that it’s fair for it to disrupt meetings and shout down speakers, conservatives are going to do the same.

The one thing I won't do is shed tears about the breakdown of civil debate: That died years ago. The truth is that the Right is finally learning how to play hardball.

Hatched by Dave Ross on this day, August 11, 2009, at the time of 8:34 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Da Coyote

Superb. Your last three sentences fully define what's gonna happen in the future. I'm not being nice any more.

The above hissed in response by: Da Coyote [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 12, 2009 6:26 AM

The following hissed in response by: Geoman

I think most of the people disrupting meetings are not professional protesters, agitators, or have read Saul Alinsky.

The. People. Are. Pissed.

People are already in a bad mood about the economy, housing, wars, retirement savings, bank bailouts, car companies, etc. etc. Obama's solution to various world crises? The new secret weapon, the Obama Apology Bomb.

But hey, let's talk health care! And let's leave the Republicans out of the conversation, and tort reform is off the table. And let's ram it through before anyone can read the bills.

Look, I hoped for the best. Obama is telegenic, young, gives decent enough speeches. First black president. Yet everything he has done since coming into office has been an utter disaster. It is coming as a sudden shock to a lot of people. And they are very angry at being duped.

I'll go ahead and say it. So far, the worst president in my lifetime. Period. A disaster on so many levels it makes my brain hurt. He flat out has not the slightest idea what he is doing, and does not appear to have the skills or inclination to improve.

The above hissed in response by: Geoman [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 12, 2009 10:04 AM

The following hissed in response by: BigLeeH

I may find myself on the other side of this one. I still remember how alienated I felt when the populist immigration-hawks tried to define 'true' conservatism based on a shared animus which all true conservatives must feel. I found I just wasn't angry enough to measure up. The idea of a stream of 'illegals' coming into the country and stealing the jobs of unskilled American laborers didn't make my blood boil and I felt a bit unwelcome in the big, Republican tent. I had the sense of a sign with an arrow I couldn't quire reach that said "You must be THIS angry to go on this ride."

Don't get me wrong. I yield to no one in my disapproval of the Democrat's proposed health plan or in my worries for what it would do to the country. But if we define ourselves based on our emotions, our anger or our fears, or if we allow ourselves to be defined that was in the media, then we miss an opportunity to talk about the ideas and principles on which our objections and our concerns are based.

I think that conservatives who try to steal a page from the playbook of the left are a bit like eggs who hit on the brilliant plan to take control of the eggbeater. Childish, polarizing rhetoric works for them in ways it never will for us. We need to be in a position to appeal to the grownups in the room. If that mean reigning ourselves in a bit, that is the awful price we pay for being conservatives.

The above hissed in response by: BigLeeH [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 12, 2009 1:10 PM

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