“Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty.” — Thomas Jefferson
Let's talk about Republicans and 2012.
What does the NPR kerfuffle really mean in terms of the 2012 battle for the GOP presidential nomination?
Who is Patricia de Stacy Harrison? And what does her support of NPR really have to do with that 2012 fight?
Say what? Beyond the minor Shakespearean skirmish over National Public Radio ("to fund or not to fund, that is the question") what in the world does NPR have to do with the looming fight for the GOP presidential nomination? And what does it have to do with a GOP victory — whether in 2012, 2016 or for that matter, anytime? — A lot.
First, Ms. Harrison.
Jeffrey Lord writes in American Spectator; “Patricia de Stacy Harrison is the president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the "parent" of the public TV and radio siblings PBS and NPR. NPR, as the world knows, has been hard upon troubled times lately. First because of the firing of commentator Juan Williams. Then the mishandling of the firing of Juan Williams. This was followed in short order by the James O'Keefe Muslim-fundraising videotape and the abrupt departures of the un-related but seemingly identical thinking NPR Schillers, Ron and Vivian. As a result, the very liberal NPR has found itself targeted by conservatives for an end to its federal funding.”
“Enter Ms. Harrison, who has come quickly to NPR's defense.”
“Issuing a formal statement in her role as CPB president and CEO on the day the GOP-controlled House cut off NPR's funding, Harrison said in part that NPR decidedly was in need of "federal support" and that "rather than penalize public broadcasting, the debate should focus on strengthening and supporting this valuable national asset." At the end of her statement was an apparently standard description of CPB that said in its first sentence the organization is the "steward of the federal government's investment in public broadcasting."
“What makes this important is not that Harrison is the CPB President and CEO. No, what makes this plea for federal funding significant is that she is a former co-chair of the Republican National Committee and a Bush appointee to head the CPB.”
“In other words, as we head into the fight for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Patricia Harrison's stance on NPR signals that this is exactly the right time to begin understanding the very real philosophical differences among those in the Republican presidential field. Discerning -- not to put too fine a point on it — who among these would-be Republican presidents really and truly understand in their bones what the party of Lincoln (not to mention Reagan!!) is all about. Do they get what Republican Party founder Abraham Lincoln was talking about in, say, his famous debates with Stephen A. Douglas in 1858? When he said, for example, that the "real question" in politics was all too frequently obscured by "fog." That principle, cherished if almost never openly acknowledged by the left is, again according to Lincoln: "You work and toil and earn bread, and I'll eat it."
“In Liberty and Tyranny Mark Levin took the very title of his considerable bestseller from Lincoln saying this again years later — in 1864 — as president. Then, Lincoln summed up the point by saying that the difference between each man doing "as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor" — or not — is "called by two different and incompatible names — liberty and tyranny." Levin revitalizes an old and accurate term for those who would take the results of someone else's work and toil to satisfy what Levin calls their "endless rationalizations for seizing ever more governmental authority" in service of the "supremacy of the state."
“The term: Statists. Or, if you prefer, "neo-Statists." The latter Levin's Lincoln-like designation of "some who claim the mantle of conservatism but are, in truth, neo-Statists, who would have the Conservative abandon the high ground of the founding principles for the quicksand of a soft tyranny."
“As Ms. Harrison's statement on NPR — indeed her very presence at CPB itself — makes clear, those who believe in the supremacy of the state are not just running the Statist Obama Administration or plotting Statist strategy with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. They are inside the gates of the GOP itself.”
“Harrison, with her various compensations and vigorous defense of NPR — and for that matter the very existence of CPB, PBS, and NPR as tax-funded institutions — is the very embodiment of Lincoln's succinct summation of the attitude of elites towards working Americans in the private sector: "You work and toil and earn bread, and I'll eat it." It is the Americanized version of what Lincoln scorned as those choosing the "divine right of kings" over "the common right of humanity."
WHERE HAS THIS Conservative-Statist fight already shown itself with recent struggles inside the Republican Party? A party where everybody swears up and down so help them God, cross their hearts and hope to die — they believe in the idea of "limited government." Really. Honest.
In November 2010 the people of the United States went to the polls and spoke loudly and firmly by electing 65 new Republican members to the House of Representatives and over 600 to the various state legislators. Most of these new legislators were elected with the support of the Tea Party.
There was a great cry of jubilation across the land by the conservatives and of gloom by the liberals. There were hundreds of articles in the conservative press claiming they the nation would be set on a new path and the budget could be balanced and the deficit reduced. John Boehner (R-OH) was chosen to be the Speaker of the House — the third most powerful position in the Republic. We looked, with gleeful anticipation, towards a new day on the banks of the Potomac. That was then, before the dreaded political disease of Potomac fever incapacitated the Republican leadership and majority.
The Democrats had lost a major battle in November, but they are now beginning to win the war — the war in the media. During the Civil War the North lost its first major battles at Manassas and Fredericksburg and the people of the South danced in the streets. They thought they were on the way to winning the war and Lincoln would have to bow to their demands. Then the battle of Gettysburg took place, the war turned and the South lost.
This is analogous to what is happening in Washington now. The Republicans won a major victory in November, but the Democrats are winning the war of the budget. They are winning it in the media. They are winning due to the timidity of the Republicans.
In a mere 86 days the Democrats have not only seized the initiative, but they are driving the Republicans back to a defensive position. The Republicans have lost any advantage they gained in November. The battle over the budget has deteriorated into a daily claim by the Democrats that the evil, radical Republicans want to shut the government down while the Democrats are being rational and reasonable by offering a few paltry budget cuts. The battle over the union issue is being lost in the states in the same manner.
During the Battle of the Bulge during WWII when the German army mounted an offensive against the allied troops in Belgium most of the generals under Eisenhower’s command were surprised and shocked by the German action. They were at a loss to enact a plan to counter the German advance. Eisenhower split his forces and gave command of the forces on the north shoulder of the salient to the British General Montgomery, whose first action was to state that he needed to “tidy up his lines before he could mount a counter offensive. Montgomery was always known for his timidness.
The commander on of the U.S. forces on the south shoulder was General George S. Patton, a man known for his temerity Patton believed that an attack on the Germans was needed immediately — a belief for which he was roundly criticized. Patton, ignoring his critics, mounted the greatest winter offensive in the history of the United States. His forces relived the besieged town of Bastogne and turned back the German offensive.
One of the people Patton admired was the Prussian King Frederick the Great, who is quoted as saying; “Always presume that the enemy has dangerous designs and always be forehanded with the remedy. But do not let these calculations make your timid.” Patton believed timidity was tantamount to cowardice and had no place in military actions. He believed if you had the resources, training and moral fortitude you should not waste them by being timid. If you wanted to win you needed to take decisive action while you had the advantage.
Speaker Boehner should take a leaf from Frederick the Great’s book and stand up to his Democrat and media critics while he has the support of conservatives and independents — especially the Tea Party. His predecessor, Nancy Pelosi, had no problem addressing the public, on a daily basis, during the health care debate. She had no problem spitting out unsubstantiated facts and downright lies, even when her critics responded with the truth. This did not bother her one bit. She, and her Senate colleague, Harry Reid, She kept her troops in line and focused on the mission of passing ObamaCare. Nothing fazed her or gave her pause. She was Patton in a skirt.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer briefly revealed his true face and the strategy of the Democratic Party Tuesday as reporters listened to him instruct fellow Democrats in how to paint Republicans and House Speaker John Boehner as extremist Tea Party zealots in the budget debates. “I always use the word extreme,” Schumer told his fellow Democrats. “That is what the caucus instructed me to use this week.”
The brief peek behind the curtain came as Schumer was about to start a conference call with reporters on Tuesday morning, according to The New York Times. The No. 3 Democrat in the Senate was apparently unaware that many of the reporters were already on the line when he began revealing what passes as strategic messaging for Democrats.
After thanking his colleagues — Barbara Boxer of California, Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, Thomas R. Carper of Delaware and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut — for doing the budget bidding for the Senate Democrats, Schumer told them to portray John A. Boehner of Ohio, the speaker of the House, as painted into a box by the Tea Party, and to decry the spending cuts that he wants as extreme.
A minute or two into the talking-points tutorial, though, someone apparently figured out that reporters were listening, and silence fell, according to the Times.
After finding their bearings, the Democrats launched right into their message. “We are urging Mr. Boehner to abandon the extreme right wing,” said Boxer, urging the House to compromise on the scale of spending cuts and to drop proposed amendments that would deny federal financing for Planned Parenthood and for government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency.
Carper, too, hit the word “extreme,” referring to some House Republicans’ “right-wing extremist friends.” Cardin decried Boehner’s giving into “extremes of his party.” Blumenthal closed by speaking of the “relatively small extreme group of ideologues” who are “an anchor” dragging down the budget negotiation process.
“It just lends to the fact to what we’ve always known, that this is a political game," said Rep. Allen West (R-FL) on Fox News. "It’s about gamesmanship, it’s about maneuvering, and it really is about politics. It’s not about doing what is best for the American people, it’s not about reducing the size and scope of the federal government so we can get back to have long-term, sustainable economic and job growth. I think Charles Schumer showed his hand. Now it’s up to the American people to realize who are really the ones who are standing as an obstacle for us to move forward.”
It matters not what the Republicans say to refute Schumer’s comments. The debate now is over the comments and not the issue of the budget. The Democrats will continue to call the Republicans “Tea Party extremists” as their caucus has dictated. No matter how hard Boehner and his troops attempt to counter this strategy they are on the defensive.
I suggest Boehner marshal his troops and go on the offensive. He should go on TV, as Pelosi did, and tell the America people this battle is not about the extreme or radical views of the Tea Party, it’s about protecting this Republic from a financial disaster. Look the American people in the eye and remind them why they were elected in November. Tell them why these cuts are needed and that the Democrats are the radical extremists. Tell them exactly what a government shutdown really involves and that the seniors collecting Social Security and Medicare will not be affected. Military pay will not be affected. Air traffic control and border security will not be affected. The delivery of mail will not be affected as the Post Office is self-funded. Lay the blame at the feet of the Democrats and put them on the defense.
Boehner should look presidential — after all he is third in the line of presidential succession. He needs to convince the people he is a strong leader, not a nice fellow trying to bring all sides together. You cannot bring all sides together if some of the sides don’t want to negotiate in good faith. You need to get their attention first and the only way to this is present them with the consequences if they remain intransient.
Boehner and the Republicans will be lambasted in the left-wing media. That’s the price of leadership. No matter what the Republicans do they will take heat from the Democrat’s minions in the press. So What! It’s not the press that matters, it’s the American people.
Boehner must marshal his lieutenants and give them a precise set of talking points, talking points that coincide with those of the people who elected them — not talking points that placate the media. If he does this he will take control of the debate, gather more support from the conservative media, especially the radio talkers, and force Obama’s hand on the budget — a hand he has been reluctant to show since his election. Make Obama take responsibility for a budget.