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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Should Conservatives Play Long Ball?

“A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government." – Thomas Jefferson

Quin Hillyer writes in American Spectator; “Conservatives itching for an all-or-nothing showdown with Barack Obama risk playing right into his hands. A crisis is exactly what he wants. To understand this, it is necessary, once again, to understand that most of his playbook comes from radical organizer Saul Alinsky, and that his playbook also assuredly draws on the work of professors he encountered at Columbia University, Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven [Glen Beck’s no. 1 nemesis].

"The enemy properly goaded and guided in his reaction will be your major strength," wrote Alinsky in Rules for Radicals. "The first step in community organization is community disorganization. The disruption of the present organization is the first step" [Rule No. 3: "Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy. Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)]

“Cloward and Piven, meanwhile, called for "a political crisis… that could lead to legislation for a guaranteed annual income and thus an end to poverty." They propose actions that "would generate severe political strains, and deepen existing divisions…. [B]y the collapse of current financing arrangements, powerful forces can be generated for major economic reforms at the national level." And: "Advocacy must be supplemented by organized demonstrations to create a climate of militancy."

“A crisis is Obama's friend. An angry reaction is his ally. Disorder is his goal.”

“His mortal enemy (speaking tactically), on the other hand, is steady, sober, thoughtful, rational pressure by political adversaries who are willing to take the time to consolidate gains, explain themselves, reassure the public that it (the public) has nothing to fear from them (Obama's adversaries), and which constantly calibrates their words and actions to make it evident that they are keeping the moral high ground. A government shutdown does not fit this model. Forcing a debt crisis does not fit this model. Incendiary rhetoric doesn't fit the model, nor do all-or-nothing ultimatums.”

“This is not – repeat, not – to advocate a weak cautiousness. Boldness in trying times is definitely a strength. But it should be a well-planned boldness of considered actions – preferably "gamed out" in advance – rather than a reactive or (even worse) angry recklessness. Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan, for instance, is probably the boldest proposal put forth with unified Republican support in well over a decade. Yet it didn't come out of nowhere. It was carefully crafted, carefully rolled out, and sold by a man of high intelligence whose looks and demeanor are more that of the reliably do-gooder brother than they are of the ogre the liberals want to portray. It is exactly the right sort of gambit.”

“Tea Partiers may not yet recognize it, but Obama knows he lost a bit more than he won on the $38 billion deal on the Continuing Resolution, and he knows he has been outflanked in the short term at least by Ryan's plan as well. Obama is rattled. His own budget speech last week showed it. His tone was hostile, petulant, incendiary/demagogic and, in a word, unpresidential. NBC's Chuck Todd, an astute observer but hardly a raging conservative, wrote Tuesday that Obama's speech seems to have backfired. (This is in marked contrast to some of Todd's earlier impressions of or interviews with Obama and.) Todd's political antennas usually are pretty well attuned. He rightly senses that Obama is off his game. The reason Obama is off his game is that Republicans did not force things to a crisis level: Obama knew that if he turned down Speaker Boehner it would be he, the president, who looked radical – but he knew that if he went along, he would both anger his base and cede the rhetorical ground of saying that "investments" by government should outweigh short-term deficit concerns. He suffered a similar narrow loss when he was forced by Mitch McConnell in December to renew the Bush-era tax cuts.”

“For a guy who thrives on crises, it must really gall him that he hasn't found a way to force a crisis from which he can benefit, while meanwhile realizing that the tide continues to flow (albeit slowly) in the direction away from his government-corporatist/semi-socialist (at least) proclivities.”

“Conservatives should keep the pressure on. Conservatives should use all the weapons in our arsenal. But we should not play into his hands by firing wildly, or by rushing Pickett-like over open ground. Perhaps an NFL analogy will help: For the last four years in the aggregate, the New Orleans Saints have produced more yards of offense than any other team. But the Saints aren't known for being particularly reckless in throwing the long ball; they mix dink-and-dunk passes with just enough "bombs" to make the "big play" a real and effective threat. That model should serve conservatives, too. Keep the pressure on, keep gobbling up ground, and then look for the right opportunity for the deep strike rather than forcing a big play that just isn't available.”

“Panic and crises play into the hands of the left. Reason and a firm steadiness of purpose play into the hands of conservatives. Obama wants to goad us into a huge mistake. We must not let him do so. The Tea Parties collectively are the best thing that has happened to American politics in at least 16 years, and maybe since the ascent of Ronald Reagan to the White House three full decades ago. But they will remain the best thing only if they don't succumb to the downside risks of precipitous action. Let the unions be the ones who look like thugs: We'll beat them at the polls, as conservatives did in 2009, 2010, and in the Wisconsin judicial race. Let the left, not the right, lose its cool. Let Obama be the one who loses his equilibrium. In short, learn Alinsky's lessons, without adopting his immoral tactics. When an Alinskyite like Obama can't goad his opposition into mistakes, when his simplistic stratagems don't work, then he has little of substance or tactics to fall back on.”

“This government needs major shrinkage. The way to do that is for conservatives not to throw Hail Mary passes, but instead for them to move down the field and then win at the polls in 2012 – in all branches of government. That's how James Madison and company designed the system. That is the system's genius and glory: It resists radical change in any direction, while usually requiring several election cycles for full course corrections. Conservatives should be Madisonians: indefatigable, determined, but flexible enough to see that long-term goals can be achieved in zig-zag fashions. Ordered liberty is our watchword. Disorder is Obama's preferred solution, one which puts our liberties at risk. We must not give it to him.”

Hillyer makes some good points in his article. I agree, we must adopt Alinsky’s tactics and turn them on the left. If we do this we will not only confuse them, we will spin then in all directions. They have no real message except fear. They have no plan except to get elected. Obama doesn’t know how to govern, he only knows how to campaign. This he learned as a community organizer. He leaves the act of governance to his lieutenants (czars) and allows the media to craft his message. [Rule no. 8: "Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose." And Rule no. 10: “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition. It is this unceasing pressure that results in the reactions from the opposition that are essential for the success of the campaign."]

The election is 19 months away. The government's collision with its debt ceiling is about one month away, maybe less. How is Obama spending the first of the four weeks (if that) he has left before the government -- over which he allegedly presides -- hits its credit limit? He is campaigning for reelection.

Obama's three-stop trip to California and back "has all the markings of a campaign swing," according to Bloomberg News. That's because it is one. Los Angeles-based Democratic strategist Bill Carrick told Bloomberg that the trip was not really campaigning, but, well, with it the White House will "start focusing on swing states early so you can broaden the electoral map."

Two of Obama's three stops were in the swing states of Virginia and Nevada. After his speech in Palo Alto, Calif., he attended fundraisers in San Francisco and Los Angeles – which is what Democrats running for national office do in Democratic states.

On the day of Obama's September 2009 speech to a joint session of Congress urging the passage of health care reform, Politics Daily columnist Walter Shapiro wrote, "Obama has been constantly singing a downbeat chorus about the burden of rapidly escalating health care costs." That was an understatement. By March 3, 2010, Obama had given 35 "major" speeches on health care reform, according to a tally by the Washington Post.

The man loves to talk. He loves the performance and the attention it brings. He is in love with himself. But at this point in the Obama presidency, it should be obvious to someone in the West Wing that this is an enterprise of rapidly diminishing returns. What is gained from the expulsion of so much wind from the president's overtaxed lungs?

Passage of major legislation? Obama's nearly three dozen speeches actually hurt the cause of health care reform. The health care bill, which he let Congress craft as he flew around the nation talking, was passed through the old-fashioned back-room arm twisting of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, not the persuasive powers of the president. The stimulus bill passed because it was a traditional Congressional goodie bag, not because the president converted reluctant lawmakers into Keynesians.

The president's appeal among independents might be a good indicator of his persuasiveness. These are the Americans most susceptible to a good argument. Obama won 52 percent of independents in the 2008 election, according to CNN exit polls. One year later, CNN exit polling showed that independents broke 60 percent for Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie in New Jersey and 65 percent for Republican Bob McDonnell in Virginia. A year after that, CNN reported that 57 percent of independents voted Republican in the 2010 mid-term elections. Obama's support among independents today? Thirty-five percent, according to the latest Gallup poll.

To expand on Hillyer’s football analogy we have the ball on our own 12 yard line and have just made a first down after taking the ball on our two. Our defense has been shredded by the media blitzes, especially from there left side. This is not the time to go long. We need a series of good plays to exploit the opponent’s weakness; they are susceptible to running plays up the center. We need patience, good players and a good quarterback, one who will not flinch under those blitzes and who can take a hit. When we have the opponent confused and reeling back that will be the time to go deep.

We have to remember, however, it’s getting late in the game and we are behind in the score. Most of the fans are rooting for us. They want us to win, even if we have to go to overtime.

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