Saturday, May 23, 2009

Against the Politics of Niceness

At the library Friday, I picked up Naftali Bendavid's book, The Thumpin': How Rahm Emanuel and the Democrats Learned to Be Ruthless and Ended the Republican Revolution.

It's an excellent insider account of the 2006 congressional campaign, with DCCC chairman Rahm F---ing Emanuel as the protagonist. This outburst, from a May 2005 meeting between Emanuel, DSCC chairman Chuck Schumer and DNC chairman Howard Dean, is typical:
"You're nowhere, Howard. Your field plan is not a field plan. That's f---ing bulls---. . . . Look, Chuck comes from Brooklyn. I come from Chicago. It's not Burlington, Vermont. . . . I know your field plan -- it doesn't exist. I've gone around the country with these races. I've seen your plan. There's no plan, Howard."
The old adage that nice guys finish last is quite true in politics. Some people have a 10th-grade civics class concept of "democracy" as something pure and noble, but if you've spent much time close to the process, you understand that "democracy" is a brutal, ugly business. It is not for fainthearts and starry-eyed dreamers.

So when Rod Dreher gets sniffy about Mark Levin or people act horrified by an implied slur in an RNC video, I just want to pound those weenies on the head and scream: "Wake the f--- up, you clueless dingbats! The Democrats are eating Republican babies for breakfast, bankrupting our grandchildren, and giving major industrial corporations as gift-wrapped presents to their labor goon buddies! If you want to award gold stars for 'plays well with others,' go be a kindergarten teacher and leave politics the hell alone!"

Maybe when the grown-ups are through beating the Democrats, then we'll have time to mind our manners like we were eating watercress-and-endive finger sandwiches at the Ladies Cotillion Society luncheon.

This is fight time, and the neurasthenic wussie-boys need to shut the f--- up with their ceaseless whining. Meanwhile, anyone who's interested in actually fighting the Democrats needs to read this book. We've got to find a way to reverse-engineer Emanuel's take-no-prisoners approach to politics.

UPDATE: Stogie calls our attention to his post about Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, a book I read more than 10 years ago. It's very insightful in terms of basic principles of political organizing.

I think Stogie would enjoy The Thumpin' , because it gives excellent detailed accounts of various aspects of practical politics. One of the things I hate about intellectual-type pundits is their habit of "trendmongering," where they're always offering a "Big Picture" idea of where the country is going. But if you know anything about actual politics, you know that it doesn't work that way.

Every "trend" is a function of mulitple distinct events. The objective of the political activist is to make those events happen or, as the case may be, to capitalize on events that happen beyond his control.

The defeatist attitude of Republicans toward MSM bias is an example of how people surrender the initiative because they see a "trend" -- something beyond their control -- rather than looking for ways they can make something happen to change the trend.

Another example is how Republicans allow themselves to believe that certain groups -- minorities, women, gays, academics -- are effectively off-limits to them as potential voters. Look, if only 4% of black voters are Republican, that's still hundreds of thousands of voters. If you could identify those voters, organize and train them as activists, and support them in an effective outreach program, there's no telling what you might achieve. But you're never going to accomplish anything if you accept the "trend" and surrender the initiative.

A defeatist mentality guarantees defeat, because that mentality always counsels doing nothing and accepting the status quo. If the enemy is winning, and you do nothing, the enemy will continue to win. But even if you're winning, if you content yourself with a do-nothing approach of defending the status quo, the enemy will sooner or later seize the initiative -- as Rahm Emanuel did in 2006 -- and then you'll be forced to fight with an army grown weak and lazy by years of do-nothingism.

BTW, I also recommend Bare Knuckles and Back Rooms by veteran Republican campaign operative Ed Rollins. It gives you lots of detailed stories about individual campaigns, including the 1994 Senate campaign of Michael Huffington, where Rollins' efforts were effectively sabotaged by Huffington's idiot wife, Arianna. She's typical of a certain type of dilettante who turns to politics as a fasiohable hobby, but can't be taught anything because she is too arrogant to think she has anything to learn.


  1. Sounds like a declaration of war, RSM.

  2. Very well said, Stacy. See my post today about Lessons from "Rules for Radicals" and the dirty tactics that the Left uses against us. It is much in line with what you say here.

  3. William F. Buckley Jr. wasn't particularly proud of his threat to sock that goddamned sonofabitch in the jaw (so he'd stay plastered), as it were. Read "The Reagan I Knew."

    Buckley taught you and I and any conservative the way, yet you fail to mention him and don't even attempt to appreciate, in this post at least, his life's results acting against everything you advocate here.

  4. So Anonymous, how many conservatives did Bill Buckley get elected to Congress? Just curious.

  5. I should like to think Mr. Buckley would hope none.

    Buckely knew Twain, sir.

  6. I think that Republicans spend to much of their time trying to be like Democrats. They've ceded large swaths of the electorate without a fight.

  7. I'm surprised you didn't comment on the "Learned to Be Ruthless" tag on the subtitle with emphasis on the "Learned" part. It's not like the guy has been holding back over the years. Rahm Emanuel and the Democrats have been ruthless for years. Rahm was born ruthless.