The grand strategist

by Bruce Walker
web posted March 19, 2001

Liberals today confuse political tactics with political strategy. Slick, the consummate politician, was a pathological liar whose mendacity gained temporary victories but alienated all neutral parties and provided strong reasons for his foes to stick tightly together. He reduced the grand machine of the Democrat Party into minority status, left his supporters in disarray, and failed to ever gain a majority for anything positive.

George W. Bush, like Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower, and Franklin Roosevelt, is a great political strategist. The details that bogged down Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford do not bother the Head of Government and Head of State of the richest and most powerful nation in the world.
Great generals - good and bad men - consistently hold fast to their commitments. So with President Bush.

George W. BushOur new President is sending out clear signals every day, and the theme is coherent, consistent, and clear. He is disciplined, which means that he creates expectations of discipline among his supporters. Holding fast to schedules, treating everyone with civility, listening seriously to everyone - these are hallmarks of someone with a vision of America. The President (Oh, how nice to be able to say that phrase again and feel good about it!) is not allowing liberals an opening to present him as mean, petty, or bigoted.

He also knows that this "treatment" does influence people. Honesty teaches even those initially hostile to trust him over time, and simple respect for others engendered similar responses from friend and foe alike. Congressman Moakley and Senator McGovern are respected men whose ideology was out of synch with even the middle of the Democrat Party. Honoring them as people, even as he disagrees with their politics, makes it very hard for Democrats to treat the President badly.

Those who have been recipients of courteous and honorable behavior by this President - in stinging contrast to his predecessor - will quietly or not so quietly begin to dispute ad hominem attacks on President Bush. Making his motives an issue soon becomes very counter-productive. Moreover, his acts of creating honor and integrity as independent positive values means that he will have a common interest with honorable Democrats that those Democrats do not have with their corrupt colleagues, like Clinton, Gore, Rodham, and McAuliffe.

So liberal Democrats grasp for any straw and call President Bush "dumb." Less intelligent men might feel compelled to respond to that charge. The successful son of George and Barbara Bush, however, is quite comfortable with his mind, education, and experience. He has nothing to "prove"- just much to "do." He also understands how much most of us resent vain liberal elitists, and so he ignores those few he will never please, and allows them to throw him into the crowds of the masses, making him part of the common people - like Lincoln, FDR, and Reagan.

Like any great strategist, he moves with lightning speed, even as he smiles and waves. The House of Representatives vote seems to have caught Democrats off-guard, and they - not Republicans - are acting unconfident and scared. Always a step behind him, Democrats seem to have no grand plan beyond frustrating the President's grand plans. Democrats are stuck in the same mire that caught Republicans in the FDR and Truman era, shadow boxing with a leader.

He also understands that lazy liberals, like failed leaders of other dying empires, make comfortable assumptions. Audacity confounds them. Sticking with John Ashcroft, pushing through his tax bill, tackling Social Security reform - these are the types of campaigns which liberals are used to winning with just bluff and bluster. The Maginot Line of the Left keeps liberals from reacting as much from overconfidence as from fear, especially when their intra-prattle is so self-congratulatory.

President Bush also seems critically aware of the evolution of communications. FDR used "fireside chats" on radio. Ronald Reagan laid out compelling cases on television. George W. Bush understands that he can largely control how he appears and what his administration says to the American people. Internet technology and cable television make us news hungry, and all media are desperate for any story or breaking news.

When the President "makes" news, he can convey that to the American people through countless outlets - circumventing entirely, if he wishes - the fat, frowning pigs of the establishment press. Loyal, competent, trusted subordinates understand this critical value and- like a Macedonian Phalanx - allow no openings for jabs or pokes. The New York Times or CNN or Newsweek will learn about a story precisely when our President wishes them to learn about it.

So rather than courting them, they must court him - if they want any news. Moreover, the stodgy gray buildings of the Ministry of Truth are crumbling. There is no "spike" of stories now. Mega-billion dollar corporations ignore true news these days at peril of their credibility, power, and profit. Much like his father did in Desert Storm, this President knows how to use a hostile press to get his message out, by making their need greater than his need.

Finally, President Bush understands - perhaps more than any President in modern history - the lean, quiet, toughness of his many scattered soldiers. Conservatives are accustomed to fighting lonely battles in unfriendly classrooms, courtrooms, and government bureaus. We are self-directed and self-reliant individuals. Just as his father, when still a very young man, was plucked thrice from the Pacific Ocean and thrice returned to his Avenger torpedo-bomber, conservatives are used to being driven back into the woods and fields, and coming back again.

We are, in short, battle-tested veterans of bloodless but serious wars. We don't seek vengeance or domination, but only freedom and dignity again. We know our cause is just, and we know why we contend with our powerful foes. We fight for something noble, and they fight for nothing but Empire. Such an army with such a commander cannot lose.

Bruce Walker is a frequent contributor to The Pragmatist and The Common Conservative.

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