Tea Parties, Defeatism and Wolverines

Discussing Rick Moran’s criticisms of the Tea Party protests, Dan Riehl writes:

I remember when Rick pronounced the Iraq War lost and a humiliation for America. So this sort of thing from him doesn’t really surprise me. . . .The naysayers are always the least remembered voices when something succeeds or even when it fails. There’s good reason for that. America just doesn’t take kindly to losers, even if they turn out to have been on the right side of events.

Very harsh. I hesitate to judge Rick as harshly as I would judge David Brooks or George Will if they wrote the same thing — and perhaps I’m wrong to be more tolerant of bloggers than of Old Media pundits.

Friday, I had lunch with Tim Mooney of Save Our Secret Ballot and, in the course of discussing everyone’s favorite CPAC ’09 topic — what’s wrong with the GOP? — discussed the problem of the polluted information stream.

Among the ill effects of liberal bias in the media is that much political “news” amounts to thinly disguised DNC talking-points. The conservative must learn to think critically about news and politics, to filter out that which is misleading, or else he will internalize the funhouse-mirror distortions of reality that define the liberal weltanschauung.

This, I said to Mr. Mooney, is one of the major problems of the Republican Party, that so many of its supporters have unwittingly accepted liberal beliefs as political truths. Therefore, when those who present themselves as conservatives parrot the liberal line, the damage they do is far worse than if the same statements were made by Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi. Why? Because this “conservative” echo tends to act as a hardening catalyst for the conventional wisdom.

I have never forgiven David Brooks for “National Greatness.” Brooks’s argument, that “anti-government” conservatism is both wrong as policy and doomed as politics, had a demoralizing effect on the Republican Party. The elegance of Brooks’s writing — whatever your opinion of the man, the elegance of his prose style is beyond dispute — was the spoonful of sugar to make that poisonous medicine go down. That was 12 years ago, and if the GOP now appears disastrously ill, Brooks and his erstwhile publishers at the Weekly Standard are heavily implicated in this perhaps fatal disease.

Rick Moran is not David Brooks. Moran’s influence is sufficiently limited that he can be wrong without inflicting much damage. But in such a desperate political crisis as conservatives now face, they can ill afford to let off-key voices lead the chorus. Moran and others are free to quarrel with the “Tea Party” tactics of opposing Obamanomics, but small-d democratic considerations will relegate them to the role of dogs barking at the passing caravan.

“The opposition party must oppose,” as Jennifer Rubin said. Since the Democratic majority is proposing a liberal economic monstrosity of epic scale, opposition ought to be easy. And just because it is so easy, conservatives should resist the temptation to be lazy or sloppy in tactics.

Constructive criticism of tactics is one thing; pronouncing the opposition as doomed from the outset is something else. Stephen Green is a good blog buddy (whom last I saw at 2 a.m. in the lobby of the Omni Shoreham), but when I heard Stephen arguing in essence that the GOP couldn’t possibly make a dent in Democratic hegemony before 2014 — hey, I called bullshit.

Friends don’t let friends peddle defeatist bullshit. You cannot organize opposition unless you first believe that opposition can be effective and meaningful. Telling conservatives that there is no point deploying an ambush on the road to serfdom? That’s defeatist bullshit. If Ho Chi Minh had thought that way, the French would still rule Indochina.

Conservatives are now a guerrilla resistance. Harassing the enemy — staging raids and ambushes that prevent him from enjoying his conquest at leisure — is basic to guerrilla resistance. If we are doomed to destruction, as least let it be said that we died fighting. But those who never fight, never win.

In a word: “Wolverines!”

UPDATE: Linked by Dan Riehl, who colorfully accuses me of being too nice to Rick.

PREVIOUSLY:
2/25: Thoughts on strategy
2/23: Rick Moran takes counsel of his fears
12/21: But seriously, folks

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