Friday, April 18, 2008

Radicalism is totally unacceptable. That is, if we can establish a tenuous insignificant link between a prominent Democrat and a (former) radical.

Sean Hannity and the rest of the GOP noise machine are super-duper concerned that presidential candidate Barack Obama might secretly be a communist extremist because he's met former member of the left-wing extremist group Weather Underground William Ayers and didn't punch him in the nose (or something like that.)

As Michelle Malkin put it, this isn't just a smear based on the lame, tired, and slimey stereotype of Democrats being secret communists developed by movement conservative extremists that is trotted out over and over again, it's a matter "of character, truthfulness, and judgment."

Which is why Michellle Malkin and Sean Hannity and Fox News and the rest made such a big deal about the link between David Horowitz and President George W. Bush, as described in Banana Republicans by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber

During the 2000 presidential and congressional elections, every Republican member of the U.S. Congress received a free pamphlet, compliments of Congressman Tom Delay, the party's majority whip. Written by conservative activist David Horowitz, the pamphlet was called The Art of Political War: How Republicans Can Fight to Win. It came with an endorsement on the cover by Karl Rove, the senior adviser to then-candidate George W. Bush. According to Rove, The Art Of Political War was "a perfect pocket guide to winning on the policial battlefield from an experienced warrior." In addition to DeLay's gift to members of Congress, the Heritage Foundation, one of the leading conservative think tanks in Washington, found Horowitz's advice so impressive that it sent another 2,300 copies to conservative activists around the country.

True to its title, The Art of Political War argues that "Politics is war conducted by other means. In political warfare you do not fight just to prevail in an argument, but to destroy the enemy's fighting ability ... In political wars, the aggressor usually prevails." Moreover, "Politics is a war of position. In war there are two sides: friends and enemies. Your task is to define yourself as the friend of as large a constituency as possible compatible with your principles, while defining your opponent as the enemy when ever you can. The act of defining combatants is analogous to the military concept of choosing the terrain of battle. Choose the terrain that makes the fight as easy for you as possible."

This concept of politics as warfare is intimately connected to Horowitz's personal political roots. In the 1960s, he was a militant Marxist and editor of Ramparts, one of the most radical leftist magazines in the United States. He also lent his vocal support to the Black Panther Party, which advocated and practiced armed "self-defense" against what it viewed as the "foreign occupying force" of racist white police. After becoming disillusioned with the Panthers, Horowitz took a hard swing to the right, thereby winning the admiration of the conservatives he used to denounce. His memoir of the 1960s, Destructive Generation, was one of the three books that Karl Rove recommended to George W. Bush in 1993 as Rove began grooming Bush for the presidency. Horowitz has visited personally on several occasions to offer advice, beginning with Bush's days as governor of Texas and continuing during his presidency.

Of course, Horowitz is not the only disillusioned leftist from the sixties. What makes him significant is that his militancy has remained constant, even as his worldview has changed. In a strange way, he remains a Leninist, right down to his appearance (balding, with a Lenin-like goatee.) He even continues to offer Lenin's words as advice. "You cannot cripple an opponent by outwitting him in a political debate," he explains in The Art of Political War. "You can do it only by following Lenin's injunction: 'In political conflicts, the goal is not to refute your opponents argument, but to wipe him from the face of the earth.'"

And the principled opposition to radicalism associated with the power of the presidency is why Malkin, Hannity, Limbaugh et all were so vocal in their protests of Horowitz's creepy efforts to divide the world into "friends and enemies."

Hm. Now where have I heard of someone suggesting that the proper role of a governing regime is to divide the world into "friends and enemies" before. Oh, that's right:

It was the patron philosopher of the Nazi party, Carl Schmitt, who suggested that the state has one essential function: distinguishing friends from enemies. This friend-enemy distinction has two classifying functions: friends make up the members of the national body (based on a number of possible criteria for inclusion and exclusion—race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious and political beliefs) while enemies are targeted for destruction in an effort to rid the state of the inconvenient schisms caused by a pluralistic society.
Obviously, this must be why Sean Hannity is so outraged about Horowitz and why he brings the subject up every single time he talks about (or to) President Bush.

1 comment:

Spocko said...

Great post.

I remember when Hannity had on Pat Robertson after he talked about assassination of leaders of other countries. He made a big deal about how he didn't like what he said, didn't condone it, but that Pat had apologized and that Pat was still a friend.

Same deal with Ted Nugent. In that case he ran with the "It's just a silly rocker! I mean come on!"
But he was clear that he would stick with Ted.

As usual with these hosts, when the "You associate with someone who said something bad that makes you evil" game doesn't work on them.

It's hypocritical but he doesn't care. He has a very slippery mind that way.

On thing about Horowitz that also applies to George W. If at some point in their life they had a "come to Jesus" moment then all is forgiven since now they are on the side of the conservative angels. Everything you did before is forgiven and forgotten, boozing, drinking and driving, hanging out with shady people all washed away now that you have "seen the light!"

Nice trick.