Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Could an Obama surrogate please point this out?

Having remote "associations" with a former 60s extremist radical is totally unacceptable if you're a Democrat. Having a former 60s extremist radical play a prominent and significant role in Republican politics, however, is fine and dandy.

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 advisor to then-candidate George W. Bush. According to Rove, The Art of Political War was "a perfect pocket guide to winning on the political 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 whenever 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 three books that Karl Rove recommended to George W. Bush in 1993 as Rove began grooming Bush for the presidency. Horowitz has visited Bush 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 opponent's argument, but to wipe him from the face of the earth.'"


Sheldon said...


Of course the whole smear by guilt by tenous association against Obama is rediculous.

However, to play devils advocate. Horowitz was a 60s radical. But so what? He wasn't one that was involved in an organization that carried out bombings. "And he is repentant as far as the right is concerned.) Most radicals of the sixties were not involved in bombings and were very critical of the Weathermen tactics. They thought radicals should be organizing movements, not engaging in armed propaganda.

So the equivalancy between Ayers and Horowitz kind of misses the mark.

Don't get me wrong, I think Horowitz is a supreme asshole.

Of course, if we were a society concerned with truth and morality, then we might note in comparison that McCain flew over 20 bombing missions over North Vietnam, and likely killed far many more people than the Weatherman, who only killed 3-4 of their own.

Hume's Ghost said...

I don't think a perfect equivalency is necessary to make the point, and Horowitz was certainly extremist enough ... he has stated himself that he committed treason in 1972.

The point is that his ideological extremism has remained constant despite having shifted from left to right, and that Republicans are perfectly comfortable with someone who quotes Lenin, so long as he does it to attack Democrats.

Hume's Ghost said...

And I suspect that had Horowitz been part of the Weathermen and made the same flip to extreme anti-liberalism he would be every bit as popular.

Sheldon said...

On your last comment you are probably right.

"he has stated himself that he committed treason in 1972."

Yeah, but remember, the standards for treason on the right basically means criticizing U.S. foreign policy. :)

Hume's Ghost said...

One of my guest posts at Unclaimed Territory criticized the standards of "treason" that mov. conservatives employ, so I am not one to throw the term around casually.

I have not even considered the issue enough to conclude one way or other if what he did was actually treason.

His actual actions involved publishing classified intelligence or something like that ... it's easy found with a Google search.