If You’re Going to Play the Game of Politics, Play to Win
Last week, Meghan McCain–who, for better or worse, has become a player in the game of politics–went on Al Sharpton’s unwatchable show on MSNBC (which is most famous for being mocked on SNL) and stated the following with regard to Michelle Malkin and the late Andrew Breitbart:
I really don’t understand the popularity of Michelle Malkin and Andrew Breitbart who exacerbate people’s fears.
(The video of this exchange is below.)
Shrug. My first impression of the above exchange was that it was kind of a nothing burger. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does anyone hear it? If Meghan McCain says that she doesn’t understand the appeal of a couple of conservative bloggers on a show that nobody watches (except for a few writers over at SNL so they can get some good material for a skit), does anybody know about it, or care?
Well, apparently, people did seem to care because the internet has been ablaze this week with righteous indignation from conservatives who seemed to be offended that Ms. McCain implied (but didn’t actually state) that Michelle Malkin and the late Andrew Breitbart are extreme. Many bloggers that I respect, like my good friend Robert Stacy McCain, wrote posts condemning her. Not to mention, Twitter lit up like a Christmas tree with criticisms of Ms. McCain’s statements on Sharpton’s show.
Finally Meghan McCain responded with a post of her own titled, Cut it Out, Internet Bullies! Being somewhat sick of this story (and not quite understanding its appeal myself), I begrudgingly read her column. Then I got to the part where she discussed what people were saying to her on her Twitter feed. I gotta admit, it was pretty appalling–I’ve pasted a quote from Ms. McCain’s column below:
I am fat pig. I am ugly. I am disgusting. I am an embarrassment to my family, and they should be ashamed of me. I am an anti-American extremist. I am a clueless whore. I should drink a bottle of alcohol and pills and kill myself.
Now, being the diligent blogger that I am, I clicked on the link to Meghan McCain’s Twitter feed to check out the scene for myself. Holy crap. The Tweets that I saw on her Twitter page were worse than some of the things that she printed in her column. I’ve pasted a few of them below:
*Breitbart had more class in his pinky finger than @McCainBlogette has in her entire 4 foot, 300 lb body.
*Her boobs weigh 300 lbs.
*Probably just missed snack time. We know how she gets when she misses snack time!!
[email protected] is an anit-american extremist who hates her country or origin.
[email protected] Man, you’re a disgusting person. May God have mercy on your soul.
[email protected] is what the leftist MSM wants to make Americans think fits the conservative label, she doesn’t, she a lazy little bitch.
*If @mccainblogette’s daddy wasn’t a senator she’d be a pole dancer in Phoenix.
[email protected] apparently subscribes to the theory that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, wrong chunky. #IAmBreitbart
*You are as big a disappointment as your dad, he could have stopped Obama but refused, that is extreme betrayal! #war @McCainBlogette
(Not to mention, there was a Tweet talking about how her dad cracked under torture, but now it’s been deleted. Like the mouthbreather who wrote it would have lasted a day in a North Vietnamese prison camp–much less five years. But, I digress.)
[email protected] at what point is this clueless whore(attention whore,but I wouldn’t doubt the other kind too) going to shut up?
Facepalm. My initial gut reaction after reading the above Tweets was, “We’re better than this”. I am no fan of Meghan McCain, but the vitriol that she received for just stating her opinion with regard to what websites she doesn’t find appealing seemed way over the top. She didn’t say anything bad about Breitbart or Malkin personally–she just implied that she found their websites to be a bit extreme. I, personally, love Michelle Malkin and all of the Breitbart sites (and I think that the late Andrew Breibart was a huge asset to the conservative movement), but, hey, it’s a big internet and conservatives are all about choice. Meghan McCain does not have to validate my opinions and sense of self-worth by reading the exact same sites that I read, any more than she does by liking the exact same flavors of ice cream that I like.
However, I thought that I might be over-reacting (everyone in the conservative blogosphere seemed to disagree with me), so I called up my dear friend John Hawkins to ask him his opinion on the McCain matter after reading him a bunch of the offending Tweets over the phone. (He gave me permission to discuss our conversation in my column after urging me to write about this topic). John told me that he “wasn’t a fan of the sexist stuff” and that “when a person uses personal attacks in an argument, it sounds like he or she is losing the argument”. I couldn’t agree with him more. So therefore, I decided to take John’s advice and write about my thoughts on the McCain matter.
However, to be fair this column is really not going to be so much about the McCain internet brouhaha (please save me from comment hell) as it is going to be about how to engage in politics in a smart and productive manner (unlike those poor, misguided souls on Twitter). I have wanted to write about this for some time now and the whole Meghan McCain cyber-bullying incident has provided me with the perfect segue into this topic (if it wasn’t Meghan McCain it would be somebody else).
On my new favorite show, Game of Thrones, Tyrion Lannister is most famous for uttering the chilling phrase, “I understand the way this game is played”. (See the embed below.) Bottom line, if you are on Facebook, Twitter, write blog posts, comment on blogs, or volunteer for a campaign, you are playing the game of politics–so if you are going to play the game, you should know the rules and play to win. So without further ado, here are the five rules of politics as I see them:
1.) NEVER cede the higher ground to your opponent when you are winning on an issue.
Conservatives are clearly winning the civility war: we have the liberals on the run. I mean, David Axelrod was going on TV and actually defending the Obama Campaign’s acceptance of a one million dollar check from Bill Maher, who is famous for calling conservative women like Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin (as well as Hillary Clinton) disgusting four letter words. Oh, and Hustler recently Photoshopped conservative writer S.E. Cupp in a disgusting and misogynistic pose (please read Michelle Malkin’s excellent column about the sordid incident). Even liberal columnist Kirsten Powers has grown tired of liberal commentators on MSNBC, as well as Bill Maher, getting a free pass with regard to their flagrant misogyny. Not to mention, a group of conservative women who call themselves ShePAC, made a video montage of Bill Maher and David Letterman’s greatest sexist/misogynistic hits (see the embed below–NSFW).
Oh, and who could forget that God-awful column about Trig Palin courtesy of Wonkette, or the imfamous “hate-f**k column via Playboy. Enough said.
The American people are smart. They are starting to catch on to the left’s and the MSM’s little game of calling conservatives “uncivil”, all the while referring to conservatives as “teabaggers” and calling conservative women misogynistic four letter words.
However, the MSM is extremely biased and they will downplay flat out vile comments by liberal pundits and comedians, but will pounce like a hungry cheetah stalking a gazelle on the slightest infraction by any conservative–even random people on Twitter. I know this is not fair, but life isn’t fair. You have accept the world how it is–not how you want it to be. Just ask Rush Limbaugh (and he had the decency to apologize, unlike Bill Maher and co.). Sandra Fluke should have been known as a law student who (while testifying in front of a fake congressional hearing) displayed a shocking lack of knowledge of the US constitution when she demanded that the government pay for her birth control. Instead, she was made a martyr by the MSM simply because Rush Limbaugh used a very poor choice or words. And now, to the outside observer/swing voter who might read The Daily Beast, but doesn’t follow politics all that closely, Meghan McCain will appear to be the victim of right wing cyber-bullying. Even though the people on Twitter might have had fun calling her “a 300 pound whore who should kill herself”, she and Al Sharpton actually came out of this episode as the true winners–Ms. McCain just got a whole lot more blog hits and Al Sharpton just got more than five people to watch his show. Don’t get me wrong–these little snafus pale in comparison to the incivility that the right has had to endure from liberal pundits and comedians. However, since the left does have an advantage in that the MSM is in the bag for them, we have to try our best to always behave with class and dignity–and most importantly, we must never hand them the club to beat us with. We must think long term if we are going to play this game to win.
2.) People hate the thought police.
Another advantage that conservatives have over liberals is that we don’t tell other people how to live their lives or what to think–i.e., we don’t call people “racists” if they don’t like a particular politician, tell them that they need to redistribute their wealth, accuse them of waging a “war on women” if they disagree with us, tell people what kind of light bulb to buy or grocery bags to use, try to ban Happy Meals, or tell people “Good for you!” because they drive a Prius. In other words, if people wanted someone to tell them that they had to read/like certain websites, drive a Prius, use certain kinds of light bulbs, etc. or face vitriolic attacks, they’d probably vote for the Democrats. Therefore, independent swing voters who don’t follow politics closely but are watching this Meghan McCain incident unfold from a distance (and who voted for Obama the last time, but might be leaning towards Romney this time) might not like the idea that they have to be ardent disciples of Breitbart and Malkin or face exclusion or vicious ridicule. Those voters probably don’t want to be told what websites to read or what pundits to listen to anymore than they want to be told what food to eat or what car to drive. Furthermore, conservatives are supposed to be all about freedom of choice, remember?
Almost a year ago, I wrote a column where I chastised Dan Savage (who recently bullied a room full of high school students) and comedian Marc Maron for implying on Bill Maher’s panel that they would like to rape Michelle Bachman and Rick Santorum simply because they disagreed with them with regard to homosexuality and gay marriage (they also strongly objected to Marcus Bachman’s program which attempts to convert gays through prayer). To be specific, I wrote the following with regard to how intolerant that entire panel on Maher’s show was:
FYI, I’m not a huge fan of Marcus Bachmann’s whole “pray away the gay” crusade, just like I’m not a huge fan of Dan Savage’s claim that married people—gay or straight—shouldn’t be monogamous because it is “unnatural”. However, what I like less is the growing idea in leftist circles that it’s OK to fantasize about raping people that you disagree with politically. Newsflash Lefties—people have the right to be misguided, give bad advice, disagree with you, or be flat-out wrong without being bombarded with threats of sexual assault.
However, in light of the recent Meghan McCain internet brouhaha, I would like to amend my statement to the following:
Newsflash–people have the right to be misguided, give bad advice, disagree with you, or be flat-out wrong without being bombarded on Twitter and blogs with verbal abuse, such as calling them “a 300 pound whore who should take a bottle of pills and kill themselves”. And besides, voters really hate the thought police with an unbridled passion.
3.) People don’t vote for people they don’t like–i.e., mean people suck.
….So try to avoid personal attacks if at all possible.
Hypothetically speaking, if during the upcoming presidential debate Barack Obama turned to Mitt Romney and told him, “You’re ugly, weird, stupid, hate your country and should take a bottle of pills and kill yourself”, then he would probably lose the upcoming presidential election in a spectacular fashion. Why? Because like John Hawkins said, when you engage in personal attacks, you automatically sound like you are losing the argument because you have nothing factual to offer. (And, if you are choosing to play the game of politics by participating on Twitter, writing blogs, volunteering for a campaign, etc., then you should always remember that you are representing the Republican Party with your written words/actions.)
Furthermore, what’s so exasperating about this whole Meghan McCain situation is that we do have the facts on our side. John Nolte of the Breitbart site Big Hollywood wrote an excellent column where he pointed out that the late Andrew Breitbart actually hosted the GOProud event at CPAC this past year, and that he would never marginalize anyone over their views with regard to same sex marriage or “exacerbate people’s fears”. Furthermore, Nolte even explained that Ms. McCain had been recruited by Andrew Breibart back in 2008 after her dad’s loss, before she had become a well-known pundit; therefore, Ms. McCain was displaying a stunning lack of gratitude and was frankly wrong on the facts when she implied that Breitbart was “extreme” on Al Sharpton’s show. See how much more effective Nolte’s approach is (i.e., using the facts to back up one’s argument) than calling Ms. McCain “a 300 pound whore who should take a bottle of pills and kill herself” is? I rest my case.
Now, I realize that Meghan McCain frequently plays useful idiot for the left by going on MSNBC and saying rather catty things about the Palins, Michelle Bachman, the Tea Party, etc.–and, I wrote a very detailed column where I called her out on her bad behavior….and I did it without resorting to any personal attacks on Ms. McCain’s appearance. (However, I think that Meghan McCain is very attractive, so the above offensive Tweets don’t even make any sense to me.) So, by all means, if a liberal or a RINO on MSNBC is behaving badly, then don’t hesitate to point out their bad behavior–just don’t emulate their bad behavior (or behave even worse yourself).
4.) Don’t eat your own–you’re wasting valuable time and energy.
During the recent Republican primary, I saw the following comments with regard to Mitt Romney littering the internet: “I will NEVER vote for Mitt Romney for president”, “Mitt Romney is a weirdo”, “Mormonism is a cult”, “Mitt Romney hates the poor and likes to fire people”, “Mitt Romney engaged in vulture capitalism”, “Mitt Romney is an animal abuser”….and these comments/sentiments were ALL made on conservative blogs! Look, I get it that people want to shill for or strongly support their candidate of choice and explain why the other guys are unacceptable. However, there is a big difference between supporting your candidate with gusto and demonizing the guy he’s running against. For example, if a person was a Rick Perry supporter, he or she could point out that Rick Perry had more experience and a better jobs record as governor, and that Romneycare was a bad idea…or if he or she happened to be a Newt Gingrich supporter, a good tactic might be to tout Gingrich’s fiery debate performances as a big plus for going up against Barack Obama. See, it is completely possible to explain why your guy is better than the alternative without going nuclear on the alternative. Bottom line, the guy you’re demonizing as Mephistopheles today might be the guy that you have to help get elected tomorrow….not to mention, everything that you write on the interwebs is permanent, so people can go look and see that you said a few months ago that you would NEVER vote for the guy that is now your party’s nominee.
Furthermore, now because of such a vicious primary season filled with personal attacks (many of them that sounded like they came from the left), Mitt Romney had to start out his general election campaign from a position of weakness instead of from a position of strength and waste valuable time explaining away bogus charges (for example, that he engaged in “vulture capitalism”), instead of immediately leaping into general election mode. And, in the game of politics, you always want your candidate/nominee to start out from a position of strength–whoever he or she might turn out to be.
5.) Stay away from conspiracy theories.
I really don’t think that I need to spill too much ink explaining why it’s a bad idea to toy around with conspiracy theories. Just Google Donald Trump/Barack Obama/Birtherism or Dan Rather/Bush National Guard if you don’t believe me. Conspiracy theories may be fun to ignite for the moment, but eventually, they will blow up in your face like a stick of dynamite does to Wile E. Coyote every darn time.
So, in conclusion, I am not suggesting that we don’t be committed–or even ruthless–when we play the game of politics. I’m only suggesting that we play the game smart and that we play to win. And, to play to win, we must not let ourselves get sidetracked or distracted. Remember, the actual prize, (or throne, if you will) is winning the White House–not winning an almost week long Twitter war with Meghan McCain or some other RINO from MSNBC. Furthermore, I am also suggesting that we not waste too much time whining about how “liberals get a free pass for their bad behavior, so therefore, we should also be allowed to engage in bad behavior”. Two wrongs don’t make a right; moreover, people follow leaders–not whiners. Let’s lead by example and win back the White House come November. Let’s play the game of politics to win.