The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Right-wings' foot soldiers breaking ranks

I can't remember who said this, so I'm going to have to paraphrase in a big way. The reason the Roman empire became so vast wasn't because they were the strongest, the smartest, the most fierce in battle or the most cunning, but because they were the most organized.

That's what we've seen time and again in the GOP victory strategy. From the top White House officials, down through the high-profile pundits, and on to the lowliest bloggers and College Republicans, message discipline has been the key.

A sterling example is the "Schiavo memo" which Florida Republican Mel Martinez accidentally handed to a Democratic senator. The one that suggested the Schiavo case would be an excellent political issue to club Democrats with.

Within a twenty four hour period, I marvelled as the story unfolded and the party line went from A) it was a forgery by some wily Democrat, to B) Martinez had it, but didn't even know it existed among all the other papers in his hand, to C) it was the work of one over-zealous staffer (a bad apple, if you will). And from top to bottom, the entire right wing deftly switched the narrative and threw their full weight behind each successive claim.

Aside from the sleaziness of it and the disregard for what actually happened, it's an impressive show of organization. But for the first time that I can remember under the reign of Bush II, there's confusion from top to bottom. The generals in the White House are nowhere to be seen, DeLay and Frist have been defanged, and that's left the pundits, Fox anchors and bloggers in a state of utter confusion.

Every once in a while, I'll pull one of military history analogies out of my butt, but an example of organization saving the day is the revolt of Boudicaa in Roman-controlled Britain. Her forces of 100,000 or more were crushed by a Roman force of some 5,000. And it was for two simple reasons. The Romans chose the terrain, and the troops were utterly disciplined. The rebellion broke like water on rocks against the tight Roman wedge formation.

The last week, where no-one can decide which corrupt GOP leader to defend and which to cut loose, has shown that once they lose party discipline, they don't have anything to fall back on. That they can be beaten, turned against one another, and thrown into disarray. The big question-- since it's largely because of their own corrupt leadership-- is how can we get them to do that?