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Ed Driscoll

Inverting The Clausewitz Clause

September 2nd, 2009 - 2:24 pm

Back in June, I wrote, “Roll Over Von Clausewitz, And Tell Clemenceau The News”:

A few months ago, President Obama was quoted as telling a Democratic congressman who was against the president’s “stimulus” plan, “Don’t think we’re not keeping score, brother.”

Coming from the president of the United States, and aimed at a member of his own party, that’s threatening stuff. But from remarks such as that to his repeated verbal attacks on Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and businesses in general, President Obama has demonstrated that he’s always eager to view American politics as the continuation of warfare by other means, to flip Von Clausewitz’s axiom on its head. Certainly class and culture warfare at least. It’s the Chicago way, after all.  And last year on the campaign trail, Obama more than once referred to “civilians” when discussing opponents whom he thought should not be publicly attacked in the legacy media political battlefield — but would tacitly leave to his surrogates to demonize.

Last month, David Horowitz wrote that he wasn’t surprised to see such tactics — it’s not just the Chicago way, it’s the Alinsky way. And today at Castle Argghhh! (“The home of Jonah’s Military Guys!”) blogger “Dusty” concurs with my original take:

In fact, I believe the Left in this country, who have for decades internalized the dictum that “the personal is the political,” have in essence inverted Clausewitz’s famous line that “War is politics by other means.” To many on the Left, and in the Democrat Party for that matter, it’s my impression that politics is war by other means. They take it very seriously whereas people like me, who love to discuss and argue politics, go about our business without getting excited about it as long as whoever’s in charge doesn’t impose him- or herself on my life TOO much.

To me, Obama’s emergence on the national stage is a distillation of the Van Jones meeting. Obama’s core supporters are those who think like Van, in their heart of hearts, and unfortunately have an occupant in the White House now who is on the same sheet of music. For years, they have behaved badly, but haven’t had the political power to achieve their vision. Now they do.

To millions of Americans, that now seems quite apparent and it has energizied them as few things can. I have NEVER gone to a townhall meeting, ever. But I did this time…and I was concerned enough to stand up in a crowd and talk. For me, that’s not a big deal (been there, done that a lot in my previous life) but for hundreds of speakers at this summer’s Congressional recess local meetings, it was–psychologically, most people are more afraid of that than they are of dying.

I think that’s what’s befuddling both the syncophantic press and many elected officials on the Democrat side of the aisle…where the hell did these people come from?!?

Tom Wolfe described one of the most visible early intersections of elite liberals and the kook fringe left in 1970′s Radical Chic. Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism spends a fair chunk of time discussing this era as well. In the first volume of the Age of Reagan (which covered 1964 to 1980), Steve Hayward discussed some of the radical staffers on George McGovern’s abortive 1972 campaign. Nearly forty years later, their successors are now very much on the inside looking out at an America they’ve loathed since at least their college days.