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Ten pages into David Horowitz’s new book Take No Prisoners: The Battleplan for Defeating the Left (Regnery, 2014), I realize putting dog-ears on pages with important quotes for this review is hopeless. I’ve placed a dog-ear on every page. By the end, the whole book might be dog-eared.

If there was a single book to add to the swag-bag for the attendees at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Take No Prisoners is the book. Not only is the book helpful in understanding the modern political battlespace, as Horowitz makes clear throughout, the delegates who will be in Cleveland are sorely in need of help.

Many still think elections are won or lost because one side has better ideas than the other. Election losers convinced that they had better ideas harbor all sorts of excuses for their loss — the media, economic earthquakes, silly character attacks.

Recall in 2012 the relentless and unopposed effort to define Mitt Romney as beholden to the richest of the rich, out of touch with most Americans. Republicans delivered wet noodle complaints that the attacks were “class warfare” and “divisive.” Horowitz:

These were weak and whiny responses, all too familiar from previous Republican campaigns. Common to both was failure to address the specific charges . . . The term “class warfare” is a polite way of discussing a real problem, namely leftist agendas in national politics. But politeness protects others – in this case, opponents who are busy defaming you as mean spirited and selfish. . . it fails to hold your adversaries accountable for what they have actually done and are likely to continue doing if elected.

And what of the zinger that Obama was “divisive?” Horowitz:

Complaining about “divisive politics” is not only futile, it is incomprehensible. Elections are by nature divisive. They are competitions between winners and losers. They are about defeating opponents. Why wouldn’t they be divisive??

The strongest part of Take No Prisoners, is how Horowitz matches his skill as a word-smith with real campaign choices. Every Horowitz book is characterized by brilliant writing, and sharp word choices. Take No Prisoners is about how Republicans have dropped the ball on writing the national narrative, and how they can get it back by crafting words and tactics that counter the left’s mastery of the process.

Many in the GOP and conservative movement might not like the taste of Horowitz’s medicine. A party raised on the primacy of ideas and policies will feel uncomfortable with the smashmouth suggestions in Take No Prisoners. I’ve heard the complaints — ‘we don’t want to become them’ — a complaint more convenient when the threats to liberty were less advanced. It’s also a complaint that misses the mark as a matter of fact:

Behind Republican failures at the ballot box is an attitude that reflects an administrative rather than political approach to election campaigns. Republicans focus on policy proposals rather than electoral combat and the threat posed by their opponents. Administrative politicians are more comfortable with budgets and pie-charts than with the flesh and blood victims of their opponent’s policies and ideas. When Republicans do appeal to the victims of Democrat’s policies, those victims are frequently small business owners and other job creators – people who in the eyes of most Americans are rich.

At the root of this strategic mistake is the belief among many Republicans that the two parties still share the same goals, but have divergent ways to get there. News flash: Democrats like John F. Kennedy and Scoop Jackson no longer exist. The Democrats have been taken over by messianic progressives seeking to craft the world in their own image. “Republicans do not hope to change the world. They are too mindful of the human catastrophes that have been brought about by those who do,” the former Communist Horowitz writes because he knows it all too well.

As a result of this attitude, conservative’s emotions are not inflamed as progressives’ are when confronting those with whom they disagree. The conservative instinct is to search for common ground and to arrive at practical measures to address public problems. That is why they take a lot of time explaining to voters how their proposals might work. But by the time they reach them, many voters are not listening.

This may be the central dividing line between the establishment and the Tea Party — a division Horowitz notes is more a question of tactics than goals.

I regularly encounter this aversion to the fight, despite the fact I receive emails and expressions of thanks from lawyers across Holder’s Justice Department. Lawyers trapped inside DOJ are filled with gratitude that I (and a few others) aggressively shine a light on Holder’s misbehavior and radicalism. Some GOP alumni of the DOJ grumble that it hurts the institution or goes too far.  But the good people still trapped inside a radicalized Justice Department, who see the disappearance of standards which governed the place for decades, are thankful. Even leaders of the Department of Justice during the age of Reagan are on the side of sunshine, not in the camp of those giving Eric Holder quarter. Horowitz didn’t name his book Take no Prisoners by accident.

Capture

Horowitz’s prescription: 1) Put the aggressors on defense. 2) Throw their victims in their faces. 3) Start the campaign now because they already have.

Horowitz dissects the left’s machine — not just the electoral tactics from the 2012 election and the inadequate GOP response, but the interplay between narrative, words, tactics, and ultimately questions involving race.

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Top Rated Comments   
Not having read Horowitz' book he may address this question: I'm all for fighting and attacking the lies, hypocrisy and manipulation by the Left to maintain their growing population on their plantation of victims and dependents. But realize, the conservative combatants are fighting an asymmetrical battle against the Leftist axis of the media, the academy, the race grievance industry, the apparatus of the regulatory state and elected politicians cultivating dependence with government handouts.

With a steady stream of new voters who can vote themselves benefits and a corrupted and co-opted media acting as the propaganda arm of the Executive branch the battlefield is tilted. Would-be conservative fighters are forced to make life-changing decisions when deciding to engage and attack - for they and in many cases their family, their business, and their associates will risk the overwhelming onslaught of coordinated media and state power against them.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
OMG - I hear this all the time from those on the right: we can't let ourselves become like they are. Are you kidding me?????????? Obama said it best: they bring a knife, we'll bring a gun. Conservatives and Republicans have been bringing a broken rusty butter knife to the fight for as long as I have noticed. Reagan was able to thwart them somewhat because those were gentler times and he had a natural talent for the witty riposte. You would think at this point after all the ridicule, the lies, the smashmouth tactics that the right would be aching to return the fire. What is the firewall? They are too afraid of the press and its portrayal of them. They are being nice so no one will say bad things about them. They do anyway! I have yet to see a bare knuckled all out sucker punch brawl with the right getting just as down and dirty as the left. They take it to the edge sometimes and then pull back because someone or many in the media will start. Look what happened to Palin. If it wasn't there, they made it up. We need to get down, get filthy, and start stomping on the their stupid faces. How polite will things be when the left takes it all, you dumb right wingers? Shoot the Marquess of Queensberry already.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (43)
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I see the issue as a moral issue. If Republicans or anyone else has any chance of opposing the left, the left must be shown for what they are, evil. Sure, republicans are not entirely innocent by any means but they need to distinguish themselves on the basis of what is moral and right.
Is it right to bankrupt the nation for any reason? then why are we spending so much more than what the nation can afford? Is it more moral to force Americans into Obama-care against their will or is there a more generous or affordable alterative?
If Americans who care about the future can stick with what is the right thing to do the left can be defeated in America. Paint as evil that which is evil and paint what is good as good. it really is as simple as that. It is something that cannot be defeated unless the nation is totally evil. I do not believe it is.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Horowitz is missing the big picture. It would have made NO DIFFERENCE how many "witty ripostes" the limp Romney had thrown back at Obama. THEY NEVER WOULD HAVE BEEN GIVEN ENOUGH ATTENTION IN THE MEDIA TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

The left make stupid comments all the time and the opposition make jokes about them ,but they fall down the memory hole. Virtually nobody outside the political right ever even mentions Pelosi's "You have to pass it to see what's in it" even though plenty of clever jokes were made about it.

On the other hand Palin's nonexistent remark about seeing Russia from her house is believed to be true by millions because of all the exposure it got. The problem is media outlets. Does the opposition party even HAVE a long-range media plan?
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Horowitz is a great fighter, but I don't think that the GOP can win by acting like lefties. Our voters just aren't tribal in the way that African Americans, unions, feminists and gays are, and I don't think our voters and independents will ever respond enthusiastically to tribal attacks on other Americans.

Then there is the race question. Don't forget that in 2008/2012 the MSM would have been delighted, given half a chance, to spend the whole of September and October parsing the GOP candidates' words for racism towards America's First Black President. If they had an excuse to do it, it would have hurt the GOP vote totals.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Karl Rove will make sure no Republican gets to read Horowitz's book.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
And, he will accomplish this... how?
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Could we really stoop as low as leftists? Could we urge mob violence against an innocent person, like Warren or Zimmerman? Could we lie and distort as fluently as the MSM? Could we deny the plain facts in front of our faces as easily as liberals?

Who volunteers to be our Al Sharpton, our Jesse Jackson, our Eric Holder, our Sirhan Sirhan?

Tough choices ahead folks.

17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Many in the GOP and conservative movement might not like the taste of Horowitz’s medicine. A party raised on the primacy of ideas and policies will feel uncomfortable with the smashmouth suggestions in Take No Prisoners."

“I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary but slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat.” John Milton

17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
The backstabbing and undermining started when William F. Buckley and Barry Goldwater turned on the John Birch Society, and sought to ostracize it....thus sidelining a serious conservative grass roots movement, thus ensuring a long delay in Conservatives gaining political power at the National level.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
They are attempting to do the same thing to the Tea Party.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Good people are not trapped inside the Dept of Justice. There're free to go. It is the people on the outside who are trapped by government.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sorry, you don't win a war - physical, political, rhetorical or spiritual - by playing to the other side's strengths and pretending you can beat them at their own game. They've had almost a century to rig that game. All of this "take no prisoners" bluster is just tribalism dressed up in self-righteous indignation. Unlike the rank-and-file left, conservatives are not moral adolescents and will never successfully function as moral adolescents.

Unsurprisingly, it sounds like Red Diaper Baby Horowitz is demanding exactly that prescription.

Thanks, no.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Lawyers trapped inside DOJ are filled with gratitude that I (and a few others) aggressively shine a light on Holder’s misbehavior and radicalism."

An analogous statement from Alexander Hamilton, August 13, 1782...

"As to the people, in the early periods of the war, near on half of them were avowedly more attached to Great Britain than to their liberty, but the energy of the government has subdued all opposition. The State by different means has been purged of a large part of its malcontents; but there still remains, I dare say, a third, whose secret wishes are on the side of the enemy; the remainder sigh for peace, murmur at taxes, clamor at their rulers, change one incapable man for another more incapable, and, I fear, if left to themselves, would, too many of them, be willing to purchase peace at any price-not from inclination to Great Britain or disaffection to independence, but from mere supineness and avarice."

-To Robert Morris. Hamilton Papers, 1st.ser.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
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