WaPo’s Mark Thiessen: TEA Party needs a General Washington
Discounting for a moment the appeal to the leader of a revolutionary army in making an appeal for TEA Partiers to take fewer risks and fight smarter, let’s just take a quick look at the premise, as summarized in an email I received:
ICYMI, my new Washington Post column "The Tea Party needs a General Washington." Washington refused to send his troops on suicide missions, picking smaller, winnable fights instead, and defeating the British in a war of attrition. That is the approach the Tea Party should have taken in the fight against Obamacare.
Marc A. Thiessen
Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
Columnist, The Washington Post
I wrote back, and this time, it really was a short response:
See, Trenton, Battle of
As most of you know, the Battle that turned the revolutionary war in the favor of the rebels occurred at Trenton, after Christmas night 1776, when Washington took troops — exhausted, hungry, many shoeless and in nothing by stockings, their feet wrapped in rags — across an icy Delaware river, surprised a groggy and hungover mercenary army of professional Hessian soldiers, and captured over 800 enemy soldiers and officers. The code words for the raid were “Victory or Death.”
It was, or at least potentially could have been, a suicide mission. The whole “or death” thing being a giveaway.
This is the art of the possible. This is the kind of brazen maneuver that defeats a complacent, arrogant opponent. And that history is being essentially rewritten here to suggest that waging war against the British Crown for an idea that had never been tried in human history is a lesson that aligns with GOP establishment pragmatism and persistent surrender is, in a word, astounding.
The art of possible? How about a raid on Trenton so unimaginable — and so unlikely to succeed — that confident professional soldiers took to partying all night instead of guarding against an incursion by rebels.
None of which is to say that every battle needs to be fought this way, or will succeed against such odds. Only that pragmatism is not only about always falling back. Sometimes, the pragmatic move is to make sure everyone knows where you stand, what you’re willing to do to take that stand, the odds you’re willing to fight, and that the tut-tutting of the professionally risk-averse and entrenched power brokers won’t dissuade you from taking that stand.
Ted Cruz and Mike Lee have made it quite clear that it is the TEA Party and the grass-roots “extremists” — the Hobbits, the “anarchists,” the wacko bird “arsonists,” the “terrorists” and “jihadis” bent on bringing about “default” by crazily arguing that egregious deficit spending is going to cause an economic collapse — who have been trying to keep the government from actually implementing a horrific and unwieldy law that will change the nature of the relationship between citizen and subject, allow the government overarching control of health care choices, and is bound — as it has always been — to cause harm, either through increased costs, delays in treatment, or a “fundamental transformation” of America into a permanent debtor nation headed toward single payer care that will, in the end, bring about the glorious Utopia of socialism (with the ruling class kept comfortable and fat, a reward for the difficult job of managing the herd, the “economic units” upon whom their schemes rely and upon whose labor and liberty they grow contented and secure).
And they did this against the wishes and will of their own contented Party, who thinks show votes and “deals” will fool us into thinking they are truly fighting for our interests.
What Thiessen is calling for here is not a TEA Party George Washington, therefore. He’s calling for a TEA Party John McCain. As if we don’t already have Kelly Ayotte or others who, once entrenched, disregarded the wishes of those who elected them to represent their liberties in order to fall in line with the feckless ruling elite.
Losing more slowly is still a strategy for losing. Sometimes, you just have to wrap up your feet, brave the sleet and ice, and tell the Hessians — and the King who controls them — to get the fuck out of your face.