How To Be Right: The Art of Being Persuasively Correct (2015)
FIND THE RIGHT’S OBAMA
2016, for the right, is not simply about being right. It’s about being persuasively right. You cannot win without first winning over Americans (or at least the ones who vote). When was the last time we did that?
In a pre-Internet era, some of our current crop of candidates would have been excellent choices. And conversely, in this Internet world of today, absolutely no president prior to Obama would run or win. JFK? Are you kidding? How long before every single rumor saturated the Web? There’d be no Nixon (too weird, swarthy, and mean), no Carter (too goofy and reckless), no Clinton (he screwed everyone on the planet except Sears mannequins, and we aren’t even sure about that, because they aren’t talking), and no Reagan (too old, too inflexible, and too frightening—which is why we need him so badly now).
Before the Internet, anyone could be president! Hell, even the director of pediatric neurosurgery at a major hospital could be a candidate! A guy who’s known for separating conjoined twins? Operating on babies’ brains—and pretty damn good at conservative political commentary? Cancel the election, and move Ben Carson in, for God’s sake.
But a candidate who compares America to Nazi Germany? Or says homosexuality is a choice? That’s a problem (sorry, Ben). Before the Web, that gaffe would have popped up, then disappeared. But now everything is forever—especially herpetic flare-ups of cable-ready gaffes.
Granted, the left has been spewing hyperbole for years—and we are just catching up—but conservatives have bigger targets on their backs because the media, being liberal, paints those targets and carries the ammo. We have to be better than that. And the first rule of “better” is: no Nazi analogies. It makes you worse than Hitler.
PRESIDENTS WHO WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN PRESIDENT HAD THERE BEEN AN INTERNET
1.George Washington: wooden teeth, slave owner, powdered wig. Twitter would have eaten him alive.
2.Calvin Coolidge: too remote. Not interested in updating Facebook page. Refuses to live-tweet the Oscars.
3.FDR: TMZ would run pictures of him in his wheelchair.
4.Harry Truman: too mean. “Give ’em hell” is hurtful. Why not “give ’em hugs”?
Memorable hyperbole that lands cable talk show hosts dozens of blog hits is no measure of success. Not even for cable talk show hosts. Leaders must be less Morton Downey Jr. and more Margaret Thatcher. However, given the bottomless pit of bandwidth, the desire to be noticed pushes both leaders and modest TV talents toward the former rather than the latter. They wish to startle and shock, rather than explain persuasively. Downey shouted and screamed—a precursor to so many ills we see today. Thatcher projected substance with a measured delivery that remained memorable without the need for silly shock value. Shock is for those cobbling a career in broadcasting. An idiot can do that. I’m living proof. Thatcher’s persuasiveness is the reason the Left is still marginalized in England, to this day.
The 2014 midterm elections were known for a number of amazing things. To me, it was the quiet kid in the back of the class finally beating the crap out of the arrogant bully after six years of relentless taunting. That kid was the American voter, and that bully was a media who protected Obama at all costs. Funny how a left and a media obsessed with the “epidemic” of bullying don’t mind contributing to it.
Great candidates won. Jerks lost. Lightweight activists like Sandra Fluke were soundly humiliated. Joni Ernst—the anti-Fluke—won big. (Maybe I am wrong—maybe there is a God.) Favoring balanced budgets, federal tax reform, partial privatization of Social Security, Ernst favored bottom lines over picket lines. That’s honest-to-God real feminism.
Charlie Crist—that Star Trek villain from Planet Orange—was rejected yet again (time for this irradiated loser to begin his late night infomercial career already). Harry Reid was bounced as Senate majority leader. Now he can return to doing what he does best (voicing Saturday morning cartoons as a ghost bunny). Wendy Davis got rolled by a guy in a wheelchair—the same guy she targeted for being in a wheelchair. One of her organizers tweeted that any woman who didn’t vote for her should “fall off the face of the earth.” The result? Wendy Davis, politically, fell off the face of the earth.
Of course, the biggest defeat—and humiliation—belongs to the media, whose cocooning of their chosen one, Obama, made him so vulnerable. Without criticism, or fear of it, Obama reveled in his own self-regard, inured to the consequences of his own ambivalence. He was the star of the big-budget movie that everyone knows is a flop but no one wants to break the news to him. He was the Johnny Depp of politics.
But in this tidal wave of Republican victories, did you see a trend? Or lack thereof?
I saw one: no gaffes. This was a new party. No old guys saying stupid shit. The press tried to find some, but they couldn’t. Sure, the boys at Comedy Central made fun of Joni Ernst and her “castrating pigs” video—failing to realize that’s why she won. Funny and memorable without being mean, shrill, or shocking—she pointed in a new direction.
The advice moving forward? A tidal wave is great, but it’s pointless if you don’t have the right surfer to ride the damn thing. That surfer has to be smart, careful, witty, and logical. He has to be the conservative version of Obama—a modernized Reagan—who can articulate great ideas all over again, as something new, and cherished. These are ideas to be embraced by everyone—from potheads to gays to Haitian Mormons to, of course, Hispanics.
SO HOW DID OBAMA WIN, REALLY?
First he was black.
Historical firsts are a great edge!
(I’m the first sequential hermaphrodite at Fox News Channel.)
But think about this: President Obama did not have a single new idea. In fact, his beliefs were no different from the parade of leftist failures before him. So how did he capture the nomination, then the presidency?
Obama did not throw bombs. He did not try to shock you. He did not wish to be memorable through reckless moments of unrestrained zeal. Through measured humor, charisma, and oratorical skill, he was able to camouflage straw as gold. And he won. Twice. I looked it up.
Of course, the media adored him like an adopted, adorable child from planet awesome—and any opposition to his ideas is labeled as racist, even heretical. (He also humorously indulged the right’s most manic conspiracies.)
The successful Republican candidate must be immune to the urge to surprise and shock, while also being memorable. When those two are confused—when one believes that to be remembered, you must be shocking—you lose elections (while gaining airtime at networks). Be meaningful, not just memorable.
There’s much to be done. But also undone.
For the Dems, the 2014 shellacking was merely a pause. The big counterattack was already in the works even as the media was preaching compromise.
OUR NEW FACES ARE BETTER THAN THEIR OLD FACES
Mia Love: She won—a new face for a changing party. She’s black, female, Haitian, Mormon. And Republican. All that’s missing is a dorsal fin and an antenna.
For the Dems, she’s scarier than global warming and long division combined. The woman is a demographic of one. Which just shows you: demographics means nothing. There are more Mia Loves to come. I can’t wait.
Tim Scott: The first black ever to win in both House and Senate…is a Republican. Did the NAACP take notice? Well, they did give the poor guy an F on their so-called report card. I assume it stands for “fantastic.” Or even more accurately, “feared.”
Marco Rubio: He’s Hispanic, has a bad part (hair-wise), but can talk unscripted better than anyone roaming the earth. He just needs to lighten up a little. He always looks like he’s about to complain about his rental car.
Scott Walker: Not black or brown, but he has balls the size of Pluto. If he’s not in the top tier of Republican candidates by the time this book is out, I’ll eat my hat (thankfully, my hat is made of Kobe beef).
Yeah—compromise. I love it when the guilty—the losers—preach compromise. It’s like an arsonist pleading for leniency because he accidentally torched his own place.
The right candidate is one who understands the terrain—that it’s tricky, set with traps, and designed to harm you, while also helping your adversary. Judging from 2014, the Repubs have learned not to screw up. Not to trip. Not to fall. I’m not sure whom to actually credit for this. Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus? I would, but I cannot pronounce his name (and I think it’s the medical term for a family of rashes, anyway). The next step is actually to walk. Their candidate for 2016 is the most important choice they’ve faced since 1980. After nearly eight years of punishing purgatory—where every day we as a country were reminded that we were paying some price for sins only our president and his closest confidants refuse to forgive—it’s time for a new voice, a new face, a new vision, one that not only reminds us of what we were, but points us in the direction of what we should become.
POLITICALLY INCORRECT OR JERKFACE?
(There’s a Difference)
In August, Donald Trump was set to speak at a conservative RedState gathering, but organizer Erick Erickson canceled him over Trump’s crude comments about a certain female debate moderator. I won’t get into the ugliness here, but feel free to use this thing called Google.
When Trump heard the news he tweeted this: “So many ‘politically correct’ fools in our country. We have to all get back to work and stop wasting time and energy on nonsense!”
For me, this defense has officially trumped the shark—for it undermines and abuses a legitimate, sound argument. Yes, it’s true that the PC movement stifles thoughts and punishes jokes. For decades, many writers and commentators have suffered the attacks from the politically correct—including myself. Hell, my book, The Joy of Hate, was a broadside against the tolerati—the narrow-minded thought fascists masking as compassionate crusaders. Trump now targets many of the writers who’ve fearlessly faced down the politically incorrect. Jonah Goldberg, Charles Krauthammer, Kevin Williamson—they were all there first when Trump was somewhere else. He should love those guys.
So, it’s officially time to ditch this “I’m just not PC” excuse once and for all. To claim that you’re leading the charge against intolerance, when you’re just saying shocking stuff is absurd. This is just a stance that’s comfortable, one that many other conservatives have been battling, far more persuasively, for years. We welcome allies to the battle, but only if they help win the damn argument. The best battle against the PC is brash, absurdist—but also smart—persuasion.
Wiser warriors against the factions of tolerance know one thing: Casting all vulgarity as anti-PC allows nonsense to masquerade as bravery. If someone gets upset because you denigrate a war veteran it’s not because the perturbed is PC and you’re bravely upsetting the timid apple cart. No—you’re just an asshole.
However, no one is telling Trump to shut up. We’re just saying you do not speak for us: especially when you say stuff we’d criticize if it had come from any of Alec Baldwin’s mouths (he has three).
You are entitled to make fun of “captured” soldiers, and women and their silly hormones—but do not mistake it for some brave resistance to the PC movement. The PC movement silences voices by attacking intent—whether it’s good or bad. The way to vanquish the PC brigade is not by validating their accusations of sexism and vulgarity by fulfilling the worst stereotypes of sexism and vulgarity.
Using the defense that you’re politically incorrect when you’re just crude only feeds the enemy who wants to destroy you. And for Republicans—when a leading candidate forces you to explain his every careless word, you lose.
Conservatives need a leader who can explain himself, not one who requires explaining. To be persuasively correct, it helps to be persuasive AND correct. Oh, and conservative, too.
THE FAREWELL OBAMA TRANSLATOR
An unfond look back at the language no one still believed or really understood.
Hope and change = punishment for the past
“We can do better as a nation” = “Be more like me”
“Fair share” = We took more of your money
“Everyone gets a fair shot” = Then we took more of your money
“Extraordinary” = Bullshit
“It’s the right thing to do” = I have no evidence so take my word for it
“Now let me be clear” = I’m thinking of something
“Think of our children and our children’s children” = Children are great props—unless they’re unborn, of course!
“Going forward” = I am running over you