One theme I stress is that conservatives need to get better at political warfare. A case in point is Newsweek/Daily Beast libertarian columnist, Megan McArdle. The recent grassroots effort to petition the White House to deport CNN’s arrogant toff, Piers Morgan, has apparently sent Ms. McArdle to the fainting couch.
“I hardly even know what to say about the petition to deport Piers Morgan, now at over 80,000 signatures.”
“I know that it is a tiny number of people who have signed the thing, compared to the actual population of the United States, but it's a little distressing that even a tiny number of Americans don't know that in this country, we don't use the law to punish people for speaking their minds.”
Oh really? American’s aren’t punished for speaking their minds? Earth to Megan: it happens all the time.
McArdle then goes on to mention a Communist Chinese law that prohibits criticizing the constitution.
With opinion leaders as clueless about political tactics as her, it is no wonder the GOP lost the recent elections.
At the beginning of her piece, she links to a post by pro-Second Amendment scholar Eugene Volokh who explains the non-existence of the legal case for deporting Piers Morgan. Normally, Eugene Volokh is a solid guy, but, like Megan, he is too technocratic to see the forest through the trees. The purpose of the petition isn’t to deport Piers Morgan. Its purpose is to bloody his nose, to knock the wind out of his sails, to make him look foolish. In short, to deliver him a moral defeat.
It is a skirmish in a larger war. Here’s the thing Megan and Eugene don’t seem to understand: before new laws are passed, there is political debate. This debate can be thought of as political warfare, composed of a number of large and small battles.
Another skirmish in this war are the calls for David Gregory’s arrest, after he broke DC’s hi-cap magazine law on his show, Meet the Press. Gregory thought he had scored a point with his on-air stunt, but now he lives in fear of persecution.
The fact that the calls for Gregory’s prosecution are on more solid legal ground than those for Piers’ deportment is much less important than McArdle and Volokh think. What is important is to fight battles where you find them. If that White House petition didn’t happen, Piers Morgan would have won that battle.
Back when I was in university, left-wing student groups were trying to pass a $5 per year mandatory levy to fund OSSPIG (which I later found out was a left-wing slush fund controlled by Ralph Nader). Unfortunately for them, they faced some procedural obstacles. Their solution: a food fight at a Board of Trustees gala dinner. The food fight was juvenile and illegal. But after that, the Trustees were so shocked that they lowered the quorum required to pass the referendum. The result: the levy passed and every York University student must pay it.
The left Gets political warfare. Few on the right do.
CORRECTION: In a previous version of this post I incorrectly attributed Megan McArdle to The Atlantic, when in fact she had moved on to Newsweek/Daily Best since September of 2012.