The Corner

Return of the Whipsaw

Andy: Second the motion re the media-fueled feeding frenzy over the Politico/Cain story. What we’re witnessing here is a classic ambush-and-pincer operation, the kind the warmed-over hacks from the Washington Post, Time and elsewhere who populate Politico have been pulling for years. When even Pro Publica questions the sourcing of a story, you know you’re looking at a hit job that would make a self-respecting assassin like Sparafucile blush at its audacious unprofessionalism. 

Yep, it’s the good ol’ whipsaw again:

First, posit the existence of a “story” as defined by Politico’s editors — doesn’t matter whether it’s true, relevant, or even recent. Actions that may have been acceptable, or at least non-actionable, in the past, no matter how long ago, can be re-framed in the context of current “morality,” and thus employed as handy blunt objects, journalistically speaking. In the Kafkaesque world of the Left, Josef K. is always guilty of something, with the media happily acting as the Committee of Affairs.

Second, ambush the candidate (in this case, a novice unused to the poisonous ways of the Washington press corps) to get him on the record regarding the “charges,” which establishes the baseline reaction narrative against which all subsequent statements can be compared and adjudged deviational. You may now discard the original story, since in the immortal words of Newsweek regarding the Hitler Diaries, “genuine or not, it almost doesn’t matter in the end.”

Third, attack any subsequent statements as that most ominous of developments, “changing the story.”

Fourth, watch with pleasure as the victim’s allies edge away from him (after all, it’s not the truth that matters, it’s the seriousness of the charge), and he starts to founder, the latest victim of the scorpion’s bite. 

Congratulations — you’ve just effected the Apostle Saul’s famous Rule No. 13: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” And that’s what’s happening to Herman Cain right now.

Don’t you wish our side could fight like that? As some idiot wrote in Rules for Radical Conservatives

* Call us out every chance you get. Personalize the target, freeze it, polarize it – go ahead, give it a try. Two can play that game! Because what happens when you do this? Well, your instinct is immediately to apologize, grovel and promise never to let it happen again. Our reaction is to snarl, snap, bark and, when necessary, bite. We become the unloveliest of unlovely people (I’m sure you can think of many current examples.) Punctuate that unctuous, self-righteous “argument from authority,” the everybody-knows-this subsumation we always trot out before the discussion is even held. Challenge the sense of entitlement, which often cloaks itself in victimhood, mostly imagined, since Harvard-education lawyers really have a hard time playing the victim card. In other words, turn Alinsky’s fourth and fifth tactical rules – Make your enemy live up to their own book of rules and Ridicule is man’s most important weapon — against us; make us live up to our absurd preachments and ridicule us when we don’t. We hate it when that happens.

It’s about time somebody on our side starting paying attention.

Michael Walsh — Mr. Walsh is the author of the novels Hostile Intent and Early Warning and, writing as frequent NRO contributor David Kahane, Rules for Radical Conservatives.


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