Monday, August 04, 2008

Obama Be

Team Obama has figured out a way to stop his slide in the polls. Summer Camp.

The BHO campaign has sent out emails to me and probably millions of other lucky recipients encouraging us to sign up for a local "Camp Obama" (,, a two-day session where we'd learn how to be effective organizers for the campaign. Hopefully a citizen reporter will sign up to report back with a critical eye, but for now all we have are the positive and very many negative connotations brought to mind. You can see a full copy of the email here, and if you want to be creeped out even more see the description of last year's "camps" here:
Rivals of Obama know that while he may at times appear to channel Martin Luther King Jr., his methods sometimes give evidence of his allegiance to [Saul Alinsky], who shunned starry-eyed idealists and recommended purging do-gooders from organizations. Alinsky wanted results. And his methods often forced the hands of elected officials... It's not enough to want to help others, [an Obama campaign staffer] says. These campers need to focus on people's self-interests. What do they want? How can Obama help them? ..."We want you to stop thinking about Barack Obama and be Barack Obama," she says.
Did some one say Clone Wars?

Obama has taken Mau-Mauing The Flak Catchers and turned it into a national campaign. Can you say reparations?

So let us have a look at Alinsky's handbook Rules For Radicals. Just so we can see the train coming and get off the tracks. Here is a list of the rules.
RULE 1:"Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have." Power is derived from 2 main sources - money and people. "Have-Nots" must build power from flesh and blood. (These are two things of which there is a plentiful supply. Government and corporations always have a difficult time appealing to people, and usually do so almost exclusively with economic arguments.)
That would explain a lot of the current campaign's dynamics. Obama is running on the idea that a lot of people fear being called racists. If that fear is not there then his campaign has no power. McCain has neutered that whole line of attack. It may play well among the latte liberals (Tom Wolfe called them the radical chic) but it will not play well against the original anti-slavery party (Abe Lincoln was a Republican).

RULE 2: "Never go outside the expertise of your people." It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone. (Organizations under attack wonder why radicals don't address the "real" issues. This is why. They avoid things with which they have no knowledge.)
This would explain Obama's One note campaign: "I'm Black. Vote for me or we will brand you a racist." All his other policy positions are amendable (see flip-flop, Obama). Obama might not know math, science, economics, or any number of other things. He does know race and so does his base.

RULE 3: "Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy." Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)
Again. This may work for latte liberals but Clinton supporters (whose husband was touted as the first "black" President) are not buying it. Did I mention that Republicans were the original anti-racist party?

RULE 4: "Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules." If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules. (This is a serious rule. The besieged entity's very credibility and reputation is at stake, because if activists catch it lying or not living up to its commitments, they can continue to chip away at the damage.)
There may be racists in the Republican Party (as there are racists in the Democrat Party). McCain is not one of them. His strength is as the strength of ten because his heart is pure.

RULE 5: "Ridicule is man's most potent weapon." There is no defense. It's irrational. It's infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions. (Pretty crude, rude and mean, huh? They want to create anger and fear.)
This has been turned against Obama with McCain's "Paris Hilton" ad and his "The One" ad.

RULE 6: "A good tactic is one your people enjoy." They'll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They're doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones. (Radical activists, in this sense, are no different that any other human being. We all avoid "un-fun" activities, and but we revel at and enjoy the ones that work and bring results.)
Evidently the Obama Campaign and his mighty minions love calling people racists. I don't see any fun in that. Only sadness. However, to each his own.

RULE 7: "A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag." Don't become old news. (Even radical activists get bored. So to keep them excited and involved, organizers are constantly coming up with new tactics.)
So far the Obama campaign has been a one note campaign. Besides any tactic that is over used wears out its welcome. The "cry wolf" syndrome. I wonder which way they can turn now? The post racialist candidate has been branded a racialist. Where do they go from here?

RULE 8: "Keep the pressure on. Never let up." Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new. (Attack, attack, attack from all sides, never giving the reeling organization a chance to rest, regroup, recover and re-strategize.)
Well they have to find pressure points. Places where the pressure is effective. So what are Obama's choices? Anti-surge? The surge is working. McCain was way out front on that one. More drilling for oil? McCain was at least a month ahead of Obama on that one and Obama's statement was not unequivocal. He wants limited drilling. McCain placed no such limits on his policy. Higher taxes? That has been death for any candidate pushing that proposition hard. So what can he come up with that will keep his team on side and make advances on his opposition? This is going to be interesting to watch.

RULE 9: "The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself." Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist. (Perception is reality. Large organizations always prepare a worst-case scenario, something that may be furthest from the activists' minds. The upshot is that the organization will expend enormous time and energy, creating in its own collective mind the direst of conclusions. The possibilities can easily poison the mind and result in demoralization.)
Ah yes. "We will call you a racist if you keep attacking our positions. How is that working out Barry? That threat is gone. He is going to have to come up with a new one. Fear of labeling McCain a war monger? I think Obama is weak on that. He called for pulling out of Iraq and attacks on Pakistan in August of 2007. He labeled McCain McSame. So what has Bush done? Well he has attacked the terrorists in Pakistan and threatened further attacks if Pakistan didn't straighten out. Preempting Obama's whole line on that front. I wonder if Bush and McSame are working together? They are both Republicans. What are the odds? In any case warmongering does not play well to Obama's base. He will have to tread lightly. So far he has not come out with "we were right all along" on this one. No need to remind the base about it, because for him it is a double edged sword.

RULE 10: "If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive." Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog. (Unions used this tactic. Peaceful [albeit loud] demonstrations during the heyday of unions in the early to mid-20th Century incurred management's wrath, often in the form of violence that eventually brought public sympathy to their side.)
How is that racism thing working out? McCain has refused to take the bait. In turn he has counter attacked making Obama look obsessed with race. And he is obsessed with race. Just read his books.

RULE 11: "The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative." Never let the enemy score points because you're caught without a solution to the problem. (Old saw: If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. Activist organizations have an agenda, and their strategy is to hold a place at the table, to be given a forum to wield their power. So, they have to have a compromise solution.)
Of course the alternative to racism is the post racialist candidate. Obama needed to present himself as anti-racist not anti-white. He screwed the pooch on that one with this primary attacks on Clinton. Ooops.

RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)
Well he has gone after McCain in particular AND the Republicans in general. McCain blunted the attack, and counter attacked. Republicans are not buying it at all.

McCain, the fighter pilot, has gotten inside Obama's OODA loop. Something the Navy teaches fighter pilots to do.
The OODA Loop, often called Boyd's Cycle, is a creation of Col. John Boyd, USAF (Ret.). Col. Boyd was a student of tactical operations and observed a similarity in many battles and campaigns. He noted that in many of the engagements, one side presented the other with a series of unexpected and threatening situations with which they had not been able to keep pace. The slower side was eventually defeated. What Col. Boyd observed was the fact that conflicts are time competitive.
Elections are nothing if they are not time competitive. Evidently the "freezing of the opponent" that Alinsky recommends has not worked on McCain. He was not frozen. Once that happened McCain was operating inside Obama's decision loop.

Evidently Boyd is beating Alinsky. Or to put it another way. The fighter pilot is beating the community organizer. As a Navy man myself, I'm not surprised.

Cross Posted at Classical Values


vnjagvet said...

Great work. Boyd's loop is applicable to a lot of areas. Although Alinsky is talented, I believe that Boyd's work is more universal.

I am prejudiced, though, by the fact Boyd grew up a block away from my childhood home in Erie, Pa.

One of his mentors, his HS swimming coach Art Weible was my swimming coach and mentor as well.

Boyd has become one of my heroes.

Soylent Red said...

Terrific piece.

As vnjagvet points out, Boyd can be applied to almost any conflict situation. It stands to reason that McCain would not only know about him, but apply his theories.

The real payoff of Boyd's loop, in this case, happens as time progresses. Watch for the unforced errors from Barry's camp to intensify and become more frequent as we get closer to November.

linearthinker said...

Ha. All the above beat me to it. Another great job, Simon.