Friday, December 13, 2013

On budget deal, conservatives should take a lesson from Sam Houston

File:General Sam Houston, the hero of San Jacinto.jpgYesterday’s vote on a budget framework—which passed with broad bipartisan support—did not a produce a very good deal at all if your blood runs Crimson Red. It trades spending today for “cuts” tomorrow, a shenanigan that Congress routinely employs in order to say that they’re reducing the deficit when they actually aren’t.

About ten weeks ago, bona fide conservatives in Congress outmaneuvered the establishment leadership and pushed a government shutdown over a legitimate, sensible and prescient effort to defund Obamacare.

That proved to be a political and tactical mistake, even though it was based on sound policy.

At the same time, the HealthCare.gov rocket exploded on the launchpad, and conservatives were handed a rallying point that will resonate (almost) as musically as “REMEMBER THE ALAMO!” And that’s probably going to be true through the 2014 November midterm elections.

I agree with Heritage, FreedomWorks, Sean Hannity, Erick Erickson and the horde of bona fide conservative pundits who decried the budget deal hacked out by bona fide conservative Paul Ryan and not-quite-as-liberal as we thought Patty Murray. Good deal? Hell no. The best we can get on this battlefield? Probably so.

If you know me well, you know that I am a staunch, dyed-in-the-wool conservative. I named this website “I Bleed Crimson Red” for a reason. But I am also a realist, and I know when to fight and when to withdraw.

As a student of History, this is where I believe the lesson so aptly taught by Sam Houston comes in. In 1836, Houston, with a poorly trained, poorly equipped and vastly outnumbered force of volunteers, repeatedly retreated rather than fight the Mexican Army in the struggle to liberate Texas. His apparent refusal to take a stand and fight the demonstrably brutal General Antonio López de Santa Anna dismayed his officers and political supporters, but it was an effort to buy time and avoid a crushing defeat. Santa Anna had already overrun and massacred the defenders at the Alamo near San Antonio, and had ordered the mass execution of approximately 300 to 400 members of the Texas Militia at Goliad.

Houston wanted to fight on his terms, not Santa Anna’s, so he waited until Santa Anna made a mistake. Santa Anna did just that—dividing his forces in an attempt to surround Houston’s growing force of Militia and well trained regulars.

At the battle of San Jacinto, Houston made his move. In about 20 minutes’ time, Houston’s forces surprised and overwhelmed Santa Anna’s, ending the struggle and forcing Santa Anna into signing the treaty of Velasco, ending Mexican rule of Texas and paving the way for Texas to join the United States of America.

What can be learned from this, in the context of the current political struggle to wrest control of this great country from the grip of the brutally oppressive leftists?

In warfare and politics, it’s important to choose your battles wisely. Don’t strike when your enemy is strong and you are not. This is a divided government, but conservatives have control of only one house of Congress. No stand taken on principle has a prayer in hell of getting adopted and made the law of the land.

Bide your time. Consolidate your forces. Let your opponent make a mistake. The more arrogant and self-confident your opponent—as both General Santa Anna and Democrats (along with a sycophantic media) are—the more likely it is that your opponent will make a mistake that neither he nor his allies saw coming.

That mistake is the three-and-a-half-year-old, completely botched and utterly disastrous Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “ObamaCare.” The rollout of the website was only a hint of the damage that is to come to President Obama and Congressional Democrats. In 2014, it’s going to prove to be as disastrous to their election prospects as Santa Anna’s foolish decision to divide his forces was to his attempt to maintain control of Texas.

The budget deal that passed the House yesterday—and which will almost certainly pass the Senate next week—was bad policy. But it’s good politics to let it pass, and it’s good tactics. A much more lucrative opportunity lies less than one year ahead. Napoleon Bonaparte famously advised that when your enemy is in the process of destroying himself, it is wise not to interfere. Sam Houston understood that message.

Conservatives should, also.

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