Monday, December 15, 2014

In warfare and politics, it is wise to choose your battles carefully.

clip_image001Sorry, Erick Erickson. Sorry, Sean Hannity. Sorry, Mark Steyn. Sorry, Mark Levin. Sorry, Rush Limbaugh.

You’re all wrong. The CROmnibus bill that is so vilified by pundits on the right doesn’t make for good policy. On that point, most people on the right can agree. I don’t like it either—it spends too much and doesn’t fix any of the myriad of problems this country faces going forward.

But two facts make passing the spending bill good politics. First, until this Congress adjourns, the GOP is a minority in the US Senate and there is still that recalcitrant demagogue in the White House. Republicans could have made a stand on principle by denying the President the funding he needs to effect his extra-constitutional XO on immigration. That’s a losing battle, and every sentient conservative knows it.

Second, what passed the Senate last weekend puts Barack Obama in an unwinnable position. He can veto the bill, which essentially shuts down the government. Or, he can sign it and allow the Dept. of Homeland Security to be funded until February, upon which he’ll be forced to either sign or veto a bill that defunds his lawless action. Either way, he can’t win. He gets defunded, heads or tails. And, by the time  Valentine’s Day-ish arrives, he’ll be facing the largest Republican majority in Congress since his Kenyan father was but a wee radical.

Sometimes, you have to trade part of the loaf so that you get to eat. Or, as I opined in last year’s post regarding the strategy and tactics of Sam Houston, you need to carefully choose when and where to fight your battles.


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.


The iconic pundits I mentioned above are as exasperated with the GOP leadership as Houston’s officers and supporters were in 1836.

I find it ironic that Texas Senator Ted Cruz led the battle against the CROmnibus. It’s almost as if the man hasn’t learned the lessons from his own state’s history. Sam Houston could have taken a stand on principle, but he knew that his troops would be destroyed and his cause lost if he stood on principle at the wrong time or the wrong place.

I am a big fan of Ted Cruz. The man speaks about the Constitution like it is the document that sets forth what the co-equal branches of government can and cannot do, which is exactly what the Constitution is. But you can’t fight every battle against a superior force, which is exactly what the GOP in this Congress faces. Taking a stand on principle against a foe with superior numbers and a tactical advantage might as well be facing a Santa Anna firing squad. You always lose.

Why sacrifice so much to gain so little? Why not wait, as Houston did, until your enemy is weak and makes a mistake? Why throw your advantage away now, when you can use it against a weakened enemy later?

In January, a new Congress will be seated. As noted above, it will be the largest Republican majority since before WWII. Before them almost immediately will be the issue of whether or not to fund President Obama’s reckless and irresponsible attempt to encroach on the powers of the Legislative Branch.

There is much work to be done between January 2015 and December 2016, including a new budget resolution that will be bitterly fought between the Capitol and the White House. In February 2015 however, there will be an even more bitter fight over the President’s lawlessness, and choosing that San Jacinto that was the right strategy.

There’s an old saying: When a bear and an alligator do battle, the victor is determined by the terrain.

Choose your battles carefully. Do not strike when your enemy is strong but when he is weak and in an unwinnable position, as Mr. Obama will be two months hence.

Yeah, you gave up funding an irresponsibly out-of-control government until next year, but what you gained is ground that you can fight on, and a battlefield that you can win on.

Let’s fight the budget battle in September of 2015. Let’s fight the lawless President in February 2015.

And Mr. Cruz, study your history, sir.

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