GOP convention yawner

I tried to stay away from the California Republican convention in Santa Clara this weekend, opting instead for my youngest daughter’s lacrosse tournament, but I couldn’t stay away. Like a magnet, the event drew me from the Sacramento area to Santa Clara. I showed up, figuring this would be an exciting event given the large number of competitive and increasingly nasty primary races, but it’s a really low-key affair. Conservative political activist Stephen Frank, of California Political News and Views, told me it was one of the most boring conventions he has been to — and he has been attending them since the 1960s. He said that if we removed all the paid consultants, student activists and candidates, that there would be about 22 people here. That’s an exaggeration, but not by much.

I caught Assemblyman Chuck DeVore’s press conference. He is waging a longshot U.S. Senate race against Tom Campbell and Carly Fiorina. He’s the conservative in the race and he had some good things to say. For instance, he pointed out the real problems in the government — that the federal government is growing at a rate that can’t be sustained. He noted that the stimulus program did not jumo-start the economy and that the money “went overwhelmingly to protect existing government jobs.” He said he’s the only candidate who has been invited to more tea party events that he has time to attend, and believes that his positions can attract the Reagan Democrats and Decline to State voters who rejected the GOP because of its profligate spending, but who are no rejecting the Democrats (but don’t trust the GOP enough to embrace the party again). At least DeVore isn’t trying to parse things — he has taken the same conservative positions that he always has taken as an Assemblyman and political activist from Orange County.

DeVore does say some entertaining things. Explaining that he won’t run TV ads in his campaign, he said he is a big believer in Sun Tzu and the art of asymmetrical war. I asked (jokingly) DeVore, who is very conservative on defense issues, whether that meant that he was a terrorist sympathizer. Hey, we try to find our humor where we can at these dull affairs!

I will soon attend the dinner banquet. I bumped into gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner, who promised me that he will touch on themes he learned in my book about public employee unions. Maybe it was worth attending after all!

–Steven Greenhut

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  1. PRI
    PRI Author 13 March, 2010, 19:32

    Curious statement about asymmetrical war from DeVore, with whom I’ve long debated issues of war and peace, with him taking the pro-war side and me the pro-peace side. Like Chuck, I was in military intelligence in the U.S. Army, although in my case 10 years earlier (1978-82). He supports the Iraq and Afghan wars even though both are asymmetrical, with us being on the big, losing side, and the locals on the small, winning side.

    One of Sun Tzu’s wisest sayings was: “There is no instance of a nation profiting from prolonged warfare.” After more than 8 years of war in Afghanistan and, on the 19th of March, 7 years in Iraq, America is bankrupt and deep in debt, a broken empire.

    Another: “The victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterward looks for victory.” That’s just what Bush did: He panicked after 9/11 and, instead of concentrating all his energies on getting Osama, took over two countries whose people didn’t like it and have been resisting ever since. Neither war has had an exit strategy, or definition of victory. We’re finding out — the hard, expensive way — why Afghanistan long has been called “the graveyard of empires.”

    Curiously, if Chuck were to take the pro-peace side of Ron Paul, calling for bringing our troops home, he would have a lot better chance against Campbell and Carly. And he’s wrong to think that he can cut government while maintaining a large, imperial army overseas fighting at least two hot wars. The way you gain political support for such wars is by bribing congressmen with pork; hence Bush never vetoed a single bill in his first term.

    I’ll leave the final word to Sun Tzu, whose short book should be read by everyone. It’s available free online. Here he is: “To fight and conquer in all our battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”

    — John Seiler

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