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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Fear of the 'Push Back'



Irene Whiteside made a wise comment on one of our Facebook threads. She said that conservatives needed to stop being afraid of the "push back".

So what's that mean - "push back". Another thinker once said, "People who don't read history are doomed to repeat it." Let me give you a little history lesson about fear of the push back. We have to go back to the Civil War for this one. The mighty Army of the Potomac had spent 4 years wandering about the Washington, DC area trying to keep between the capital and Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. They actually won some pretty big battles, but they never followed through. Congress was terrified that Lee might sneak past the Army and capture the capital. They were so afraid that if the Army of the Potomac tried to follow through that the brilliant Lee would find some way to push back and overwhelm the Union forces - possibly punching a hole in the forces defending Washington and capturing the city.

President Lincoln was exasperated by the inability of his generals to make any headway against the Confederate armies. Lincoln once telegraphed McClellan and asked him if he wasn't using it, might the president "borrow the army".

Meanwhile, a stubborn little man was carving inroads into the heart of the Confederate States of America. Ulysses S. Grant, a virtual unknown who'd once served as a quartermaster during the Mexican War, had risen rapidly in the ranks of the western army because he had a habit of winning, following through and consolidating his wins. He took ground, and not only held it, but pursued his vanquished foes, often chasing armies larger than his own. He and William Tecumseh Sherman, a cavalry officer and man after Grant's own heart eventually took command of the Western campaign and thanks to poor communications with Washington, were able to move forward after a victory and demolish the armies they had defeated in the field, before General Halleck and Secretary Stanton could get a message back to them telling them to stop and hold in place.

Lincoln noticed and called Grant east to take command of all the armies of the Union. Lincoln gave his new commander full authority to plan and execute a campaign to win the war and Grant proceeded to do so. He ran interference with Congress and his own cabinet and General Halleck, protecting Grant from orders that would have held him back and prolonged the war for years.

The Army of the Potomac moved forward in concert with the Army of the James River and Sherman's armies in the West who were cutting a fiery swath to the sea. Lee struck him hard again and again. To his consternation, every time Lee faced Grant and drubbed the Union troops, they moved forward. Grant would attack. Lee would defend and hold him and then find himself forced to withdraw because his supplies were cut off. A railroad was destroyed or a port was captured. All through his career, whenever Grant fought an engagement, he asked himself afterward only one thing. "What do I do next to end this war?"

He didn't think, "Will this help my political career?" He didn't think, "Will this get me a promotion?" He didn't even think, "Is this too risky?"

With Grant it was always "Win the War." "Stop the slaughter". Grant's determined aggressive style did more to save lives than all the careful shepherding of troops and resources that the Eastern generals did as they extended the war for years. Their timidity cost hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of dollars in damage to the whole country.

The Army of the Potomac reminds me of the Republican party. Led by weak leaders who - every time they win a victory - are so afraid of a "push back" from those they have defeated that they do not consolidate their victories. As a result, we keep having to fight the same battle over and over again. 1980, 1992, 2000, 2004. We win and then we try to hold on to power by giving ground. You can't give ground and hold power.

You advance. You fight. You consolidate your victories. You do the whole job.

Yes, the media will push back.

Yes, the Democrats won't like you and will call you ugly names.

Yes, the global warming enthusiasts, environmentalists and Hollywood elitists won't like you.

Get over it! Do not fear the "push back".

All we need is to find ourselves another Lincoln and Grant. I have some ideas about that, but it'll probably depend on God's will to make it happen. After all, Lincoln was a miracle. Grant was an unexpected gift. Neither man's character could have been predicted based on the history of the American political system and that of the U.S. military. Men like McClellan and Stanton and 90% of the lily-livered Congress - even General Halleck were all more likely to assume power and authority over the conduct of the war.

Instead, we got Lincoln; a man of integrity and honor; a man who listened when God whacked him on the head and inspired him to write the emancipation proclamation when everybody said it was a bad idea. We got Grant, a clerk and undistinguished former soldier who had a genius for strategic war; who understood that you could win battles and still lose the war.

God sent us President Reagan when we needed him. Whatever you think of George Bush, I believe God sent him to protect this nations from the chaos that could have enveloped this country in the wake of 9/11. Teddy Roosevelt came just in time to corral the excesses of the robber barons of the 19th century. Washington was the ideal man to set the tone for the presidents who would come after him. Adams, Jefferson each contributed his unique set of gifts to bear just when we needed them. Eisenhower was there to lead the war effort in Europe and the Cold War in the critical 50's when no president ever walked such a tightrope across a pit of potential catastrophe in history. Kennedy's tax cuts and his uncharacteristicly deft handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis preserved us from disaster. His challenge to land on the moon and subsequent death inspired a national effort that captured the country's imagination and engaged us in an effort that changed the world.

There were presidents that failed dramatically, that exacerbated problems and screwed up royally. We survived them. Some of these presidents only succeeded in one important thing in their entire presidency, but that one thing kept the nation alive and advanced the cause of freedom. It was enough.

We should pray for leaders to emerge who will help us to preserve our freedom and our nation. If we do not, one will be provided for us and it may not be God who provides that leader.

That's all I'm sayin'

Tom King

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