BY MARC McDONALD
Normally, when someone passes away, everyone tries to think of something kind to say about them. But I can't do that with Andrew Breitbart. I absolutely despised him while he was alive. And his death doesn't change my feelings one bit.
However, I do think that we progressives can learn a thing or two from Breitbart.
By that, I don't mean resorting to using dirty tactics and twisting the facts around to attack opponents, as Breitbart did. No, what I'm talking about is learning a thing or two from his hard-core, take-no-prisoners attacking style to get what we want.
Democrats (and progressives in general) are just too goddamn timid and polite these days. We let Conservatives steamroll right over us again and again. On the other hand, Cons know exactly what they want and they'll do whatever it takes to win. And that is why they've pretty much gotten everything they've wanted for the past three decades.
Breitbart nearly always got what he wanted. It didn't matter if his tactics were questionable or slimy. They got the job done. A good example was when he posted video of Shirley Sherrod that made it appear that she'd made racist remarks. (Of course, she'd done no such thing, as was clear when the full video was released). But Breitbart still "won" in the end. After all, Sherrod was forced to resign, apparently with the White House's approval.
The Sherrod case involved a despicable tactic by Breitbart that summed up his approach to politics: attack, attack, attack---and worry about the facts later, if at all.
Once again, I'm not suggesting we progressives copy this sort of slimy technique. But we do need some of the fire and conviction that Breitbart had in spades.
We need to fight tooth and claw for what we want, instead of timidly sitting around letting the GOP steamroll over us again and again.
Take the 2000 election, for example. The GOP fought ferociously on behalf of George W. Bush, even to the point of bringing in a rent-a-mob to bang on doors and intimidate Florida election officials. Meanwhile, the Gore team sat around politely, waiting for the phone to ring.
Yes, what the GOP did was despicable and it dealt a severe setback to democracy in America. But I get the feeling they didn't lose one second's worth of sleep over their sleazy tactics. And what's more, their guy got into the White House, despite losing the popular vote by 539,000 votes. In the end, they got everything they wanted: their war for oil, their tax breaks for the rich, and their billions of dollars in no-bid contracts for Halliburton.
Modern day politics is like a back alley switchblade fight. The GOP has known this for the past 30 years. And so they always come equipped with a switchblade, and whatever else they need to win the fight.
Meanwhile, the Dems have a bizarre fixation on using a polite, timid approach to politics. Unlike the GOP, they fail to grasp that the game has changed and that sometimes, you've got to use brute force and have a willingness to fight fire with fire.
After all, simply having the facts on his side didn't help John Kerry in 2004. On the other hand, the Swift Boat Liars' willingness to lie and use vicious, sleazy attacks sank Kerry's presidential bid.
The worst part of it was that, unlike the GOP, Kerry didn't need to lie. But he did need to use brute force (and a very loud megaphone) to get the truth out. He needed to get into the liars' faces and scream at the top of his voice that they were lying. In the end, his timid, polite approach failed. He failed to realize that, in modern day politics, politeness and being a gentleman and even having the truth on your side often isn't enough to win elections.
It's a lesson that the Dems have yet to grasp. In modern politics, if you want to win, you've got to have the fire, the hunger, and determination of people like Breitbart. Unlike Breitbart, you don't need to lie---but you do need to learn to bring a switchblade to a street fight.