Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Mitt Romney vs Sun Tzu

Some in the Romney camp seem to be crying either "foul" or "see, I told you so"; after McCain supporters in West Virginia switched their support to Mike Huckabee. What they should be doing is going back to re-read "The Art of War", by Sun Tzu ;probably the greatest military and political tactician of ancient China.

Apparently, the first vote tally in the Feb 5 WV Republican convention showed Romney was ahead, but the final tally showed Huckabee 52%, Romney 47% and McCain nowhere to be found. A number of pundits have also questioned why Huckabee often has stinging words for Romney; but remains civil, and simply points out his own superior experience and positions, when asked about McCain.

While those pundits and Romneyites may think both these indicate some sort of "back-room deal", what they need to remember is the full principle of alliances recorded by Sun Tzu in 6th century China.
"The enemy of my friend is my enemy. The enemy of my enemy is my friend" - Sun Tzu
This of course begs the question of which part of this principle is more likely to apply in this situation.

I think it obvious that the nature of the political contest rules out the first part. The struggle for nomination makes all those involved in the race opposing combatants. While this doesn't of necessity indicate personal hostility between candidates; for the purpose of applying the principles found in "The Art of War", they are all "enemies."

I think it's clear that by Romney's early use of attack ads, against both John McCain and Mike Huckabee, he made himself more of an enemy to both than either was to each other. Thus the relevant principle becomes; "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

Now that doesn't by any means indicate that Huckabee or McCain have veered from their individual goals of becoming President themselves. It's ridiculous to suppose that Mike Huckabee is putting all this effort into becoming the VP on a McCain ticket.

It's doubly foolish when one realizes (as nearly all real conservatives do) that a McCain nomination would be doomed in the general election; where McCain's "independents" and "moderates" would mostly desert the mostly liberal McCain for the always liberal Clinton or Obama. Why would Huckabee conspire to be at the bottom of a doomed ticket? Clearly he wouldn't.

Romney supporters and pundits alike simply need to realize that Huckabee and McCain are simply holding some of their fire for now, though you can be sure they have ammunition stored against each other for the final contest. They should also not fool themselves into thinking Romney's higher "enemy" status is a result of being a better candidate. Rather the venomous snake at one's ankle is a greater enemy than the archer across the field. Hopefully when Huckabee and McCain do train their volley more directly at each other, they will be more civil and less venomous than Romney's attacks.

I also have to wonder whether Romney understands that the deceitfulness of his attacks against Huckabee have undermined even his truthful accusations against John McCain. You can be sure that when McCain decides to start actively attacking Huckabee, we will also remember the Arizona Senator's lack of integrity concerning a Romney "time-table" for pulling out of Iraq.

I tend to think Huckabee has studied Sun Tzu, although I also think venomous personal attacks are simply not his way. It's gratifying to see that although Huckabee will readily point out position differences between himself and other candidates, he hasn't sunk to the level of personal attacks and deception. His steadfast honesty and integrity should help to at least somewhat shield him against the deceitful attacks of others.

Perhaps Mitt Romney could have at least listened to the advise of W.C. Fields, before he became the source of so many untruth's about Mike Huckabee. To quote Fields from the 1939 movie where one of his most famous quotes was also the film's title; "You can't cheat an honest man."

1 comment:

cricket said...

I, too, am proud of Huckabee for running his campaign with integrity. It will be so interesting to see how it all plays out going forward. With respect to the Romney campaign complaining and deluding themselves with a "back room deal" theory...did you happen to hear Mike's little quip last night about Romney being "against whining before he was for whining..."? At any rate, I am glad my home state of Georgia gave Mike the nod...check out my blog for my piece on "The Cost of A Vote" along with a picture of Bandit the Huckadog! www.twocabgab.blogspot.com