“Warren Kinsella's book, ‘Fight the Right: A Manual for Surviving the Coming Conservative Apocalypse,’ is of vital importance for American conservatives and other right-leaning individuals to read, learn and understand.”
- The Washington Times
“One of the best books of the year.”
- The Hill Times
“Justin Trudeau’s speech followed Mr. Kinsella’s playbook on beating conservatives chapter and verse...[He followed] the central theme of the Kinsella narrative: “Take back values. That’s what progressives need to do.”
- National Post
“[Kinsella] is a master when it comes to spinning and political planning...”
- George Stroumboulopoulos, CBC TV
“Kinsella pulls no punches in Fight The Right...Fight the Right accomplishes what it sets out to do – provide readers with a glimpse into the kinds of strategies that have made Conservatives successful and lay out a credible roadmap for progressive forces to regain power.”
- Elizabeth Thompson, iPolitics
“[Kinsella] deserves credit for writing this book, period... he is absolutely on the money...[Fight The Right] is well worth picking up.”
- Huffington Post
“Run, don't walk, to get this amazing book.”
- Mike Duncan, Classical 96 radio
“Fight the Right is very interesting and - for conservatives - very provocative.”
- Former Ontario Conservative leader John Tory
“His new book is great! All of his books are great!”
- Tommy Schnurmacher, CJAD
“I absolutely recommend this book.”
- Paul Wells, Maclean’s
“Kinsella puts the Left on the right track with new book!”
- Calgary Herald
That, clearly, is what newly-minted Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leader Patrick Brown wants to do: make the “progressive” part of their name a reality again.
It’s fair to ask this question, however: has it ever been progressive in the past generation? In my view, it hasn’t really been that way since Bill Davis.
John Tory was a progressive conservative, but the Ontario PC caucus and membership sure weren’t. He wanted to bring them back to Davis – but they all wanted to get back to Harris. (And, to sue for peace, Tory let in the Landowners. Big mistake. Trojan Horse, etc.)
Tim Hudak was truthful, at least: he didn’t have a progressive bone in his body, and he let everyone know it. They voted accordingly.
Mike Harris? Well, we all know how that worked out. His ‘Common Sense Revolution’ was certainly the latter, but not so much ever the former. He won, sure. But when Ontarians saw what his revolution meant – Ipperwash, Walkerton, hospital closures, firing of nurses and massive social unrest – they were the ones who rebelled. His party hasn’t been in power since.
The Republicans are a good recent example of what happens when conservatives let red-meat ideologues – the Tea Party, et al. – conduct a friendly takeover. It empowers lunatics like Donald Trump, and it also simultaneously alienates the significant majority of voters who aren’t far-Right kooks. Like Nixon used to say: run to the Right to get the nomination. And, when you get it, start running back to the Centre.
I haven’t met Patrick Brown or spoken to him. I do know some of the folks around him, however, and they are scary-smart modern conservatives. If they are in any way representative of his thinking, I think it’s safe for the rest of us to assume that he is genuine in his quest to pull his party – kicking and screaming – into modern times.
That said, his party may like it where they are. And that, of course, will result in Patrick Brown being this decade’s John Tory – a man in sync with his times, but leading a party that decidedly is not.
Meet Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications to the President of the United States of America.
Or, as he was recently described in a headline in Foreign Policy magazine, an asshole.
That’s a quote. “Asshole.” Foreign Policy – that most revered and reserved of publications, the sine qua non of the U.S. diplomatic and bureaucratic classes, has called one of the most powerful unelected people on the planet an “asshole.” In a headline, too.
That’s not all. Foreign Policy also called Rhodes “an overweening little schmuck.”
In the days since the New York Times Magazine published a 10,000-word magnum opus about Rhodes, lots of other bon mots have been flung his way, too. That he’s an out-of-control egomaniac, that he’s a serial manipulator, that he’s an inexperienced adolescent – and, most ominously (for him), that he oversaw a Machiavellian conspiracy that “duped the American public into accepting a nuclear deal with Iran.”
That last one should give Rhodes and his boss and their respective lawyers pause, of course, because it nudges them perilously closer to what Dubya got with his imaginary weapons of mass destruction in neighbouring Iraq. You know: congressional hearings, threats of impeachment, an unrelentingly hostile media, a war-opposing African American in the White House, etc. etc. It was bad.
Obama and Rhodes are months away from the end of their tenure in the White House, however, so perhaps the Republicans and the press will give them a pass. The former is shortly heading off to write his memoirs and give pricey speeches, while the latter is heading back to what he did before. Which is, wait for it, writing short stories. (We’re not making this up. That’s what Ben Rhodes did, actually. He was a creative writing major when Obama recruited him to be a speechwriter on his 2007 campaign.)
But the Rhodes profile in the Times is a cautionary tale for political staffers everywhere, even in far-away Ottawa, Ontario. Because, in it, Rhodes gave writer David Samuels extraordinary access – and he was extraordinarily candid. Rhodes told Samuels, on the record, that the press corps are “27-year-olds…who literally know nothing.” He called the entirety of the foreign policy establishment – including Hillary Clinton – “the Blob.” He said he had created an “echo chamber” of talking heads who say “what we [have] given them to say.” He said some of his colleagues “can’t keep a secret for two hours.” He said – and, again, this is a quote – “I don’t know anymore where I begin and Obama ends.”
Sound, say, like not a few “senior strategists” who have blown into town on the wings of someone else’s election victory, achieved unprecedented powers, and then frittered it all away with an ill-advised sit-down with someone like David Samuels?
It happens all the time. A senior staffer succumbs to the siren song of some scheming media inquisitor – You’re so influential! The bureaucracy and caucus respect you so! How did you get so close to The Leader? Was that your words I detected in that wonderful speech/policy/year-end interview? – and, inevitably, they come to profoundly regret it. The newspaper containing the profile piece thuds against their door early one morning, they shuffle to get it in their slippers, they scan it, they frown. They start frantically texting friends: “Do you think it’s bad? Does it create a problem for the boss? Should I demand a correction?”
Take my word for it, having previously taken a celebrated trip to the burn unit, myself: it’s almost always bad. It creates a problem for the boss. And a correction won’t undo the damage.
It doesn’t matter if the profile is highly critical, or highly laudatory, either. If it’s critical, the staffer will anger the boss, caucus and colleagues. If it’s too complementary – as in the Rhodes case – it stirs up jealousy and anonymous back-biting. Either way, it’s not good.
In the Harper era, few staffers would be foolish enough to agree to Rhodes-style profiling, so few ever did. The boss didn’t like it, at all.
In the Trudeau era, the press profile pendulum has swung wildly in the opposite direction: the new crew are big fans of behind-the-scenes stuff, to the extent that we know more about them than we do about most members of cabinet. No major decision seems to go unaccompanied by a subsequent tell-all about the strategic machinations that preceded it.
Is that ever a good idea? Well, ask Ben Rhodes. After the New York Times Magazine published – and after Foreign Policy started to call him an asshole – Rhodes disappeared. Vanished. His colleagues in the press office, meanwhile, started hand-delivering doughnuts to the media. Asked about what Rhodes said, White House press secretary Josh Earnest admitted that Rhodes would now “say it differently if he had the chance.”
Ben Rhodes won’t get the chance. He’s done like dinner. So, remember the cautionary tale that will forever be appended to his name, Ottawa staffers.
To make it easy, you could clip that Foreign Policy headline, and pop it in your wallet.
You know, the one calling the super-powerful, super-influential, super-smart advisor “an asshole.”
When something this horrible happens, we need to stop, and carefully assess whether we – and our elected leaders, and the police, and everyone else who is paid to pay attention – are doing what needs to be done.
Don’t just ignore this, don’t turn the page. Contact your representatives, and ask them: what are you doing about this? What are doing to ensure this never happens again?
I’ve seen some of you say it can’t be done. He can’t be shamed – there’s nothing that will diminish the enthusiasm of his supporters.
Here’s this morning’s New York Times on what he plans to do:
Donald J. Trump plans to throw Bill Clinton’s infidelities in Hillary Clinton’s face on live television during the presidential debates this fall, questioning whether she enabled his behavior and sought to discredit the women involved.
And he intends to portray Mrs. Clinton as fundamentally corrupt, invoking everything from her cattle futures trades in the late 1970s to the federal investigation into her email practices as secretary of state.
Drawing on psychological warfare tactics that Mr. Trump used to defeat “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz, “Little Marco” Rubio and “Low-Energy” Jeb Bush in the Republican primaries, the Trump campaign is mapping out character attacks on the Clintons to try to increase their negative poll ratings and bait them into making political mistakes, according to interviews with Mr. Trump and his advisers.Another goal is to win over skeptical Republicans, since nothing unites the party quite like castigating the Clintons.
War rooming Donald Trump, then, is a very, very important task. He plans to viciously go after his opponent – so what is she to do?
I have strong views on this subject. I firmly believe any war room – with the right people, the right message, the right strategy and total discipline and commitment – can take down anyone, and particularly a creep like Trump. (And they can defend a candidate like Hillary, too.)
What’s your take? Where would you focus, to attack and defend?
Text Daughter this morn about Anti-Flag tonight. She texts back, says she was out to 5:30. At the hospital.
She and Hannah, she said. A girl at Sneak’s had had a reaction to her heart medication, and they had to rush her to the E.R.
Which friend? Who?
Long story, apparently. She said she’d tell us later.
So – she and her pals had been at her usual punk rock hangout on a Friday night, Sneaky Dee’s (where SFH made its debut a decade ago, by the by). They look across the room, which was crowded as always, and there is a girl passed out. No one is helping her. No one.
She and Hannah go to help her. They try and talk to her, no response. They hold her head up and hold her hand. Nothing.
She needs a doctor.
With the bouncers’ help, they get her outside. The ambulance is taking too long, so they wave down a cab. The driver speeds towards Sunnybrook.
The E.R. is packed. The girl is still out cold, totally unresponsive. They finally get her to a bed, and they stay with her, talking to her, holding her hand.
It’s maybe 3 a.m. The nurse is crabby. She barks at them. What’s your friend’s name? What did she take?
Anyway. They stay with her until the doctor sees her. She’s starting to wake up. She’s on a new heart medication, turns out. She had a bad reaction to it, the doctor says. A couple beers hadn’t helped, either.
Using the girl’s now-unlocked phone, Daughter and Hannah finally find a friend of the girl – who is from Cobourg – in Toronto. The friend has been frantically looking for her all night.
She’s discharged. Daughter and Hannah stay with her. They take her in another cab, all the way across town. Sun’s coming up. They release the girl into the care of the grateful friend.
It’s dawn. Hannah goes home. Daughter, meanwhile, gets on the streetcar – way, way out in the West end – with her last few bucks. She and Hannah had used up all their money to help the girl.
The driver looks at her. You okay?
Yes. Daughter says, and then she heads home to go to sleep.
Proud Dad part: they didn’t know this girl, at all.
Daughter and Hannah had never seen her before last night. She’s not their friend. But they knew she needed help, so they gave it.
Proud Dad waiting for her at Anti-Flag, here.