Saturday, September 06, 2008

Saul Alinsky vs John Boyd

Here's a lens through which to view the current political conflict. On one side is a fellow whose first job out of college was community organizer. On the other side is a fellow whose first job out of college was fighter pilot. Each appears to have brought this experience to the fight.

It is wrong to accuse Barak Obama of having no experience. He was a community organizer. I served on the board of a neighborhood association in the early 1980s and have met a few. However, my experience was insufficient to become acquainted with their guru, Saul Alinsky and his book Rules For Radicals. However, I now recognize the pattern of conflict followed by his disciples. I am confident that Mr. Obama learned Mr. Alinsky's lessons as well as did Mr. Obama's rival, Mrs. Hillary Clinton. Better, seeing as how both worked from the same playbook and Mr. Obama won.

Before that, Mr. Obama's greatest achievement was winning his Senate seat. He was quite lucky when the judge unsealed Mr. Ryan's divorce papers. Mr. Ryan was ahead in the polls at the time. But you make your luck and we'll never know exactly how this lucky break came about. Perhaps someone more familiar with Mr. Alinsky's book could say.

The other party is headed by a fellow I've written about in the past as mere media hoax. He was so out of touch with my wing of the party, so hostile toward the religious right, so prone to sell out Republican interests, and so quick to kowtow to the media elites that I thought it impossible that he could inspire loyalty in the Republican Party. Obviously, I was wrong.

Before Mr. McCain became a POW he was a fighter pilot. Fighter pilots kill Communists.

They did so over North Korea and over North Vietnam with lopsided kill-ratios thanks to the fighting doctrines taught by USAF Colonel John Boyd. The key notion in Mr. Boyd's way is the OODA loop. In any dogfight, each pilot must do the same four things: Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. The participants in a dogfight will loop through these steps, and the winner invariably manages to "get inside the other guy's OODA loop." A fighter ace kills the other guy because when he's inside his OODA loop, the other guy is always responding to a stale situation. During the "Observe and Orient" steps the pilot forms a mental picture of reality. During the "Act" step the pilot changes reality. If I'm inside your OODA loop, I'm changing the situation faster than you can decide what to do that'll save yourself and/or kill me.

It is widely documented that Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and George Bush were all "misunderestimated" by their political opponents. Though I don't think Mr. Bush was or is a Conservative, each of these politicians were never understood by their political opponents. And each of these politicians managed to run rings around their adversaries. They each had this stealth shield spell of confusion that addled their enemies' wits. It's hard to Observe and Orient when your brain can't grok who your opponent is.

Since the Friday before Labor Day it appears that Mrs. Palin has transformed Barak Obama from Emperor/Messiah into Wyle E. Coyote, Sooooper Genius. Look at all the narrative attacks that have been spun about her and none have come close to touching her. Can this mean that someone is serially faking the drive-by media elites out of their jock-straps? Has Team McCain gotten inside Team Obama's OODA loop?

Maybe, and maybe it doesn't matter. Elections are zero-sum games, just like dogfights: one guy wins and one guy loses. Except in dogfights losing is usually much worse for your health. But elections are a form of politics and I don't know whether Mr. Alinky's tactics (which are native to politics) are more effective than Mr. Boyd's tactics.

Update: for a better analysis of Team McCain's fighting strategy go here. If you happen to agree with Mr. McMain's side, you need to get your head around this:

McCain's undoing of the elite, leftist media provides a universal lesson for contending with the Left. At base, the Left's ideology, whether relating to women's rights, human rights, academic inquiry or war and peace is not universal but tribal. Moreover, when the Left is challenged on any one of its signature issues, because it cannot actually make a case for the universal applicability or even logic of its views, it tends instead to embrace the politics of personal destruction while ignoring the obvious contradictions between its stated beliefs and actual behavior.

WHY things are this way have to do with the nature of post-modernism and its notion of truth and absolutes.

Another Update: Another OODA loop analysis of the current conflict.

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