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Outsiders vs. Insiders: How conservatives can channel Gen. Patton (& Vince Lombardi) in 2018

Winning is not a sometime thing; it's an all the time thing. You don't win once in a while; you don't do things right once in a while; you do them right all of the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.”

Coming out of the Thanksgiving holiday, longtime sports fans likely recognize those as the immortal words of legendary football coach Vince Lombardi, a man so revered for his take-no-prisoners winning philosophies that George S. Pattonhis name appears on the NFL’s ultimate prize, the trophy awarded to each season’s Super Bowl champion.

Then candidate and now President Donald Trump endured a great deal of criticism for promising (during last year’s campaign) in Lombardiesque fashion that if he were elected to the highest office in the land America would do so much winning we’d get tired of it.

While Trump’s boast may currently be realized only at the executive level, it hasn’t quite come to fruition at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. There’s little doubt Congress hasn’t done much to help move the winning Trump agenda along, due almost entirely to the Republican Party’s feckless and incompetent leadership, primarily in the Senate.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has used any number of excuses in hopes of explaining away the upper chamber’s failure to pass anything big enough for the complacent American public to notice. For a country that’s just finished chewing on a lot of things in the past few days, now the people need a legislative bone to gnaw at. Some observers think it will arrive soon in the form of tax cuts/reform, but questions remain as to whether McConnell’s got the gumption to force the difficult members of his caucus to swallow hard and vote for a package that might not please everyone.

Perhaps for that reason Republican candidates are reluctant to join McConnell’s “team” as we leap into the all-important 2018 midterm election year.

Kevin Robillard of Politico reported, “Heading into the 2018 elections, only one Republican Senate candidate nationwide has pledged unequivocally to back Mitch McConnell as majority leader. Most Republicans facing competitive primaries are hemming and hawing, admiring McConnell’s political savvy and fundraising apparatus — but also looking warily at his sinking approval ratings both with Republicans and the broader electorate.

“Even in some of the red and purple states represented by Democratic senators where McConnell is hoping to pad his majority — places like Missouri, Michigan and Wisconsin — the leading candidates are dodging questions about McConnell's leadership or threatening to oppose him if the GOP Congress doesn't deliver on the party's legislative priorities in the coming months.”

Robillard further reported the only candidate openly supporting McConnell at this point is West Virginia’s Evan Jenkins (who is running for Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin’s seat in a state Trump won by a huge margin). Neither the primary nor the general election is a lock for any Republican in any state but I can’t help but think Jenkins’ decision to tie himself to McConnell will end up serving as a concrete boot in the lake of electoral politics.

Why? Americans like winners. It’s often said you win elections by addition and not subtraction but I’d argue President Trump defeated Crooked Hillary Clinton last year by adding lifelong Democrats in key blue states (Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, among others) and subtracting the dead weight of the Republican establishment. The Bushes, Romneys and McCains of the political world bashed Trump mercilessly and yet the billionaire businessman still pulled off the heretofore unthinkable – winning the most challenging elected office on his first try.

Yes, winning is terrific. Trump never pretended otherwise. Trump’s GOP opponents all believed they could prevail in the primaries through some sort of traditional route – they were wrong. Even my first choice, Senator Ted Cruz, couldn’t overcome Trump’s “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” mantra.

Contrast Trump’s rising tide lifts all boats strategy with that of the excuse making machine that is Mitch McConnell. Everyone in the ballpark admires a high pop fly until it reaches its apex and falls back to earth only to be unceremoniously caught by a fielder and recorded as an out. That’s what McConnell is – a guy who’s reached his zenith and is now plummeting back to a reality that people really can’t stand him.

Republican senate candidates who get too close to McConnell will suffer the sting of his failures, too.

McConnell possesses an uncanny ability to screw up even in can’t-lose situations such as the Alabama GOP primary earlier this year. His Senate Leadership Fund went all-in for appointed establishment candidate Senator Luther Strange against the people’s choice, Judge Roy Moore. Moore beat Strange and now McConnell has spent much of the past month pounding on Moore to resign over a “he said/she said” situation involving Moore’s purported dating habits from the 70’s.

Ultimately the voters of Alabama will decide Moore’s fate. But the whole situation has McConnell looking even more like a bumbling fool incapable of leading.

Despite this, establishmentarians will scapegoat the media if Moore ends up the next senator from Alabama. Former George W. Bush speechwriter (and establishment Republican) Matt Latimer wrote in Politico Magazine, “[T]he real reason for a situation that allows the Roy Moores and Donald Trumps of the world to rise above mere laughingstock status is that the media has totally lost its connection with a large portion of the nation, almost all of them conservatives. Worse, the media has become what Trump and allies refer to as ‘the opposition party’—and, as such, a most useful foil for the Trump administration.

“This problem is real. The anger against the mainstream media is deep-seated. And, as difficult it is for many to accept, much of the anger is justified.”

In his piece Latimer discusses the media’s unwillingness to adequately censure Obama for his many lies and mistakes while being overtly and unfairly critical of Republicans such as Reagan, H.W. Bush and his former boss.

This is all well and good – and true – but if Moore prevails it isn’t because the media lost credibility; political talkers never had any to begin with. The same logic extends to Trump’s presidency – liberals and ruling class Republicans like Latimer can fault journalists all they want but the reason why Moore and Trump are winning at the ballot box is because they represent a complete departure from the swampy culture that’s infested government and politics, not solely due to bias in the news.

Everyone knows Democrats and liberals control the news media. To envision them excavating the dredges of someone’s past to find any kind of discrediting information doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination at all. “Opposition” research can stem from people you hire on a campaign or from some self-interested ideology-driven dirt miner at The Washington Post. To most people it’s one and the same.

Mitch McConnell isn’t unpopular because the media fails to criticize him; he’s drawn conservatives’ ire for his many and varied deviances from his own campaign promises and for his lack of “winning” spirit when it comes to battling for conservative agenda items -- and for choosing sides against conservatives like Moore.

Do you think Alabamians would actually be less likely to vote for Moore because Mitch McConnell says he should step down from the race? Hardly. If anything, the fact McConnell’s gotten so deeply involved in the strictly Alabama matter is driving Moore’s candidacy in the face of pretty difficult circumstances.

It doesn’t take a genius to surmise people in places like Alabama don’t want to be judged according to standards devised in newsrooms or conference rooms – or committee rooms -- in New York, Los Angeles and Washington. The beauty of the Constitution is it allows local populations to decide who’s fit to hold office and who’s not. The McConnells of the world don’t get to choose.

Neither does the establishment and the elites.

John Nolte wrote at Breitbart, “Excuse me for speaking a hard truth, but all victims should NOT be automatically believed. (See: Mockingbird, To Kill a.) Yes, they should be taken seriously, but then their accusations must be fully and fairly investigated. Unfortunately, our media disagrees.

“As it is with all things, when it comes to Roy Moore, our blazingly dishonest media are not seeking to inform or illuminate. Rather, they are using the Moore scandal as yet another weapon in a relentless and highly partisan campaign of emotional blackmail meant to define just who is and is not a good person.

“Just as the media do with guns, abortion, homosexuality, Obamacare, and Trump, all of their coverage is geared towards pressuring you to agree with them because if you do not agree with them, that means you are an immoral and indecent person.”

Nolte’s is an interesting article because he basically argues that the accusations -- even if they turned out to be true -- fail to rise to the level of disqualification in Moore’s case. The morality of who someone chooses to date may differ from place to place (Nolte says he is seventeen years his wife’s junior) and should not be subject to the whims and judgements of others who live in different geographic cultural environments.

Again, voters in Alabama will decide who wins and loses in their own senate race. That’s the way it should be, too.

Legendary general General George S. Patton said about winning, “Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired. When you were younger the mind could make you dance all night, and the body was never tired... You've always got to make the mind take over and keep going.”

Patton’s is salient advice for conservatives in today’s day and age. People like Mitch McConnell are all too willing to let the “body” (the ruling class culture) influence what the “mind” (the voters) is going to do. As conservatives we have our cultural filters and will decide on our own.

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mitch mccpnnell

I have never cared for mitch mcconnell and believe his decisions are based on his own political future. He does not care if he is the leader of the majority or the leader of the minority as long as he is the leader of the Republican senators.
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I believe he did great damage to the Republicans right after obama got elected and mcconnell stood on the Senate floor and stated that their main objective for the next four years was to insure that obama was a one term President.
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How many times did we have to watch that clip on the nightly news, far too many times, it just reminded peoples understanding of what the Republicans main goal was. Attach obama rather than to put up good reasons to vote out obama in 2012.
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The only good thing mcconnell did was in the last year of the obama administration was to prevent obama from getting his Supreme Court nomination through. If the Republicans lose the 2018 elections the tables just might be turned around on them when it comes to any future Supreme Court nominations.
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Now that they are in power mcconnell will not use his knowledge and political acumen to get the job done.
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They could take a lot from the Patton vision of how to win.