Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Michael Walsh, the founding editor of BigJournalism.com, the former music critic of Time Magazine, and the author of eleven books, including Hostile Intent and the recently published Early Warning (Pinnacle Books). Writing as “David Kahane,” he has just published Rules for Radical Conservatives: Beating the Left at Its Own Game to Take Back America. (Ballantine).
FP: Michael Walsh, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Let’s begin with what inspired you to write this book.
Walsh: Like most conservatives, I was tired of seeing the Right get smacked around all the time by the Left, and never fighting back. Even though Bush was not a true conservative, it was still exasperating watching him turn into a piñata that the Left could gleefully batter with absolutely no fear of reprisal. Rules for Radical Conservatives is payback time. Fortunately, I knew just the man to take on the job: my alter-ego, “David Kahane,” who’s been writing in the pages of National Review Online for the past three years. “Kahane” is a dyed-in-the-red-diaper baby who seeks to explain the way of Hollywood and the Left to the whiny losers on the Right, but even he had had enough: Rules (the sulfuric evocation of Alinsky is entirely intentional) is, as Ann Coulter says, “the manual for the counter-revolution.”
FP: So, in your view, why doesn’t the Right know how to fight?
Walsh: Because it plays by the wrong rules. Politics, especially as practiced by the hard Left since the 1960s, is not a place for turning the other cheek. The Right foolishly believes that because its principles are better and nobler than those of the Left, it will win in the marketplace of ideas. The Left, on the other hand, knows that the Right’s principles are better and truer, which is why it is always so desperate to discredit them, by any means necessary. One of the inspirations for Rules is Milton’s Paradise Lost, so draw your own conclusions.
FP: Why does the Right consistently underestimate the nature of the enemy?
Walsh: Because it is has lost one very fundamental animating principle – or, rather, it has allowed the Left to browbeat it to death. I speak of course of the existence of evil. Western civilization, for all its imperfections (which the Left is only to happy to point out a la Alinsky’s rule of making the enemy live up to its own highest ideals), triumphed because of its moral center. It was that moral center that gave rise to the art, music, literature, philosophy and technology that propelled Western European civilization past its rivals. For some reason, the Left feels compelled to destroy that civilization and I must say it’s doing a fine job.
Until conservatives face up to the nature of their opponent – not in the political realm but in the moral realm – they’re going to continue to have a hard time, no matter what electoral success may come next month. You can’t fight an enemy unless you can name him, which is why the very first rule of my book is Know Thy Enemy.
FP: David Horowitz has exposed what Obama and the left are up to in Barack Obama’s Rules for Revolution – The Alinsky Model. What do you think are the lessons of Saul Alinsky?
Walsh: David knows Alinsky, his methods, his motives and his goals better than anybody else alive who’s not named Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, and his monograph on the subject is required reading for conservatives, especially if you can’t stand the thought of slogging through Alinsky’s turgid prose in Rules for Radicals to learn his lessons. And what are those lessons? That ruthlessness pays when you’re up against a demoralized foe. That “by any means necessary” is not something to be ashamed of. That if you batter long and hard enough against even the sturdiest castle’s walls, they will eventually fall when their defenders decide they’re no longer worth defending. And that has been the triumph of the left these past 50 years – they have made western civilization seem not worth defending.
FP: What are the Left’s weapons that we should be fighting with?
Walsh: First and foremost, an unshakable belief in the rightness of your position. The Left never compromises, except tactically, and never on principle. They take the long view; they understand that the war between St. Michael and Satan didn’t end with the expulsion from Heaven – all that it did was give Lucifer (Alinsky’s dedicatee) his own counter-kingdom, from which to wage war on… well, us. Having no sense of shame helps a lot, too.
FP: Wait, are you saying the Right should start fighting with no sense of shame either?
Walsh: Yes. Shame is for chumps. The right needs to learn to fight the way America fought in World War II, giving no quarter and expecting nothing less than unconditional surrender; after all, that’s what the Left explicitly does, and is proud of us. Some on our side are too squeamish, or think it’s beneath then, but when the President of the United States talks about “hand-to-combat” after the election, he’s not kidding, metaphorically speaking. The Left’s favorite word is “fight.“ The Right’s is “negotiate.“ But negotiation is almost always undertaken from a position of weakness, disguised as moral strength. We should negotiate with the Left the same way Patton negotiated with the Wehrmacht.
FP: Why did you invent “David Kahane”?
Walsh: Because the truth is often more effectively delivered when it’s disguised as parody or satire. Most of what ”Dave” has been saying for the past three years has in fact now come true – not because I’m clairvoyant, but because no idea is too ridiculous for the Left to promulgate. Remember that in a siege, the besiegers don’t have to knock all the walls down: they only have to breach one of them, and then they can come pouring through. Academe is now their base camp and the media is their trebuchet. Conservatives can no longer hope the walls hold, but instead must go forth and engage the enemy on the field of intellectual battle. As Milton writes in the Areopagitica, “I can not praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat.” It’s long past time to stop pretending we’re too good to get down in the mud with the Left – we’re already in the mud. Now the only question is whether we’re going to fight.
FP: We’ve read that you were once a progressive yourself, is this true?
Walsh: Never! I attended college from 1967-1971 and while I may have looked like a hippie back then, I relished the intellectual combat that took place every day on campus. It was my first look at the unvarnished, spiteful and hateful face of the hard Left, always so full of rage and unearned moral dudgeon, and it’s stayed with me forever. When Obama shouted about the country’s being “five days away from fundamental transformation,” I knew exactly what he was talking about. And now so does the rest of the nation.
FP: Your thoughts on the Left’s behavior in the terror war?
Walsh: As disgraceful as its behavior in any other sphere. For a month or so after 9⁄11, I had friends on the left coming up to me and saying things like, “It’s a good thing your guy Bush won the election; can you imagine if Gore had won?‘ But they soon lost their fear and were back to their old tricks, which is sedition under the false flag of patriotism. The evil that Alinsky did lives on after him.
FP: What do you hope your book will help achieve?
Walsh: That people on both sides will listen to my alter ego, “David Kahane” and realize that he’s speaking the truth. There are no words, concepts or ideas that I put into his mouth that I have not heard seriously floated by the left; they’re almost beyond parody, although I’ve certainly tried. Most important, I want conservatives to wake up and realize that they’re in the fight of their lives, that (as Obama says, referring to the Left) “this is our moment.“ And to take it as seriously as the Left means it. They really do think this is their moment: of triumph, of revenge, of payback. And they won’t let it go without a, to use their favorite word, fight.
FP: Michael Walsh, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.