May 13, 2009

Obama's Divide & Conquer Strategy Paying Off

It all ties together. President Obama may be a relative leadership neophyte. He may be making some really bad decisions for the country. He may be weakening the country and amassing an insurmountable mountain of national debt. Perhaps he has no clue what he's doing. He may be the worst man for the job. Yet one thing he is not, is politically foolish. He's been Machiavellian in his approach to everything. While appearing gregarious and in touch with the common man, in his leadership style he has been ruthless. What I've noticed is that he's been very effective in the divide and conquer strategy espoused by Machiavelli and going back to ancient Rome.

According to Wikipedia,
In politics and sociology, divide and ...conquer is a combination of political, military and economic strategy of gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into chunks that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy. In reality, it often refers to a strategy where small power groups are prevented from linking up and becoming more powerful, since it is difficult to break up existing power structures.

In modern times ...use of this technique is meant to empower the sovereign to control subjects, populations, or factions of different interests, who collectively might be able to oppose his rule.

Seems like an effective tool, no doubt. The Democrats have the class warfare issue as part of their standard playbook. But the usefulness comes in it's effective application, and Obama, while not perfect, has honed it into a science and is applying it liberally (pun intended) to his operation of the White House. He's used it in his dealings with corporations, with Republicans and even with the Democrats. By doing so, he is attempting to set himself up as an unstoppable force.

In the automotive industry, the President isolated the bond holders and pressured them to fall in line. David Frum explains the scenario;

Something bad and dangerous is happening in Barack Obama's America.

The powers that the Obama administration claimed in order to arrest the financial crisis and mitigate the recession are being used and abused in ways that are undermining the legal and financial stability of the United States. Investors: You are warned.

The first warning was the attempt to snatch Chrysler's assets away from their rightful owners to pay off administration friends and supporters.


The bondholders squawked. Well -- not all the bondholders. Bondholders who had previously taken government bailouts for themselves, via the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), kept quiet. That's bad enough. It means that these major lenders were breaching their fiduciary duty to their shareholders in order to placate their new masters in Washington.

But what happened to the non-TARP bondholders was even worse. When they squawked, the administration tried to muscle them. Lawyers for the bondholders contend that senior representatives of the Obama administration threatened them. Michael Barone, the ultra-knowledgeable (and normally unflappable) editor of the Almanac of American Politics called it "gangster government."

The Obama administration denies it threatened anyone. And yet over the past week, one by one, formerly protesting bondholders have abruptly gone silent. Last week, the non-TARP group represented bondholders holding $1-billion in Chrysler bonds. By the end of this week, the group had shrunk to represent only $300-million in bonds. As one commenter observed: that shrinkage suggests that the threats were real.

The division was initially between TARP and non-TARP bondholders, but like dominoes, the non-TARP bondholders fell one-by-one. The divided companies were easier to conquer.

In the health care industry,Rich Lowry points out that the industry knuckled under to Obama. They did this by promising to find $2 trillion in cuts to costs. Their motivation? To placate the President and hopefully stave off getting steamrolled by the administration when it tries to impose it's own brand of Health Care reform (or as conservatives view it, one of his many power grabs). Each company is out looking to save it's own skin, it's own profits, and therefore the industry's only effective cohesive response was surrender. President Obama, by releasing his intent in dribs and drabs he has created a climate of fear, and an environment which ensures it's every-man-for-himself. As a result of this knuckling under, the President has free reign now to do whatever he wants because the companies are starting from a position of weakness. They are divided and will be less able to throw up a collective roadblock to any of his plans.

That the GOP after the election was a house divided is no surprise. The Democrats would have been foolish NOT to take advantage of that, and they did take advantage of it. The swipes at Rush Limbaugh were contrived for the sole purpose of further dividing a house divided. Or at least at maintaining the division between moderate Republicans and conservative Republicans, and the division between Republicans and the American people. By keeping the GOP divided and in disarray, they can less ably mount effective opposition to the administration's radical agenda. Divided, they are easy to conquer.

With the Democrats the administration's divide and conquer is especially troubling. If the administration is trying to sew division within it's own ranks, or divide the caucus into fragments that it can then play against each other to leverage to further it's own agenda, that's truly frightening. But is that happening? Perhaps.

The Democrats are split on the terror interrogation probes into the Bush administration. Nancy Pelosi, a powerful figure has suddenly, somewhat mysteriously, been caught in the crossfire on the issue. There is a hint of fragmentation around the national debt as it relates to new Obama created costs. This Democratic dissent amounts to a PR bonus for Democrats too. They can put forth that their party is a big tent and has vigorous internal debate while the GOP is still the party of 'No'. As long as at the end of the day, enough Democrat factions fall into line (which seems to be no problem so far), the concentration of power can continue.

The concentration of power in the hands of one man is something the framers of the Constitution thought abhorrent. The Constitution was built to prevent that very thing. Yet in ancient Rome, despite a Senate, Julius Caesar managed to become a one man emperor. Obama seems to be attempting the same thing.

Industry needs to coalesce around some key issues. The GOP needs to do the same. But Americans cannot wait for that to happen nor depend on it. This is why the Tea Parties are so important. In Obama's eyes, and the eyes of the radical agenda-driven left, Tea Parties need to be discredited or the opposition to his agenda will mount, and it will do so in a unified way. But for any effective opposition to a destabilizing of American values, the Tea Parties must grow in strength and size and visibility. Without a untied stand against the divide and conquer strategy, the far left agenda will take step after step closer to becoming an irreversible reality.

As David Frum said - you are warned.

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