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Tugging on Superman's cape

One of the most insightful political quotes I've ever heard was from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

When you strike at a king, you must kill him.

This simple sentence is brilliant in its simplicity. If you plan to attack a very powerful figure, be sure you do enough harm to prevent retaliation, because it will be tremendous. And the wisdom of this has often escaped otherwise-intelligent people.

The first President Bush struck hard against Saddam Hussein in 1991, but didn't complete the job. That unfinished business caused problems for 12 years, until his son completed the work.

Osama Bin Laden thought his attacks on 9/11 would drive the United States from meddling in the Middle East. That miscalculation led to the toppling of two of terrorism's most fervent supporting nations, the renouncement by a third, and a huge semi-permanent U.S. military presence.

Dan Rather thought he had the goods on President Bush, and rushed to air with flagrantly-forged "documents." The resulting backlash -- not even directly from Bush -- so absolutely devastated Rather and CBS' credibility that it led to his premature retirement (he is leaving less than a year short of his 25th anniversary of taking the anchor desk) and CBS is still struggling to assert its relevance.

Eason Jordan had been spouting off unsubstantiated cheap shots against the US military for years. He finally went too far, presuming his invincibility and ability to toss off outrageous remarks without being called on them would last forever. Then he did it in front of a blogger and a couple Democratic members of Congress who have integrity and respect for the armed services, and it ended his career heading up CNN.

"When you strike at a king, you must kill him." Such a simple notion, yet so important. And so tragically true.



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Comments (7)

"If you start to take V... (Below threshold)

"If you start to take Vienna - take Vienna."

- Napoleon Bonaparte

Or, as I like to say, when you set out to accomplish your goals in life, don't go about things half-assed. Use your whole ass.

It is my view that what is ... (Below threshold)
Allan Yackey:

It is my view that what is going on extends far beyond the ability of the powerful to strike back. Our good Professor Ward Campbell was not attacking powerful people. And yet he is suffering the same fate as Dan Rather for his actions.

The import and impact of what is going on seems to even be hitting the subconscious of liberal commentators. Dan Carpenter, young left wing commentator in the Indianapolis Star wrote a column Sunday that was pure sublimation of his political concerns.


On the surface the column was about a poem that he really liked. The poem was about a painting. He used the Internet to find and look at the painting. He was disappointed in what he saw.

In the end he lamented that without modern technology he would have never seen the painting and would have remained happy with the thoughts he had as a result of the poem.

How much happier he and Dan Rather would be if it was still the old days where the fiction they write and broadcast could not be quickly fact checked and debunked.

good post J... (Below threshold)

good post J

Point well taken. All the s... (Below threshold)

Point well taken. All the same, this talk of striking and attacking is starting to concern ol' ZuD a bit. It's not as if I am a weenie, but can't we all just get along? Every time my Blogline blinks, it's all so contentious! I might have to turn it off for awhile to avoid getting a panic attack!

Hmmmm. Perhaps Basheer Assa... (Below threshold)

Hmmmm. Perhaps Basheer Assad might have similar thoughts after assassinating the former PM of Lebanon...

Methinks there's a good bit of fashion accessory pulling going on in that whole story. Assad should be advised against spitting into the wind, pulling the mask off the old Lone Ranger and he most assuredly shouldn't mess with Slim.

Dan started work on the TAN... (Below threshold)
Jo macDougal:

Dan started work on the TANG smear in 1998. There was *NO RUSH*. He and Mary just did a poor job. But Viacom spent tens of $millions over almost six years "researching" Rather. Hardly what I call a rush!

Actually, I think Machiavel... (Below threshold)

Actually, I think Machiavelli wrote this idea in The Prince in the 16th century and Sun Tsu before him, quite a bit before Emerson was born. I don't have a copy with me and my memory may be faulty, but I recall words something like - never wound a prince. The idea being that if you must strike, strike to kill.






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