"No retreat... no surrender... that is Spartan law!"
- This Angry Bodybuilder I Keep Seeing in Ads for Some Movie
"No retreat/no surrender" has been coming up a lot lately. It's Leonidas' rallying cry in 300. It appears to be the extent of our vision for Iraq. It was John Kerry's campaign song. (And look how well that turned out.) And now it's the title of Tom DeLay's memoirs.
Actually, the full title of the DeLay book - which came out Wednesday -- is No Retreat, No Surrender: One American's Fight. Yes, it's a story so bellicose, even the subtitle is scrappy.
And he's earned the right to talk tough, too. Not just because of his own student deferments, but also by the student deferments of Rush Limbaugh (who wrote the foreword) and the "other priorities" of Sean Hannity (who wrote the preface) and the book's co-author, Stephen Mansfield.
Four fightin' Americans. Zero seconds in uniform. $25.95 at bookstores everywhere.
No retreat. No surrender. No shame.
(Stephen Mansfield is a truly special case, by the way. His avoidance of military service - -not that there's anything wrong with that -- hasn't stopped him from writing The Faith of the American Solider, or American Heroes: Stories of Faith, Courage and Sacrifice from the Front Lines or an open letter to Cindy Sheehan where he tells her she's threatening to "dishonor Casey's heroism.")
(How did he get to be on a first name basis with Casey Sheehan? He certainly didn't run into him in combat.)
(It's almost like he's an asswipe.)
I don't care that Tom DeLay ducked the draft. It's the only good thing I've ever heard about him. But he's the one who keeps calling himself a revolutionary and describing everything in G.I. Joe-speak.
In No Retreat, he calls Newt Gingrich:
"... a wonderful field general who loved to fight and knew how to rally troops to battle."
Field general? Fight? Rally? Troops? Battle? We're talking about Newt Gingrich. A bookish fatso. He's not Robert E. Lee. He's Sara Lee. Newt Gingrich spent the Vietnam War in the killing fields of the history department at Tulane. And that's perfectly fine. He would have screwed up the army, too. But come on.
Here's DeLay on fundraising.
"... People often ask me how I am able to raise so much money. It is very simple: I believe in what I'm doing. I tell potential donors that people like me are working their butts off to advance conservative values, and that those outside the battlefield should give to make victory for our values possible."
In other words, Jack Abramoff wasn't buying influence; he was buying Victory Bonds. And have you seen Tom DeLay's butt? If that's what it looks like "worked off," I'd hate to see it at rest.
I'd rather advance in the face of fire.
Everything is a fight with DeLay. Here he is on the Texas House:
"I hated these people. I thought they were in power to destroy my country, and I had no intention of giving them one inch."
How would Gadalf the Grey put it? "YOU SHALL NOT PASS... LEGISLATION!!!"
And here he is, talking about how his father caught him smoking, tried to make him smoke until he got sick, to teach him a lesson, and how DeLay smoked two packs while he watched, but stoutly refused to learn anything.
"Finally, Dad stormed from the room and I knew I had won."
Which is a shame, not just for his health, but because he could use those two packs of cigarettes, for when he goes to jail.
There are lots of other examples, but you see what I mean.
Why do some Republicans insist on describing everything in military terms? Bill O'Reilly (who didn't go to war) is a "culture warrior." Lou Dobbs (who never served) is defending a "War on the Middle Class." William Bennett (who never fought) has written a book called Why We Fight. And Ann Coulter wears army boots.
No. That's a childish thing to say. What I meant to say is she's a lesbian.
Speaking of not retreating or surrendering...
Napoleon, in his Maxims, tells us that going forward is better than going backward and capitulation -- in the open field -- is the height of cowardice. But he also provides instructions for both orderly retreat and honorable surrender. This is because Napoleon was an actual soldier, and not just some idiot.
And it's why "strategy" and "stubbornness" are two different words.
If your enemy knows you never retreat and never surrender, he has a strategic advantage. Because you don't know what he's going to do, but he knows your plan is to stand in one place and either die or not.
C'est magnifique, mais ... no, it's not even magnificent. It's just being a dunderhead.
FUN AT HOME:
Here's one more quote from Tom DeLay's No Retreat, No Surrender:
"Liberals blaming me for corruption in Washington is like the KKK blaming Martin Luther King, Jr. for an epidemic of burning crosses."
What could he possibly think he means? It's like when someone spray paints graffiti, but they make the swastika facing the wrong way. How important is authorial intent? Can an analogy be offensive even if it's impossible to understand?
Imagine Tom DeLay and Jacques Derrida get stuck in an elevator. What do they talk about?