Saturday, February 18, 2006

Poker party

David Mamet:

In politics as in poker, the only way to win is to seize the initiative. The Democrats need to make bold wagers or risk being rolled over again.

ONE NEEDS TO know but three words to play poker: call, raise or fold. Fold means keep the money, I'm out of the hand; call means to match your opponents' bet. That leaves raise, which is the only way to win at poker. The raiser puts his opponent on the defensive, seizing the initiative. Initiative is only important if one wants to win. ...

If you are branded as passive, the table will roll right over you -- your opponents will steal antes without fear. Why? Because the addicted caller has never exhibited what, in the wider world, is known as courage. In poker, one must have courage: the courage to bet, to back one's convictions, one's intuitions, one's understanding. There can be no victory without courage. The successful player must be willing to wager on likelihoods. Should he wait for absolutely risk-free certainty, he will win nothing, regardless of the cards he is dealt.

For example, take a player who has never acted with initiative -- he has never raised, merely called. Now, at the end of the evening, he is dealt a royal flush. The hand, per se, is unbeatable, but the passive player has never acted aggressively; his current bet (on the sure thing) will signal to the other players that his hand is unbeatable, and they will fold. His patient, passive quest for certainty has won nothing.

The Democrats, similarly, in their quest for a strategy that would alienate no voters, have given away the store, and they have given away the country.

Committed Democrats ... watched, passively, while the Bush administration concocted a phony war; they, in the main, voted for the war knowing it was purposeless, out of fear of being thought weak. They then ran a candidate who refused to stand up to accusations of lack of patriotism.

The Republicans, like the perpetual raiser at the poker table, became increasingly bold as the Democrats signaled their absolute reluctance to seize the initiative. ...

One may sit at the poker table all night and never bet and still go home broke, having anted away one's stake. The Democrats are anteing away their time at the table. They may be bold and risk defeat, or be passive and ensure it.

I have so had it with our Democratic leadership and their well-fed consultants that urge caution, always more caution. There was an incredible exchange at Kos two days ago when Nancy Pelosi posted one of her "we're fighting for you!" diaries and people, after some initial reflexive fawning, finally just lost it in the comments. You have to sift through some drivel, but there's a lot of eloquent passion, pleading, and disgust that's worth a read.

Like this:

If you're unwilling to stand up to a lying, doughy troll like Karl Rove, what reason do you give anyone to believe you'll stand up to Al Qaeda?

For roughly half of this country, the debate is truly that simple. In a post-9/11 world, people respect strength and conviction -- and Democrats aren't showing much of either.

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