“You know, if you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything, wouldn’t you, at any time? And you would achieve nothing!” —Margaret Thatcher
George W. Bush was a decent man who went to the White House with good intentions to “change the tone of politics in Washington.” He wanted to make it more civil. He thought he could do that by compromising with Democrats. He wanted the Beltway press core and the Democrat leadership to see that he could be bipartisan and fair.
Above all, he wanted everybody to see what a nice guy he was. He wanted them to like him. So much so, that in his first term he didn’t veto a single bill that came to his desk. We know how that worked out. Democrats and Beltway journalists didn’t want any part of what he was trying to sell. They hated him. They hated him the same way school children hate the victim of the bully. They were the bullies, and bullies never respect those who do not stand up to them.
You can never make a bully like you. You can never make him leave you alone by being nice to him. There is only one way to gain respect from a bully. You have to punch back twice as hard.
Police are trained for this. The call it “escalation of force principles.” It recognizes that you have to play by the rules of the aggressor. In every conflict, whether in politics, civil altercations or all out war, the aggressor makes the rules. The responder either accepts that or gets his butt kicked.
A perfect example of this principle can be seen in Obama’s negotiations with Iran. They cleaned his clock and he doesn’t even know what happened. Mitt Romney never went on the attack against Obama in 2012 even though there were a multitude of opportunities. Mitt Romney is a nice guy. We know what happens to nice guys, they lose ignominiously.
None of this means a nice guy has to become a jerk. He only has to respond appropriately and forcefully to the vicious tactics of his political opponents. In the “prisoners dilemma” game only the tit for tat responders win or hold position.
Carly Fiorina showed Republicans how to stand up to media bullies when she refused to allow Jake Tapper to put words in her mouth. He was surprised because he isn’t used to Republicans who won’t put up with his nonsense.
A little woman from the mother country understood all this perfectly. Carly Fiorina may have this savvy as well. Big strong men who don’t get it are doomed to defeat and disgrace.