“The Power of Networking,” by Ramesh Ponnuru, The Corner, 21 July 2005, http://corner.nationalreview.com/05_07_17_corner-archive.asp#070339.
I have been blogging about 5th Generation War, a type of conflict centered on secrecy and conspiracies. “5th Generation” tactics have widely been used in software development for a while. However, I did not mention whether or not “5th Generation” tactics are used in modern politics.
I have not been able to find a “true” 5th Generation Political network, but a commentary on National Review‘s website made me realize at least some of it (conspiracy) is here now (hyperlinks mine):
Many people have commented on the Roberts nomination as the continuation of the Republicans’ post-Bork “stealth strategy”–and also on the failure of that strategy in the case of David Souter. Conservatives suspicious of Roberts note that many conservatives vouched for Souter in 1990, too.
But I don’t think it’s true that as many conservatives with firsthand knowledge of Souter spoke as highly of him as are now speaking highly of Roberts. If I recall correctly–I wasn’t following these things closely at the time–he wasn’t the first pick of any conservative (I know several impeccably conservative legal figures for whom Roberts was their top pick). Conservative Supreme Court watchers weren’t terribly familiar with him. John Sununu told everyone that Roberts was “a home run,” and conservatives, presented with the fait accompli, supported his nomination with varying degrees of enthusiasm.
In-the-know legal conservatives are much more supportive of, and in several cases enthusiastic about, Roberts. It may be that the development of the Federalist Society–and the maturation of conservatism, as David Brooks suggests today — has made it possible for conservatives to pull off the stealth strategy today in a way that was not possible fifteen years ago. People familiar with him signal his acceptability to their acquaintances, and the message radiates outward.
There are, of course, drawbacks to this approach. (In the forthcoming issue of the magazine I criticize one very important aspect of the stealth strategy–the notion, extremely popular among conservatives these days, that it’s inappropriate for senators to ask nominees pointed questions about their constitutional views.) Assuming that the goal is to get people with particular views or methodologies on the Court, a networking strategy runs a higher risk of yielding a Souter than a paper-trail strategy. It is also the case that one man’s elite network of lawyers is another man’s conspiracy.
Because the Republican sub-rosa vetting of Roberts happened in the context of existing Republican networks, it implies that a 4th Generation Network might evolve 5th Generation Components.
Another aspect of 5GP has also been adopted by the GOP to help Roberts: long preparation, rapid execution. MyDD and Crooks and Liars link to a Republican memo on Roberts uncovered by the Swing State Project. Republicans gave the Roberts nomination a long time for planning, analysis, and design, in order that its implementation be finished before SCOTUS reconfirms in October.
However, this is not true 5th Generation Politics
- The power-network supporting Roberts (conservative activists) are well known, and recognized as dangerous by liberals
- The individual John Roberts is well known, and recognized as dangerous by liberals
- Political mobilization will be vital in a successful confirmation to the Supreme Court
Interestingly, if Conservative adoption of 5GP elements continues, we may be able to know when rightist factions adopt 5GP if we see a sudden drop-off in 5GP activities. Perhaps once they truly understand conspiracies, they will be better at hiding them!