Bill Whalen: Politi-Cal

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A Nation-State of Sun (Tzu) Worshipers?

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Interesting little item in this morning’s San Francisco Chronicle about California Attorney General Jerry Brown referring to the ancient Chinese general/strategist Sun Tzu as his political north star.

While reporters all rush to recite the most famous line from The Art of War — “all warfare is based on deception” (even Charlie Sheen uttered it in Wall Street) — here’s another quote more apropos to the enigmatic Brown and his even more enigmatic run for governor:

“Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.”

So is Sun Tzu the best role model for a past governor, at present, campaigning to be a future governor?

Sure, it worked wonders for Napoleon in Europe and the American brass in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm.

And it’s a nice change of pace after the candidates’ preferred reading material — some of it good, some of it sketchy (Mitt Romney cited both the Bible and Battlefield Earth, by Scientology founder L. Ronn Hubbard) — from the last presidential election

Then again, Mao Zedog and Ho Chi Minh also read Sun Tzu’s book and put his tactics to use in 20th Century warfare, much to the chagrin of American interests (ladies and gentlemen, your first attack ad of the fall campaign: a side-by-side of Jerry Brown and a couple of Communist icons).

That, and there’s something uncomfortable about the word “sun”.

As in . . . Sun Microsystems, recently gobbled up by Oracle and whose CEO resigned via Twitter?

As in . . . the Phoenix Suns, always entertaining and always coming up short in their quest for an NBA title?

As in . . . Sun-Earth Day 2010 (March 21), a NASA program to show, among other things, how magnetism works (which sounds good, unless they used to call you “Governor Moonbeam”).

btw, a couple of side notes about Sun Tzu.

1)  Some question whether he really existed, and if his work was the product of just one man. Sounds like a new project for the Obama birth certificate crowd.

2) Art of War was written ca. 500 B.C., a little before the Brown Administration.


Written by Bill Whalen

March 1, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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