Ben Shapiro's new ebook How To Debate Leftists And Destroy Them: 10 Rules For Winning The Argument comes complete with eleven rules about how (and three more about when) conservatives should act like mean, nasty bullies, in order to help them defeat liberals, who have a tendency to make conservatives look like mean, nasty bullies.
Shapiro, the founder of TruthRevolt.com and editor-at-large for Breitbart.com, would rather be known as a debating champ than as the guy who fabricated a terror group to smear Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. He begins the book by claiming the real reason conservatives lost the 2012 election was that President Obama was "considered the more empathetic of the two candidates. Why? Because Romney was perceived as so darn mean." His solution is not for conservatives to follow Obama's lead and appear more empathetic in the future; his solution is to double down on looking mean. But how?
First, Shapiro offers a list of three rules for when to debate a leftist, including 1) you have to ("your grade depends on it, or your waiter threatens to spit in your food"); 2) you found the only leftist in the world ready to have a reasoned debate ("Then you ride off on your separate unicorns"), or 3) You have an audience, allowing you to publicly humiliate your opponent:
Third, you should debate a leftist if there is an audience. The goal of the debate will not be to win over the leftist, or to convince him or her, or to be friends with him or her. That person already disagrees with you, and they're not going to be convinced by your words of wisdom and your sparkling rhetorical flourishes. The goal will be to destroy the leftist in as public a way as is humanly possible. [emphasis added]
To be clear, one of Shapiro's primary rules for debating people with liberal values is to shame them in front of others, because President Obama won 2012 by looking too darn nice.
Next, Shapiro offers his list of "ten rules" for how to debate your leftist opponent, which includes eleven rules, because copy-editing your book before publication is not a rule.
Rule #1: "Walk Toward the Fire." According to Shapiro, conservatives must learn to "embrace the fight" and know that they will be attacked, because this is war. His advice is simple: "You have to take the punch, you have to brush it off. You have to be willing to take the punch."
Rule #2: "Hit First. Don't take the punch first." Rule number two is: ignore rule number one, if their punch is coming first. Hit first, then brush it off. Just like Gandhi always said.
Rule #3: "Frame Your Opponent." Your leftist opponent will, according to Shapiro, call you a racist and a sexist, so in response call them a "liar and a hater." This third rule is described as "the vital first step. It is the only first step." That's why it comes third.
Rule #3: "Frame the debate." This is the second Rule #3, but who's counting?
Rule #4: "Spot Inconsistencies in the Left's Arguments." See: Both Rule #3s.
Rule #5: "Force Leftists to Answer Questions. This is really just a corollary of Rule #4." According to Shapiro, forcing the left to answer questions is like "trying to pin pudding to the wall - messy and near-impossible." If Ben Shapiro can teach us how to pin pudding to a wall even some of the time, liberals have no hope.
Rule #6: "Do Not Get Distracted." Just one page after the pudding analogy, Shapiro tells us that "Arguing with the left is like attempting to nail jello to the wall. It's slippery and messy and a waste of resources." If only he hadn't gotten distracted.
Rule #7: "You Don't Have To Defend People on Your Side." Here, Shapiro comes out in defense of not always defending your allies when you don't agree with them on everything, or when they get something wrong. Shapiro's friends were no doubt grateful for this rule back when he reported on the imaginary group "Friends of Hamas" in order to smear Chuck Hagel.
Rule #8: "If You Don't Know Something, Admit It." Unfortunately, Shapiro doesn't seem to have taken his own advice here: he still refuses to admit he has zero evidence "Friends of Hamas" ever existed.
Rule #9: "Let The Other Side Have Meaningless Victories." This "parlor trick" involves making it look like you're giving the other side space, while forcing them to define their terms. Terms like 'bullying' (the premise of Shapiro's book) and 'the number ten' are not listed as examples.
Rule #10: "Body Language Matters." According to Shapiro, McCain lost one of his 2008 debates because he was "angry-looking," and "Whomever looks angriest in debate loses. Immediately."
So to recap, the only way conservatives can win debates is to not look angry, while publicly shaming their opponent, punching first, and calling their opponents liars and haters. And remember: all of this is equivalent to futilely pinning some kind of gelatinous dessert to a wall.
Conservatives should be soaring to victory any day now.
UPDATE: Sometime after the publication of this post, Shapiro's ebook title was changed to "11 Rules For Winning The Argument."
Right-wing activist Ben Shapiro is defending the launch of his new media site TruthRevolt against charges of hypocrisy and unconservative tactics by arguing conservatives need to follow the "tremendously successful" example of Media Matters. Shapiro added that Media Matters has "been able to so impact the debate that you see -- you know, talk show hosts are scared."
TruthRevolt officially launched this week with the intended mission to "unmask leftists in the media for who they are, destroy their credibility with the American public, and devastate their funding bases." TruthRevolt, which is positioning itself as the "anti-Media Matters," is led by editor in chief Shapiro and David Horowitz, who both have a history of accuracy problems and anti-progressive smears.
The group is the latest to position itself as the conservative answer to Media Matters. In 2009, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said that one thing conservatives needed in order to regain power was "communications organizations that can, again, match Media Matters."
Shapiro's organization hasn't found complete acceptance within the conservative movement. Daily Caller reporter Patrick Howley recently criticized the group, calling its push for a boycott of advertisers on MSNBC host Al Sharpton's program "shameful." He explained that Shapiro is emulating "Media Matters, which is a liberal organization that flags conservative P.C. violations and feeds them to the perpetually outraged liberal media. These tactics are completely antithetical to the promotion of an attractive conservative brand."
Shapiro encountered more resistance during an appearance on the October 9 edition of WMAL's Mornings on the Mall with hosts Larry O'Connor and Brian Wilson. O'Connor, who said Shapiro is a "good friend," began the interview by wondering, "You and I, we both share a loathing of the odious tactics of the left like Media Matters and Center for American Progress, trying to intimidate advertisers to get them off of shows like The Rush Limbaugh Show or, or Fox News. Why are you using those tactics?"
Conservatives have launched TruthRevolt, a website which aims to "unmask leftists in the media for who they are, destroy their credibility with the American public, and devastate their funding bases." The history of two main TruthRevolt figures, Ben Shapiro and David Horowitz, suggests the site won't prioritize accuracy or refrain from smears.