One of the more amusing memes coming from the loony right, especially the Glenn Beck set, for the last three years is the obsessive focus on the formerly obscure Saul Alinsky. Newt Gingrich has adopted the Glenn Beck line that Alinsky was plotting to destroy American society and that Obama is the Lenin to his Marx.
The arguments are idiotic, amounting to little more than, “Saul Alinsky suggested dividing one’s opponents as a political tactic; Obama tries to divide his political opponents. Therefore Obama is trying to follow Alinsky’s blueprint to destroy the country.” QED, right? Well, no. It’s especially ironic coming from people like Newt or Beck, whose entire raison d’etre is to divide people. Philip Kline points out the irony that no one is following Alinsky’s tactics more than Newt:
But if any candidate is using Saul Alinsky’s playbook in this campaign, it’s Gingrich himself.
In his seminal 1971 work, “Rules for Radicals,” left-wing community organizer Alinsky laid out his method for instigating change. Many of the tactics he spoke about — such as exploiting resentment and pitting oneself against the establishment — have become a central part of Gingrich’s strategy for securing the Republican presidential nomination.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press” this past Sunday, Gingrich attributed his South Carolina victory to two things. The first was the economic pain that people were feeling. He then continued, “The second, though, which I think nobody in Washington and New York gets, is the level of anger at the national establishment.”
Gingrich’s clashes against the establishment are classic Alinsky.
“The job of the organizer is to maneuver and bait the establishment so that it will publicly attack him as a ‘dangerous enemy,’” Alinsky wrote in “Rules for Radicals.” He went on to reveal that, “Today, my notoriety and the hysterical instant reaction of the establishment not only validate my credentials of competency but also ensure automatic popular invitation.”
Though Gingrich has spent several decades profiting from being part of the Washington establishment, the fact that he’s been attacked by so-called “elites” has become self-validating.
And the way he scolded CNN moderator John King in last Thursday’s South Carolina debate followed Alinsky’s 13th tactical rule, which states: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”
I guess that makes Newt into the Lenin in this occasion.
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