Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Newt Gingrich Brings Saul Alinsky (Who?) Into the 2012 Campaign – And Does Anybody Care?

But Is the Name “Saul Alinsky” Just Another Bigoted Code Word?

One of the odder campaign themes of soon to be Republican front runner Newt Gingrich is that President Obama is a “Saul Alinsky” radical.  Now for those who grew to maturity in the 1950’s and 1960’s, this name might actually resonate in the dead and dying cells of memory. For the rest of us, well what does it matter?

Saul Alinsky in Chicago in 1966.

Here is some info on Mr. Alinsky.  First of all Mr. Alinsky has been dead for almost 40 years, so exactly what his relevance is in the current political  and governmental arena is problematical.  But Mr. Alinsky was a person who organized for political goals, and his organization skills are widely admired and copied on both sides of the political divide.

Mr. Alinsky, who died in 1972 at age 63, was a Chicago-born social-movement organizer whose success has been praised by Democrats and Republicans alike. He was grudgingly admired by conservative hero William F. Buckley Jr., who called him "very close to being an organizational genius." Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, a Republican, gives copies of Mr. Alinsky's book "Rules for Radicals" to tea-party leaders.

In fact, the tea party tactics of two years ago, where they attended and disrupted town hall type meetings are right out of Mr. Alinsky.  As for those tactics,
Mr. Alinsky didn't believe in violence; his bomb-throwing was purely verbal. His approach involved interviewing people one by one to identify a common self-interest that could be used to galvanize the group. He had no faith in the political system to effect change for the people it ignored, and believed heavy pressure from outside was the only way to force the wheels of government to turn.

Wow, that does sound like the Tea Party activists, doesn't it.

All of which brings us to the question as to why Mr. Gingrich keeps referring to Mr. Alinsky in his attacks on Mr. Obama, who in his past political career and the three years of his presidency has done none of that. .  (If there is a problem with Mr. Obama it is that he has too much, not too little faith in the political system to change things).

Here’s one explanation.  Mr. Gingrich is accusing the President of being a European type socialist, and Mr. Alinsky has a European like name.  Not the good kind of European name, like an English or German or Scandinavian type name, but an eastern European like name.  So the implication Mr. Gingrich is making is that by associating Mr. Obama with an eastern (Communist?, Socialist?, Foreigner?) European Jewish radical maybe Mr. Obama is not really the true American he claims to be.

Would Mr. Gingrich do such a thing?  Gosh, what in his past statements would ever make on think that?

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