Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Limits of Rule 13

President Obama, we are told, is an avid student of Saul Alinsky, the lefty that developed the art of community organizing into a science.  And nothing that Alinsky said or did eclipses his famous Rule 13 on page 130 of Rules for Radicals.
Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.
That's how you keep your supporters amped up and committed to the cause.

But there's a problem and I trust that the president and his handlers understand it.  The whole lefty political-action playbook is based on a vital assumption.  It is that "we", the community organizer and his flock, are the underdogs.  "We" are oppressed and marginalized by the big corporation or the big government that bears down on us and exploits us like slaves, and against which we are peacefully protesting.

But suppose that "we" is the Obama administration of the United States of America.  Doesn't it get a bit difficult to pose as the underdog when you have $3.8 trillion, the Pentagon, the FBI, the Justice Department and the EPA at your command?

This morning there's a flap about an Obama internet ad that attacks Sarah Palin, among others.  Was this wise?  Let us count the ways:
  1. What with the movie Game Change I thought Sarah Palin was an ignorant idiot that didn't know what the Fed does.  So why would she be worth the bother of an attack?  All it does it give her the opportunity to sound like she knows something after all. "Party like it's 1773" and all that.
  2. It deploys the power and might of the United States government against a private person.  Liberals have demolished whole National Forests declaiming against the McCarthyite witch-hunts of the 1950s.  You'll remember that the big deal was using the power of government to persecute innocent individuals with unpopular views.
  3. Back to the point about Alinsky.  If you are the government, and you are freezing, personalizing, and polarizing some individual, a lot of people are going to think, wow, next thing they will be coming for me.
There is no question that the president and his top aides, men like red-diaper baby David Axelrod, are really smart when it comes to the day-to-day tactics of political campaigns.  But you don't want to give a has-been like Sarah Palin a chance to write this about the president's failures:
Just off the top of my head, a few of these concerning issues include: a debt crisis that has us hurtling towards a Greek-style collapse, entitlement programs going bankrupt, a credit downgrade for the first time in our history, a government takeover of the health care industry that makes care more expensive and puts a rationing panel of faceless bureaucrats between you and your doctor (aka a “death panel”), $4 and $5 gas at the pump exacerbated by an anti-drilling agenda that rejects good paying energy sector jobs and makes us more dependent on dangerous foreign regimes, a war in Afghanistan that seems unfocused and unending, a global presidential apology tour that’s made us look feeble and ridiculous, a housing market in the tank, the longest streak of high unemployment since World War II, private-sector job creators and industry strangled by burdensome regulations and an out-of-control Obama EPA, an attack on the Constitutional protection of religious liberty, an attack on private industry in right-to-work states, crony capitalism run amok in an administration in bed with their favored cronies to the detriment of genuine free market capitalism, green energy pay-to-play kickbacks to Obama campaign donors, and a Justice Department still stonewalling on a bungled operation that armed violent Mexican drug lords and led to the deaths of hundreds of innocent people.

I’m sure I missed a few things, but the list is just for starters.
I know, I know.  Sarah Palin didn't actually write all that (although it does contain some of her rhetorical tics like "fearful" and "detriment").  But then President Obama doesn't write his stuff either.

I tell you what I think.  I think that in the last week we've seen some blood in the water.  Everyone thought the Obama administration was cleaning up on its opponents and winning the message war.  Yet all of a sudden, the polls are turning south and the president looks vulnerable.  So maybe while the courtiers were applauding the Obamis were shooting themselves in the foot.

And here's why.  I think that the American people expect the president to be presidential.  He is, after all, supposed to be president of all the people, not just his liberal base.  It's a tricky thing, running for reelection as president.  You want to destroy your opponent, but you need to present yourself as the sunny, confident father of the people.  It's not as easy as it looks.

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