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January 28, 2012

Palin on Establishment Cannibals

Sarah Palin's latest post taking the Establishment to task for using Alinsky tactics against Newt Gingrich is noteworthy for how out of step it feels with the rest of the Tea Party and, indeed, Gingrich's own campaign.

Rather than reject Alinsky's rules for radicals, the Tea Party has adopted many of them in the spirit of fighting fire with fire. Tea Party leader Michael Patrick Leahy wrote a book about it called "Rules for Conservative Radicals," which encouraged conservatives to "follow the tactics of Saul Alinsky, but apply the morals and ethics of Martin Luther King." James O'Keefe was also inspired by Alinsky, particularly Rule 4: "Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules." FreedomWorks, a Tea Party-affiliated group (although it's based in D.C. and chaired by uber-Establishment figure Dick Armey), boasted in 2009 that "Rules for Radicals" was the first book given to every new employee. Conservative organizers were teaching activists about "Rules for Radicals" at training sessions throughout 2009 (see here, for example).

So it's surprising to me to see Palin complaining about Alinsky tactics now. Having enthusiastically embraced these tactics back when their anger was directed at Obama, it's not surprising to see Republicans pointing their new-found tactics at each other. A tool is a tool and there's no denying that these folks want to win, whether they're competing against Obama or competing against a fellow Republican.

And speaking of a fellow Republican who employs Alinsky tactics, I can think of nobody in the campaign more enthusiastic about Alinsky than Gingrich. Here's Phil Klein:

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.

The whole thing is farce from top to bottom. Gingrich as a Washington outsider? Get real.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 01:27 PM

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