Right-wing pseudo-bombshell: Barack Obama once attended a play about Saul Alinsky!

One of the funniest things about today’s breed of political reactionaries is their paranoid demonization of legendary community organizer Saul Alinsky (above), who’s been dead for lo these 40 years.

Never mind that latter-day disciples of Alinsky’s work include more than a few conservative activists, even some Tea Party leaders.

Never mind that former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey approvingly passes around copies of Alinsky’s book “Rules For Radicals” (see HERE).

Never mind that Alinsky was a recipient of the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award, which was inspired by Pope John XXIII. (Another recipient was that notorious troublemaker Mother Teresa.)

Never mind that John Mitovich, president of the Rockford Area Chamber of Commerce in the early 1970s, extolled Alinsky’s organizing techniques.

No, none of that matters to the rightist crazies who see the ghost of Alinsky as a bogeyman who stalks the land even today, mainly in the person of Barack Obama.

If you Google the names “Obama” and “Alinsky,” you get nearly 3 million results, many of which are fraught with right-wing heebie-jeebies.

And now, the legacy of Andrew Breitbart, the conservative activist who died last week (HERE), is about to be invoked in the form of a pseudo-scandal exposing new evidence of Obama’s close ties to Alinsky.

Charles Johnson gives us a sneak preview HERE:

The earth-shattering scoop that will blow this baby wide open can now be revealed: 14 years ago Obama attended a play in Chicago.

Yes! A play!

The subject of this nefarious play: the dreaded Saul Alinsky.

UPDATE: The Breitbart stuff is HERE. (Brace yourself. It’s a stunner.)

UPDATE II: Uh-oh! The scandal widens!

This picture of Alinsky shaking hands with George Romney, Mitt’s father, has been unearthed:







  1. A legacy of barrel scrapings.

  2. RedRover

    Consider this, all ye of the reactionary right: Obama is LEFT-handed!
    (The Horror! The Horror!)

  3. expdoc

    The father of the politics of personal destruction. He wasn’t a hero unless you favor anarchy and bullies ruling the day. Read his rules and never wonder again why the quality of our political leaders is so poor.

    Here are the rules for those who haven’t read them:

    Rule 1: Power is not only what you have, but what an opponent thinks you have. If your organization is small, hide your numbers in the dark and raise a din that will make everyone think you have many more people than you do.

    Rule 2: Never go outside the experience of your people.
    The result is confusion, fear, and retreat.

    Rule 3: Whenever possible, go outside the experience of an opponent. Here you want to cause confusion, fear, and retreat.

    Rule 4: Make opponents live up to their own book of rules. “You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.”

    Rule 5: Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It’s hard to counterattack ridicule, and it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.

    Rule 6: A good tactic is one your people enjoy. “If your people aren’t having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic.”

    Rule 7: A tactic that drags on for too long becomes a drag. Commitment may become ritualistic as people turn to other issues.

    Rule 8: Keep the pressure on. Use different tactics and actions and use all events of the period for your purpose. “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition. It is this that will cause the opposition to react to your advantage.”

    Rule 9: The threat is more terrifying than the thing itself. When Alinsky leaked word that large numbers of poor people were going to tie up the washrooms of O’Hare Airport, Chicago city authorities quickly agreed to act on a longstanding commitment to a ghetto organization. They imagined the mayhem as thousands of passengers poured off airplanes to discover every washroom occupied. Then they imagined the international embarrassment and the damage to the city’s reputation.

    Rule 10: The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative. Avoid being trapped by an opponent or an interviewer who says, “Okay, what would you do?”

    Rule 11: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it. Don’t try to attack abstract corporations or bureaucracies. Identify a responsible individual. Ignore attempts to shift or spread the blame.

  4. Good job, doc. You’ve listed some of the same Alinsky teachings that are emulated by more than a few conservative activists (including some Tea Party folks) as well as by liberals.

    But you’ve betrayed your political naivete with your disdain for those teachings.

    There’s an old saying that “politics ain’t beanbag,” but you apparently don’t understand that. You don’t recognize that almost every successful political movement in this country, beginning with the Democratic-Republican movement led by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, has employed more than a few of the strategies articulated by Alinsky.

    You seem to have read or heard somewhere that Alinsky was some kind of rotten commie pinko, and you’ve believed it.

    The great irony is that some of the politicians for whom you’ve expressed admiration here over the past few years have employed some of those Alinsky teachings that you’re denouncing.

  5. By the way, doc, at the end of this comment, there’s a link to an excellent blog post about Alinsky, which includes lots of videos and observations and other stuff (including a link to a video clip of a William Buckley interview with Alinsky).

    One of my favorite parts of this blog post is where Alinsky is asked if he ever considered joining the Communist Party. He replied:

    “Not at any time. I’ve never joined any organization—not even the ones I’ve organized myself. I prize my own independence too much. And philosophically, I could never accept any rigid dogma or ideology, whether it’s Christianity or Marxism. One of the most important things in life is what Judge Learned Hand described as ‘that ever-gnawing inner doubt as to whether you’re right.’ If you don’t have that, if you think you’ve got an inside track to absolute truth, you become doctrinaire, humorless and intellectually constipated. The greatest crimes in history have been perpetrated by such religious and political and racial fanatics, from the persecutions of the Inquisition on down to Communist purges and Nazi genocide.”

    Here’s the link:


  6. expdoc

    No Pat, you are wrong again. I am not naive and I completely understand.

    I listed the teachings of Alinsky so your readers could see the pitiful tactics that you and others who play your destructive games live their lives by.

    You forget, I have a real life ,you have this blog and the political games you enjoy.

    I denounce you, Alinsky, Limbaugh, Obama, Gingrich, Democrats, Republicans and anyone who uses such tactics. It is the tactics that you all find so acceptable that keep good people from going into politics and result in some of the incompetents that become career politicians.

    As always, you are part of the problem. Too bad you incapable of being part of the solution.

  7. doc: Tell it to Jefferson and Madison.

    Tell it to Scott Walker and Ron Johnson and the other Wisconsin Republicans you so admire, all of whom emulate some of Alinsky’s methods.

    Tell it to the Tea Party people about whom you’ve never offered a discouraging word.

    Your political naivete is exceeded only by your political hypocrisy. If you’re going to stick with the so-called principles you’ve mentioned here, you might as well give up on politics altogether. Don’t ever try again to sing the praises of some right-wing hero of yours unless you’re sure that he or she never employs Alinsky-like tactics. If you do that, we’ll never hear another peep from you about Scott Walker, will we?

  8. expdoc

    Interesting quote in your second post. When you boil it down , I think he is saying that he is smarter than everyone else and refuses to join any organization that might co-opt his brilliance.

    It’s also an interesting quote through which to think about the climate change debate.

  9. My God, doc, you can’t even read!

    You ascribe to Alinsky an arrogant attitude that “he is smarter than everyone else and refuses to join any organization that might co-opt his brilliance.”

    But what he said was almost exactly the opposite: “One of the most important things in life is what Judge Learned Hand described as ‘that ever-gnawing inner doubt as to whether you’re right.’ If you don’t have that, if you think you’ve got an inside track to absolute truth, you become doctrinaire, humorless and intellectually constipated.”

    Your bias, doc, is making you almost illiterate.

  10. expdoc

    It would seem that currently, all politicians must play by the rules in order to be in the game, so to hold that against them at the time of an election would mean my vote would be null and void.

    Interesting observation though about giving up on politics. I think I have, certainly as it relates to my daily life and following the idiots on a blow by blow basis. No wonder politicians and political entities have such dismal approval numbers.

    It is really all a big game, played by Mr. Alinsky’s rules, of which I only want to stay involved to the extent that I support the politician that most represents my views. Any more time spent on the topic seems to be a waste of my time.

  11. expdoc

    You missed the first part of the quote.

    He says he would never join ANY organization because he prides himself on his independence. I would think that means his ability to decide what is right and wrong for him personally, at any given moment in time.

  12. Oh, no. We can’t have people deciding for themselves what’s right and wrong on the basis of their own beliefs and consciences. No. Other people should decide for them.

  13. Yeah, I once watched a TV documentary on Adolph Hitler. Fortunately Breitbart died before he could smear my reputation on the subject as a closet Reich-Winger.

  14. expdoc

    OK, Pat.

    But clearly, I can read and you were wrong.

  15. Clearly nothing, pinhead.

    You suggested that Alinksy considered himself too smart to join any organization.

    But what he said was the opposite. He said he shied from joining organizations, even those he had helped establish, because he feared falling into the trap of thinking he was always right, which an organization of like-minded folks might encourage. He wanted to avoid thinking that he had “an inside track to absolute truth,” which could make him “become doctrinaire, humorless and intellectually constipated.”

    He couldn’t have been more clear on the matter. But you insist on denigrating the man, because you decided long ago that he was some kind of villain, and all the evidence to the contrary in the post above is not going to sway you. So, you read into his remarks crap he never said — even in the face of proof that he said the opposite.

  16. expdoc

    I didn’t denigrate anything.

    I listed his actual rules for radicals. That made him look bad because it is self-evident that anyone who would operate by those rules is a thug and a bully. Yes that includes Republicans, Democrats and you.

    Don’t be ashamed of who you are Pat. Embrace it. You earned it.

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