A fine tribute
By Dr. Robert Owens
The multiple poodle-press pronouncements delivered from behind the curtain make it appear the Wizard of O is leading in several directions at once. The media's reporting-by-press-release contradicts itself. I agree with the Omaniacs on the talk show circuit with thrills running down their legs when they say our rock-star president is smart and has an agenda. Therefore, when I look at all the contradictions I cannot attribute any of it to a lack intelligence or direction. When the actions of intelligent, motivated people make no sense perhaps we're looking at them through the wrong lenses. Perhaps instead of using their words to discover their goals we should follow their actions looking to the foundation to judge the house being built.
The Wall Street Journal says "Obama Aspires to a 'Light Touch,' Not a Heavy Hand." The Los Angeles Times states "Obama to propose strict new regulation of financial industry. … The plan would give the government new powers to seize key companies whose failure jeopardizes the financial system, as well as creation of a watchdog agency to look out for consumers' interests."
The Washington Post reports Mr. Obama complains, "worrying about the U.S. government's finances 'keeps me awake at night' and the country needed to start planning now to tackle soaring deficits." According to Newsweek , the President says "It's OK to borrow to pay for health care." and "Obama-proposed budget rules allow deficits to swell to pay for health care plan"
The Washington Post writes "President Obama proposed today to rein in spending on federal health programs for the elderly and the poor by an additional $313 billion over the next decade, bringing his total proposed savings to nearly $950 billion -- enough to cover the full cost of sweeping health reform." While in the New York Times "President Obama will propose further tax increases on the affluent to help pay for his promise to make health care more accessible and affordable, calling for stricter limits on the benefits of itemized deductions taken by the wealthiest households, administration officials said."
The lap-dogs of the mainstream media report whatever handed them as holy writ from Mount Chicago. No one asks obvious questions. If Mr. O wants a light touch why does it feel like the heavy hand? If the state of government finances keeps him awake at night why is he proposing unprecedented new spending? If healthcare will save money why do we need to raise taxes to pay for it?
This abrupt and massive turn to the left did not happen in a vacuum. The clique from Chicago and their charismatic Organizer did not spring whole from the hallowed halls of Hyde Park. To understand who and what has triumphed in the November Revolution it's necessary to take a look at the body of work left by their philosophical and organizational mentor Saul Alinsky.
Alinsky was a committed Marxist who worked on the Southside of Chicago. He outlined his beliefs and his strategies in two books Reveille for Radicals (1946) and Rules for Radicals (1972). Seeking to subvert and supplant America's capitalistic system by the socialist one he advocated Alinsky built an organization and a curriculum to enlist and train community organizers to turn the American people into the proletariat needed for Socialist Revolution. Although he advocated infiltrating the middleclass through education and appearance it is not hard to learn that he wanted to change a nation "adrift in the stormy sea of capitalism." His goal was always to help America "advance from the jungle of laissez-faire capitalism to a world worthy of the name of human civilization." His work was meant to provide "hope for a future where the means of production will be owned by all of the people instead of just a comparative handful." This is the world Alinsky envisioned.
Reflecting on the opposing statements and positions chronicled in the beginning of this article does the following sound familiar? From Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals "RULE 8: Keep the pressure on. Never let up. Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new. (Attack, attack, attack from all sides, never giving the reeling organization a chance to rest, regroup, recover and re-strategize.)"
Some say the Right manufactured the connection between Alinsky and Obama to tar Him with the Marxist brush. A letter written by Alinsky's son David printed in The Boston Globe a few days after the 2008 Democratic Convention shows the followers of Alinsky are claiming Tony Rezko's neighbor as one of their own, "All the elements were present: the individual stories told by real people of their situations and hardships, the packed-to-the rafters crowd, the repetition-chanting by the crowd of key phrases and names, the immediate action-taking on the spot by texting and phoning to show instant support and commitment to jump into the political battle, the rallying selections of music, the setting the agenda by the power persons. The Democratic National Convention had all the elements of the perfectly organized event, Saul Alinsky style. Barak Obama's training in Chicago by the great community organizers is showing its effectiveness. It is an amazingly powerful format, and the Alinsky method always works to get the message out and get the supporters onboard. When executed meticulously and thoughtfully, it is a powerful strategy for initiating change and making it really happen. Obama learned his lesson well. I am pleased to see that my father's model for organizing is now being applied successfully beyond local community organizing to impact the Democratic campaign in 2008. It is a fine tribute to Saul Alinsky as we approach his 100th birthday."
Dr. Robert Owens teaches History, Political Science, Religion, and Leadership for Southside Virginia Community College. Contact Dr. Owens. © 2009 Robert R. Owens. Dr. Owens is available for speaking engagements.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!