On March 23, 1943, an overconfident Afrika Korps ran into a well
prepared ambush at El Guettar, Tunisia. The lead German tanks were
slowed by a minefield, then devastated by pre-registered artillery and
anti-tank gun fire.
"Rommel, you magnificent bastard, I read your book!" gloated George C.
Scott, playing Gen. George S. Patton, in the 1970 movie "Patton."
The real Gen. Patton had read the Afrika Korps commander's 1937 book
"Infantry Attacks," and thus had a pretty good idea of the tactics Gen.
Erwin Rommel would employ.
The Obama administration has a playbook, too. It's "Rules for
Radicals," written in 1971 by Chicago Marxist Saul Alinsky, the
godfather of community organizing.
Mr. Obama's aides have faithfully followed those rules, in particular
his rule number 13 under tactics: "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."
The main job of the community organizer, Mr. Alinsky said, is to bait an
opponent into reacting.
"The enemy properly goaded and guided in his reaction will be your major
strength," Mr. Alinsky wrote.
Following Mr. Alinsky's tactics has worked well for Mr. Obama. But
unfortunately for him, Sarah Palin arguably the principal target of
rule number 13 has read the book, too.
Journalists who wrote off Ms. Palin as politically irrelevant after she
resigned as Alaska's governor last month spent much of the weekend
discussing how she has shifted debate on President Obama's health care
"We are back to is she crazy or is she crazy like a fox," said the
Washington Post's Anne Kornblutt in a panel discussion on ABC's "This
Week" program Sunday. "We all wrote her off a month ago. We said she
would have no platform if she were not governor of Alaska."
During the presidential election last year, journalists marveled at how
the Obama campaign was running rings around the McCain campaign in the
utilization of new communications technologies.
But, noted Stephanie Condon of CBS on Friday (8/14), it is Sarah Palin's
shrewd use of the new technologies that have shifted the health care
All it took for Sarah to shift the focus was to post this paragraph on
her Facebook page: "The America I know and love is not one in which my
parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of
Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a
subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether
they are worthy of health care."
Ms. Palin could count on an hysterical overreaction from Democrats and
journalists to give her remark widespread publicity. And so it came to
pass. Even President Obama felt compelled to respond.
To describe the "end of life counseling" provisions in the health care
bill as creating a "death panel" is an egregious overstatement, they
"Death panel" is a phrase which sticks in people's minds, like Ronald
Reagan's description of the Soviet Union as an "evil empire," a phrase
which, noted Andrew McCarthy of National Review Online, also drove
Democrats and journalists to hissy fits.
"'Death panels' caught on with the public just like 'evil empire' did
because, for all their 'heat rather than light' tut-tutting, critics
could never quite discredit it," Mr. McCarthy said.
"Needless to say, the (end of life counseling) proposals themselves had
been couched in 'feelgood' language, with public relations campaigns at
the ready in case someone like Palin called a spade a spade," wrote
Canadian columnist David Warren. "She did so in full knowledge of how
that publicity machine would respond."
"When I first saw that (death panel) phrase, I burst out laughing,"
wrote Camille Paglia, an Obama supporter. "It seemed so over the top.
But on reflection, I realized Palin's shrewdly timed metaphor spoke
directly to the electorate's unease with the prospect of shadowing,
unelected government figures controlling our lives."
The Senate Finance Committee has dropped the provision for end of life
counseling from its version of the health care bill, because, according
to one member, "it could be misinterpreted or implemented incorrectly."
"That's a very nice way of saying Sarah Palin had a point," Mr. Warren