“On the night of his triumph in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich boldly announced: “The centerpiece of this campaign, I believe, is American exceptionalism versus the radicalism of Saul Alinsky.” Barack Obama did once work in a Chicago project inspired by Alinsky, the legendary community organizer who died in 1972. But, in its essence, this was classic demagoguery: connect a name that, at least to a crowd of Southern Republicans, sounds rather alien—and certainly not Christian—with a president whom many conservatives already suspect of being an un-American, anti-religious socialist.
Because Newt is reputed to know a great deal about the past, even those who don’t admire him may give credence to the former Speaker’s claim that Alinsky was a dangerous leftist whose doctrine lies at the root of all that is wrong in the country—and in the White House. In fact, it shows, yet again, that the skillful demagogue is a lousy historian.
Saul Alinsky often called himself a radical, but his career as a community organizer had thoroughly traditional foundations in grassroots democracy and institutional religion. Indeed, it was built with the active support and resources of key figures in the Roman Catholic Church. (The same faith, incidentally, to which Newt converted in 2009, joining his wife Callista, who grew up Catholic in Wisconsin.)”
More, from Michael Kazin:http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/100030/gingrich-alinsky-saul-newt-catholic-carolina