John Nolte of Big Journalism coined the phrase “BenSmithing” to describe the tactics of the former Politico turned BuzzFeed scribe and member of the JournoList, that self-described “non-official campaign” to elect Obama, which as its founder Ezra Klein explained, was only open to his fellow leftists. As the Urban Dictionary notes, BenSmithing is “a political tactic that disguises itself as journalism in order to protect Democrats, most specifically Barack Obama.”
Smith’s former colleague Glenn Thrush, still with the Politico, is also quite prepared to do a little BenSmithing to aid his fellow Democrats in higher places: whenever a scandal engulfs them, Thrush affects an attitude of boredom. Hey, no big deal — Evel Knievel totally meant to crash the motorcycle on the landing ramp. All part of the act; happens all the time, you guys.
It’s a curious tone though, for someone who holds himself out as a journalist, and not as a Democrat operative with a byline. Those of us who have the privilege of observing the Hieronymus Bosch meets Koyaanisqatsi landscape of the world of the 21st century and then reporting on the wreckage around us are usually horrified at how dysfunctional the modern world and its political players are and eager to share the details with our readers. But for Thrush, it’s all pretty boring. At least when bad things happen to his fellow leftists.
Last November, during the disastrous Obamacare rollout, whenever everything that could go wrong did — and then some — permanently destroying any hope its namesake had of a legacy of technocratic competence, Thrush sniffed:
No of course not, despite the millions more words to come of what a debacle Mr. Obama’s administration was making of the healthcare industry and the pain it was inflicting upon those who relied on it.
This weekend, Thrush is back to his old trick of feigning ignorance and boredom:
Ho hum. pic.twitter.com/wAilYoxsNW
— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) September 22, 2014
At the Corner, Stanley Kurtz explains, for the benefit of Thrush and others BenSmithing the story, “Why Hillary’s Alinsky Letters Matter:”
Glenn Reynolds links to a tweet in response to the Goodman story by Politico’s Glenn Thrush: “Remind me again why liking Saul Alinsky is unacceptable.” Alright Glenn, and the rest of a Democratic-leaning media that will do everything in its power to play this revelation down, I’ll remind you.
Alinsky was a democratic socialist. He worked closely for years with Chicago’s Communist party and did everything in his power to advance its program. Most of his innovations were patterned on Communist-party organizing tactics. Alinsky was smart enough never to join the party, however. From the start, he understood the dangers of ideological openness. He was a pragmatist, but a pragmatist of the far left. (See Chapter Four of Spreading the Wealth for details.)
Hillary Clinton understood all of this. As she noted at the conclusion of her undergraduate thesis on Alinsky, “If the ideals Alinsky espouses were actualized, the result would be social revolution.” In her letter to Alinsky, Hillary says, “I have just had my one-thousandth conversation” about Reveille for Radicals (Alinsky’s first book). Nowadays, people focus on Alinsky’s more famous follow-up, Rules for Radicals. But Reveille, which Hillary knew inside-out, is the more ideologically revelatory work.
Here’s how Alinsky defined his favored politics in Reveille for Radicals:
Radicals want to advance from the jungle of laissez-faire capitalism to a world worthy of the name of human civilization. They hope for a future where the means of economic production will be owned by all of the people instead of the comparative handful.
So Alinsky supported the central Marxist tenet of public ownership of the means of production. Unlike the New Left, however, Alinsky had no expectation of reaching that end through swift or violent revolution. He meant to approach the ultimate goal slowly, piecemeal, perhaps over generations, through patient organizing efforts at the local level.
Read the whole thing. As Kurtz concludes, “A Hillary presidency is destined to be Obama’s third term. Two Alinskyite presidents in a row? Hillary said it best: ‘the result would be a social revolution.'”
Imagine how boring Glenn Thrush will find it all.
Update: Much more from Mollie Hemingway at the Federalist. Linking to the same tweet from Gabriel Malor we included above capturing the ho-hum reactions of Thrush and Maeve Reston of the L.A. Times, Hemingway writes:
Yeah, I can’t put my finger on why people were talking about Alinsky ever… SAYS A POLITICAL REPORTER. I mean, seriously. I get if you’re a normal person who lives a happy life unencumbered by discussions of politicians. But if you’re a political reporter, how can you cover the manufactured War on Women without knowing from which its tactics spring? How can you cover any political race without knowing how basic strategies of political change are employed by people on up to, oh I don’t know, THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES? I’m sorry for shouting, but you see how it’s kind of frustrating, no? Look at these 13 (or 24, depending on how you look at it) rules from Alinsky and you tell me whether the phrase “Oh that’s why Harry Reid and other Democratic operatives are constantly invoking the specific names of the Koch brothers” doesn’t immediately spring word-for-word from your lips when you get to the end.
I’m not even saying that you should agree with conservative or moderate critiques of Alinsky but you should at least know who he is.
When Politico’s Ben White admitted to not knowing much about Alinsky, fellow Politico Magazine White House reporter Glenn Thrush assured him it was OK to not know much about him. Deputy editor for Politico Magazine Blake Hounsell helpfully noted that “He had some interesting organizing ideas.” White said, “that’s what Wikipedia taught me, yeah.” Later, White said, “The first rule of Twitter is never admit you don’t know something. The second is to be outraged by everything. Those are the only rules.”
Now, I certainly don’t want reporters to pretend they know stuff they don’t and I also don’t want to get outraged about the knowledge base of the Politico staff but is there room here for me to suggest all y’all should start a book club or something? I didn’t even get a degree in political science and I was forced to read and write a paper on Rules for Radicals by some lefty political science professor of mine (hard to distinguish them — I went to the University of Colorado) who thought we were living in The Jungle 24/7. You know what The Jungle is, right? Upton Sinclair? How about Shakespeare?
Keep reading; Mollie’s just getting started.
Related: Not surprisingly, Politico is almost as happy to airbrush history for Lois Lerner as they are for Hillary.