During Hillary Clinton’s speech to reporters and analysts attending the Toner Prize journalism awards ceremony in Washington, DC, Mrs. Clinton employed variants of two classic Alinsky narrative manipulation tactics in targeting herself for ridicule over her use of a private email server and address during her time as Secretary of State. The use of her private server and email address allowed her to reverse the hierarchy of authority where the designation of government information is concerned. The use of the Alinsky tactics is meant to move the media on from this very damaging reality.
The UK’s Daily Mail quotes Mrs. Clinton as saying:
“I am well aware that some of you may be a little surprised to see me here tonight. You know my relationship with the press has been at times, shall we say, complicated…But I am all about new beginnings. A new grandchild, another new hairstyle, a new email account – why not a new relationship with the press? So here goes. No more secrecy. No more zone of privacy – after all, what good does that do me…”
Self-deprecating humor is a potent tool in a politician’s public relations toolbox, especially if the politician is trying to save face in an embarrassing situation. But targeting a damaging scandal with disarming ridicule is a tactic of manipulation to divert seriousness away from a point of vulnerability. Mrs. Clinton’s inclusion of the email scandal – which directly threatens her chances of becoming President of the United States – is purposeful and deliberate.
In Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, Rule Number 5 reads:
“‘Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.’ There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions…”
Rule Number 12 reads:
“‘Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.’ Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.”
By including the subject of the email scandal in her “humorous” remarks, Mrs. Clinton effectively targeted those who identify the scandal as a serious matter; a matter that includes the ability for her to shield herself from damaging information on policy failures including the rise of the Islamic State, the assassination of a US Ambassador and his security team in Libya, and the failure of the “reset” with Russia, all of which took place on her watch. By diverting the spotlight away from herself, and shining it onto those who are rightly sounding the alarm on her conduct, Mrs. Clinton has – or at least she hopes she has – painted herself the victim, while branding her “accusers” as the bullies.
Now that she has deceptively intimated that the acts of “unfairness” exist with her detractors, she is free to implement Alinsky Rule Number 12, by targeting those who have called her on her misconduct (the vast Right-Wing conspirators), attempting to make their objections the story, and personalizing it by inferring that the “conservative media” is once again on a Clinton witch hunt, thus completing the political divide into pro- and anti-Clinton factions; factions which the Clinton’s manipulate with ease for both personal and professional gain.
It’s important to remember that Hillary Clinton’s thesis at Wellesley College, There Is Only the Fight: An Analysis of the Alinsky Model, was, for her, a declaration of her intimate knowledge of Saul Alinsky. To say that her understanding of the Alinsky model has served her well would be an understatement. To say that she is an Alinsky disciple would be spot on. And the disciple preaches on to this day.