Of course, I am not advocating such tactics, but I think we should look at them to see underneath them and to make them less effective.

Many of these same tactics are used in Rules For Radicals by Saul AlinskyObama taught a class in Alinsky's Rules (see picture of him writing the Rules on the blackboard) in it in his community organizing days.

Maybe we could call this "The Axelrod Papers, how to masterfully manipulate the people."?

Axelrod is a master of "being nice", while insinuating the most terrible things about his opponents.  Notice his language - and how it is presented as sounding logical, and not necessarily seen as manipulative.

Notice that instead of responding to the problems in the economy, he uses deflections and diversions from what really matters.  That is effective.  Gingrich did it in attacking the media for questions asked in the debates.  It is classic manipulative politics.


Keep repeating the negatives, without facts, and people will believe it. (The people are uninformed and can be
   taken advantage of.  Do not give them any facts or understanding.)

Evilize the opposition and anyone related to it.

Cause divisiveness and opposition, create an enemy, purport how it will harm you - Unfair, 1%, greedy, others
    cause your problems (not you)

Others will take away from you your right (to their money) - the rich are causing your problems.

You're entitled and those others are too powerful and taking away from you [Not stated:  you're a victim. The others are evil and against you. We'll rescue you.]

And they include all of the Alinsky's Rules For Radicals (see the summary at the top of that page), some of which are:

All evils are caused by the exploitation of the proletariat by the capitalists

"...and clothe it with moral garments."

"An organizer must stir up dissatisfaction and discontent."

"Ridicule is man's most potent weapon."

"Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it."

If you want to go further, you might find it interesting to review the examples below...


See if you can spot which of these tactics are used here and how they are used:

Romney Has No Core

"I think there's this question about what his core principles are," Axelrod said, citing changes in Romney's positions from earlier in his political career when he was running for U.S. Senate and Massachusetts governor. "Then he was a pro choice, pro gay rights, pro environmental candidate for office. Then he decided to run for president. Did a 180 on all of that."

"So time and time and time again he shifts – and you get the feeling that there is no principle too large for him to throw over in pursuit of political office," Axelrod added.

However, his core principles are laid out very clearly in his plan and on his site (and on this site; see Romney's Core Principles and what he has specified in Romney's Plans).  He's also Not A Flip-Flopper but a [see the article].   At least compare it to The Obama Flip-Flops - Artfully Obscured (so we don't see them as well, until we look more deeply).     

From an article: Shape-shifter, political cyborg, flip-flopper

David Axelrod claims Mitt Romney is a lot of things — a hypocrite, ideological shape-shifter, lapsed pro-choice moderate and political cyborg [clever use of lots of labels, some of which will probably stick, especially if repeated over and over - I think these need to be addressed, as I think the light will show the truth.]

“I don’t know that his positions have been scrutinized all that carefully,”  [Implies that if you looked there would be something terrible.  But his positions are all listed on his site!]

“I know that Gov. Perry has made some halting efforts to do that in these debates, but he hasn’t exactly gotten the gun out of the holster.”

“We’re having this call because Gov. Romney has been so brazen, frankly, in his, kinda, switches of position, and was evident again last night.” [Use of the word "evident" means it is obviously factual and true - and if you don't see it, then... See Not A Flip-Flopper - it is just a bad rap and a false one!  [Attributions, whether true or not, will tend to stick.]

“It’s telling that the Romney campaign didn’t respond to the substance of what I said. [Implying a strong implication, using a great word that connotes truth:  "telling".  And there was no substance in what Axelrod said!] 

And the reason is because they can’t. [That is an assertion and a mind reading, in a sense, that looks like the truth.  But it is all refutable. It's just difficult to catch all the mud and get people to listen, so it's not always dealt with.  This site attempts to do that, though I recognize few will bother to read it.] 

And it’s ironic that a candidate who’s advocating the deregulation of Wall Street, [implies that it is down to zero regulation, rather than down to reasonable, effective regulation, which is what he is actually committed to]

Massive [exaggeration] new tax cuts for corporations [down from 35% to 25% so that we can compete internationally and have more jobs]  and the wealthy [the enemy, who is not contributing their fair share, so go ahead and hate Romney for it - but it's based on a false assumption and no regard for the truth.]  [Many of the Democrats and also the President now agree the rate should be reduced at least to 28%.]

and trade wars as a means of lifting our economy would liken others to Herbert Hoover. [Sounds like a Gingrich tactic.  Great exaggeration and makes it sound like the extreme would happen without any allowance that the process needs to be dealt with with strength, coupled with prudent negotiating, which Romney is a very successful expert at - just look at his extensive track record!] 

Allowing that he can always change his positions [there you go again!  And repeating is a good tactic.  See Not A Flip-Flopper.] , and often does,

Romney’s policies today are exactly the ones that led us into a disaster in the 1920s and again in the 2000s. He’s carrying Hoover’s tattered banner.” [Whoa!  This is a whopper beyond all whoppers!  Romney's policies are expansionary and not at all stupid.  He makes excellent decisions and gathers the proper experts around him - and he understands what they are saying, while a non-expert may gather experts around him but fail to understand and/or implement.  See Confidence Men, by Ron Suskind on Obama's Presidency and failure to understand and/or follow up, sometimes not at all!]

Of course, this is filled with a massive amount of mud, some of which will stick, unless it is "cleaned up".   Each of these items is "twisted" and misleading, but they are answerable.  


Axelrod claiming Romney would defend tax "rules [that] are not right."
"I am not saying he didn't play by the rules," Axelrod said of Romney on Meet the Press today. "The rules allow you to have Swiss bank accounts, the rules allow you to put your money in the Cayman Islands, and to set up businesses in Bermuda -- the rules allow all that. The question is, are the rules right? He would continue those rules. They are not right."

And while we're at it, look at the deceptiveness and implications from Gingrich:  "We’re not going to beat Barack Obama with someone who owns Swiss bank accounts, Cayman Island accounts,”  [Stated as a factoid, but not the truth. Plus he is adding to the mud.]
"I am running for president to represent you, not to represent the Washington establishment, not to represent Goldman Sachs."  [Great implication that my opponent will represent the bad guys.  Saul Alinsky advocates associating the opponents with groups that people associate with evil.  Gingrich is perpetuating the conversation, for political purposes.  A responsible President would seek to establish more objective views and understanding such that there is not war and blaming and false attribution but understanding and acceptance.  Neither Gingrich nor Obama are part of the solution, but they are part of the problem, I think.]

Romney has always been fair in his representing those he has committed to benefit - in this case that is the American people.  Guilt by association is a standard poltical tactic:  Goldman = evil = cause of financial collapse [not!] = businessman = vulture capitalist = Romney bad man.  But Romney is the opposite, full of integrity, altruistic, and of great moral character.  [See Kind, Compassionate, Capable.] 

I assess that he will do an excellent balanced job for everyone.


“Having ducked and dodged and dithered throughout the debt-ceiling debate, and then dropping in on the final day and opposing the compromise, it’s pathetic that Mitt Romney was the first out of the gate with a press release blaming the president after S&P issued its report,” Mr. Axelrod, who is advising Mr. Obama’s campaign, said in an interview.

“I don’t think the American people are going to reward that kind of politics,” he said. “People are looking for constructive ideas about how we build a better future. The president is offering those.”

In the first place, it is arguably not the job of a candidate to interfere. 

Notice the tossing out of key slurs:   It's pathetic...blaming...

And the interesting suggestion implied underneath "I don't think...going to reward that kind of politics."

It is fairly obvious that the excessive debt and deficits are the problem that is the primary cause of the downgrade, coupled with the fight and the accusations from Obama.  Obama clearly fought to the end to not give in, yet he accused the Republicans of being the problem.  Anybody familiar with negotiations knows the obvious:  that there are two parties involved that need to reach compromise.  It is not a one-sided process and if one does not do what is necessary to reach agreement it is childish to blame the other side for not doing what is necessary to reach agreement.  That is what negotiation is about.   Obama's resistance to the very end exacerbated the problem.  He can never expect that compromise means he will get all he wants.  He was, at the very least, equally responsible for taking things to the edge.  

It was amusing to see the trickery involved in saying it was the Republicans that are pushing the American people over the cliff.  Accusing someone else of being the villain is a standard strategy in politics - and, unfortunately, it does work - but only in terms of politics, and most often it works against the interests of the American people.

Both sides are responsible, no matter how much twisting goes on.