“Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”

Who said that?

One of Barack Obama’s political mentors – Saul Alinsky.

Do you think he embraced those words? Do you think his acolytes do?

I see evidence of it every day – particularly with regard to those calling on Obama to do the only decent, moral, legal and American thing to do about his mysterious, elusive birth certificate.

I don’t have a frail ego. I have been criticized viciously before, and I survived. I have been attacked by presidents before – in ways that actually hurt my finances, my reputation and distracted me from my mission as a journalist.

It was hardly the end of the world for me.

But for other journalists, or pseudo-journalists, or “media personalities,” they fear such attacks. They have reached such lofty positions of great wealth and prestige, they can’t bear the risks those attacks involve.

And that’s why ridicule is such a potent weapon – especially against one’s political enemies and especially when those attacks are coordinated and directed by powerful people.

That’s what you have witnessed over the last several weeks as anyone who “steps out of line” on the issue of Barack Obama’s constitutional eligibility gets caricatured and derided as a buffoon or worse – a racist.

It was Saul Alinsky’s fifth rule of power tactics. He wrote the book, “Rules for Radicals,” and it is a playbook for the Obama administration, the Democratic Congress and their operatives, of which there are many, in the “state-run media,” as Rush Limbaugh so accurately dubbed it.

If you can’t articulate a coherent response to people calling for the release of something as innocuous as a presidential birth certificate, kill the messenger. Proclaim him or her a fool, a conspiracy theorist, a tinfoil-hat-wearing lunatic.

The campaign has been effective at reining in potential dissidents within the media establishment. Only a few have dared break with conventional ethos – Rush Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs, Michael Savage. The Bill O’Reillys and Glenn Becks of the media world find excuses to be accepted by the “mainstream.”

But I have news for the late Saul Alinsky. Those tactics may have served well the extremists of the past – in the short run. However, the ridicule of this campaign has been so over the top, so pervasive, so malignant and so obvious, it has backfired. The rules for radicals work well when radicals are not running things. But when the inmates take over the asylum, as they have in this country in the last six months, the old tactics of intimidation simply allow more people to see through the looking glass.

I dare my media colleagues to commission some scientific polls on this simple question: “Should Barack Obama release his birth certificate?”

I think they would be surprised by the results – as I was when I commissioned such a survey months ago. Despite the barrage from the “we don’t report, we decide” media, ordinary Americans understand the stakes. They don’t like secrecy. They don’t like the hypocrisy of a leader who pledged “openness and transparency” and offered stonewalling. They don’t like doubletalk.

The old rules are breaking down – even the old rules from old radicals.

This issue is not going away. It will continue to haunt Obama and his minions for as long as he insists on turning a deaf ear to the growing chorus of discontent.

There is no escaping it.

It’s a leaderless movement – the hardest kind to crush.

And it’s righteous because it is rooted in the desire for truth and upholding the Constitution.

Maybe it’s time for the old radicals to write some new rules.

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