On the March 2 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Republican pollster Frank Luntz said of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) treatment of community activist Saul Alinsky in her senior thesis at Wellesley College: "In the language she uses she holds him up almost like an icon. ... I don't know how to say this, but that's like holding up some of the people from Germany in the 1930s and '40s."
Alinsky was a community organizer born in 1909 to Russian-Jewish immigrants. He earned an archaeology degree from the University of Chicago in 1930 and became known for founding the Industrial Areas Foundation as well as co-founding the Back-of-the-Yards Neighborhood Council. Back-of the-Yards was a poor community near the stockyards on Chicago's southwest side that became prominent after the 1906 release of Upton Sinclair's novel The Jungle.
A March 3 MSNBC.com article reported that Clinton's 1969 senior thesis "examin[ed] the tactics" employed by Alinsky. But as co-host Alan Colmes noted in response to Luntz's claim that Clinton treated Alinsky "almost like an icon," her thesis is, in fact, "critical of Alinsky in many instances." Indeed, according to the MSNBC.com article, while Clinton noted his "compelling personality" and "exceptional charm," she concluded that his belief that "the 'ventilation' of hostilities is healthy in certain situations is valid, but across-the-board 'social catharsis' cannot be prescribed."
From the March 2 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
COLMES: And if you actually look at this, she's critical of Alinsky in many instances. She talks about the kind of empowerment that conservatives talk about and lack of government involvement in even things like the poverty program.
LUNTZ: And yet she holds him up. In the language she uses, she holds him up almost like an icon. And if you are --
COLMES: Because of his organizing skill, though, not because of every -- pieces of his policy.
LUNTZ: That's like -- I want to be care -- I don't know how to say this, but that's like holding up some of the people from Germany in the 1930s and '40s.
COLMES: Oh, come on.
LUNTZ: That's what I'm trying --
COLMES: Was he a Nazi? Was he a totalitarian?
LUNTZ: That's why I did not use the word. But you've got to acknowledge that she is praising this individual who used the most aggressive, the most dictatorial --
COLMES: She didn't agree with all of those things. She praised his skills as an organizer, didn't praise every one of his tactics.