Community Organizer vs. Governor

Anyone who was impressed by the “he’s just a community organizer, I’m a governor” crack in Sarah Palin’s speech last night would do well to remember this:

Jesus was a community organizer; Pontius Pilate was a governor

(Thanks to Jonathan Martin at for the quip.)

15 replies on “Community Organizer vs. Governor”

Tony Soprano was a “community organizer” – I think the comparison you were looking for.

@David Janes: I didn’t see you complain at the various DemoCamps, where David Crow, Leila Boujnane, Jay Goldman, Greg Wilson and I are the community organizers.

And that urge to do community organizing? That’s a value taught to me by Dad.

that is a great point.

the way in which giuliani and palin made fun of that was so disrespectful to the thousands of people who do it on a daily basis because their governments are deaf. the civil rights movement was built on community organizing. community organizing IS service to your country.

certainly no one brings up cindy mccain using money from her charities to feed her drug addiction. country first or addiction first?

Ah, I didn’t realize that DemoCamp was about shaking down the government to hand money to your corrupt Chicago pals. Or that you even had corrupt Chicago pals. Live n’ learn!

@David Janes: If that’s what they were implying by “community organizer”, they’re doing a pretty piss-poor job at it. As far as I can tell from both Giuliani’s and Palin’s speeches, the implication is that it’s a ridiculous thing to put on your political resume because community organizing isn’t real work. You’d think that such an activity would be a good thing in the eyes of people who espouse the values of self-reliance and limited government.

If they wanted to talk about Obama’s “corrupt pals”, why not simply do so? Why not simply give out some of that “Straight Talk” that was the hallmark of McCain’s earlier campaign style?

I think you’re missing what a “community organizer” is, in the Barack Obama sense of the word. Yes, TorCamp is a “community” and you “organized” it, but that makes you a BOCO in the same sense that calling someone’s dad a “mother fucker” makes sense: each word fits, but the connotation is entirely wrong.

Here’s the Wikipedia article for the first BOCO-style community organizer, Saul Alinsky. Amusingly you’ll note that he dedicated one of his books to Lucifer, not Jebus. Here’s the ideal BO-ideal community member: “They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and change the future.” Now, I’ll admit I missed over half the TorCamps but I seem to remember a certain vibe of optimism and hope; did I miss the ‘eat the rich’ sessions?

A community organizer, as the Republicans say it and as BO acts it is someone who tries to “radicalize the masses” (etc, bla bla bla) to achieve political power. It’s not someone providing invaluable well appreciate leadership to help launch businesses and promote ideas.

Yes, but unfortunately for her he was a wife beater, which is why they called him “Punches”.

I know this is meant to be a witty one-liner, but that line only works if one has zero knowledge of the New Testament and the Koiné Greek it was written in.

His disciples address him in the New Testament fairly often as didaskalos, which translates as “teacher”. Once he is referred to as a tekton (“builder”), which we have translated as “carpenter”, but that is almost certainly in the ironic sense; a construction worker in 1st century Judea would not be expected to have the extensive theological and judicial training of the Sanhedrin he was debating.

@Chris Taylor: It’s a clever quip with a fair bit of depth to it, and the line only fails if one chooses to play the tiresome pedant trying to score debating points.

It’s the difference between reading Shakespeare with some knowledge of 16th century English, and reading a Russian translation having no knowledge of the original English. In Russian you will lose subtleties like iambic pentameter, and not even be aware that that structure exists in the original.

Similar things will happen when you rely exclusively on English translations of a Greek text.

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