Damage control time!
–She didn’t mean it.
–She was only quoting a Republican operative.
–Fox News is mean to Democrats.
–Glenn Beck is an extremist.
–The President is trying to clean up a big mess left by George Bush.
–Can’t we just change the subject?
When Glenn Beck aired a video of White House Communications Director Anita Dunn praising Chairman Mao — one of her “two favorite political philosophers” — in front of an audience of high school students, the conservative blogosphere lit up like a non-denominational sustainably harvested Kwanza tree. I wrote about it here. Andrew McCarthy added some historical background here. Peter Wehner had this to say. Et, I need hardly say, cetera.
There’s one part of the left-wing reaction to the obloquy heaped upon Anita Dunn that should not be allowed to go unchallenged. It might go like this: “George Bush quoted Mao [or Stalin, or Hitler, or some other bad guy]: does that make him a Maoist [or Stalinist, a Nazi, or whatever]?”
As Fausta Wertz points out, Anita Dunn offered a variant of this exculpatory strategy when she claimed, in reaction to the tsunami of criticism her remarks occasioned, that she was only quoting Lee Atwater.
Let’s say that Mr. Atwater had quoted the bit from Mao that Anita Dunn quoted — you fight your war and I’ll fight mine, etc., etc. So what? Lee Atwater did not identify Mao as one of his two favorite political philosophers. He did not stand before a room full of high school students and praise the revolutionary tactics of the greatest mass murderer in history.
Bottom line: it is one thing to quote a tyrant. It is another to endorse his view of the world.