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.
Probably, Anita Dunn would be as horrified as the next person by Mao’s savage wholesale butchery. The same could be said of most of those college students who carried around Mao’s Little Red Book and proclaimed themselves on the side of Revolution. Sure, many exhibited a creepy fascination with violence. But these privileged American kids would have run screaming from the room had they had to confront the merciless slaughter perpetrated by Mao and his merry band of utopians.
That’s neither here nor there. What the left-wing excuse factory wants is for the American people to overlook the radicalism of the people populating Obama’s inner circle, of which Anita Dunn is a prominent member. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, let me once again remind readers of what Obama promised in his campaign. I don’t mean the long string of broken promises about helping the middle class, pulling out troops from Iraq, prosecuting the war in Afghanistan with vigor, etc. Those were just campaign promises, i.e., vote-getting expedients that events have led Obama to renege on.
No, I mean the one big promise that he has every intention of fulfilling: the promise to “fundamentally transform the United States of America.” That is what Obama and his lieutenants are about. They are egalitarians — not, perhaps, quite so radical as Chairman Mao, but (as the case of Anita Dunn shows) they have plenty of admiration for Mao’s goals. Obama himself has criticized the U.S. Constitution for being merely a “charter of negative liberties” that fails to promote “redistributive change.”
This is the point: last November, the American people thought they were electing a “post-partisan,” “post-racial” President who would work to restore unity and self-confidence to the country. They woke up on November 5, however, to find that they had elected someone who was deeply ambivalent about America, who distrusted its founding principles of limited government, individual liberty, and local responsibility. Like his radical friends — Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, Van Jones, Anita Dunn — Barack Obama wishes to transform the United States according to a model whose basic shape was supplied by the utopian schemes of the 1960s. That’s why Anita Dunn said that Mao was one of the thinkers she most often turned to for wisdom about big-think political problems. It’s not that she admires his penchant for industrial strength homicide: rather, she admires his success at fomenting an egalitarian revolution. It’s not what we bargained for when we elected Barack Obama. But that’s what we’ve got. The question is how much worse will things have to get before the penny drops, before the scales fall from the collective eyes of the electorate? When will voters begin that long countermarch through the institutions in order to take back the country? If not now, when?