17 October, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Oh, dear.  Glenn Beck's on a screaming, weeping, everybody's-a-Marxist jag.  Yes, again.  This time, he's upset because somebody who doesn't like Faux News quoted Mao:
Glenn Beck picks the strangest things to get hysterical about. Yesterday, for example, he nearly had a breakdown discussing a speech interim White House Communications Director Anita Dunn delivered earlier this year. Dunn noted comments from "two of my favorite political philosophers: Mao Tse-Tung and Mother Theresa." She jokes, "Not often coupled with each other!"
In the video of a speech to high school graduates earlier this year, Dunn cited Mao's response to skeptics who pointed out that their party was facing steep disadvantages while fighting the Nationalist Chinese: "You fight your war, and I'll fight mine." After asking the audience to "think about that for a second," she said, "You know, you don't have to accept the definition of how to do things, and you don't have to follow other people's choices and paths, OK? It is about your choices and your path."
It doesn't sound especially shocking. That is, unless you're Beck, who insisted on the air yesterday that Dunn "worships" "her hero" Mao Zedong. At one point, referencing Dunn, he gets up and attaches a communist hammer and sickle to a blackboard, right around the time he tries to connect Dunn to the deaths of 70 million Chinese: "This is her hero's work! 70 million dead!"

In reality, Mao references aren't especially unusual in American politics. In last year's presidential campaign, for example, John McCain quoted Mao on the campaign stump, and Beck didn't seem to mind. A few years ago, George W. Bush encouraged Karl Rove to read a Mao biography. Media Matters found prominent conservatives like Barry Goldwater's "alter ego" Stephen C. Shadegg, Cato Institute president Edward H. Crane, and GOP strategist Ralph Reed all referencing lessons from Mao Tse-Tung.
And, o' course, Anita Dunn picked up the Mao quote for that horrible pinkocommiesociofascist Lee Atwater (h/t):
In an e-mail message, Ms. Dunn said, “My source for the Mao quote was actually the late Lee Atwater, either in an article or bio I read after the 1988 election. Now that I’ve revealed this I hope I don’t get Keith Olbermann angry with me. Let it be noted that I also quoted Mother Teresa, but no one is accusing me of being a saint!”
The ridiculous kerfluffle cost taxpayers at least ten cents:

Did a reporter really ask a White House spokesman to respond to Glenn Beck’s attack on White House communications director Anita Dunn for supposedly worshiping Mao Zedong?

Yes. Here’s the exchange with spokesman Bill Burton during the press gaggle today on Air Force One, per the White House transcript:
QUESTION: One more question — have you — do you any comment on Anita Dunn’s belief that Mao is one of her favorite political philosophers?
Burton makes $113,000 per year. Presuming it took him about 30 seconds to answer that question, it cost taxpayers around 10 cents. Not much, but not nothing, either.
I love it when Greg Sargent gets snarky.  Of course, the real cost is all those damaged neurons that may never recover from the onslaught of stupid, but it's harder to quantify that.

Beck unleashed quite a bit of spittle yesterday, just as he does nearly every day, ranting against the evil radicals and their nefarious plans to redistribute America's wealth.  It's a strange position for a man who claims Thomas Paine as one of his greatest heroes, considering Tommy was all about the redistribution of wealth...

Does this mean an American Revolutionary War Hero is about to end up on Beck's blackboard?

So, you ask, who watches this stupid shite, aside from laughing liberals?  Does anyone really take his bullshit seriously?  Um, alas, yes:

A new focus-group of Republican base voters by the Democracy Corps (D), the consulting and polling outfit headed up by James Carville and Stan Greenberg, presents a picture of the GOP base as being motivated by a fundamentally different worldview than folks in the middle or on the Dem side -- and they see the country as being under a dire threat.

"They believe Obama is ruthlessly advancing a 'secret agenda' to bankrupt the United States and dramatically expand government control to an extent nothing short of socialism," the analysis said." While these voters are disdainful of a Republican Party they view to have failed in its mission, they overwhelmingly view a successful Obama presidency as the destruction of this country's founding principles and are committed to seeing the president fail."


The real unblemished champion, the one they most identify with on a personal level, is Glenn Beck: "Two aspects of the discussion on Beck among conservative Republicans were particularly noteworthy. One was a common fear among the women for his personal safety, a belief that his willingness to stand up to powerful liberal interests was putting his life, as well as the lives of those working with him, in danger. Of course, his willingness to face this danger head on only adds to his legend."
Yes.  They really are that pathetic.  And they are the engine driving the Con "Party of No" policy:
The New York Times has a piece today on the Republican Party's deliberate decision on the Hill to reject pretty much everything on the Democratic agenda thus far. As the congressional minority sees it, the strategy will pay electoral dividends.
Congressional Republicans ... are certain that the politics are on their side. Dismissing Democrats' attacks on them as "the party of no," they point to polls and other signs indicating that high unemployment and deficits have created vast unease with Mr. Obama's agenda as the 2010 midterm elections approach. [...]
"I just don't think that there's a downside to voting no -- I really don't," said Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman from Minnesota. "That's quite aside from whether you should or shouldn't, or whether the country needs it or doesn't need it. The basic rule is you rarely pay a price at the polls for being against something."
Republican incumbents "have far more to lose," he said, "by having the Republican base conclude that they're just throwing in the towel and compromising on a big-government agenda."

The NYT's Jackie Calmes added that the Republican strategy on this exposes the party "to criticism that they have become political obstructionists with no policy agenda of their own. And that could keep them from extending their appeal to the centrist voters who are essential to rebuilding the party's strength nationally."
And I plan to clip this and take it round with me when stumping for Dems.  This, I shall tell undecideds, is what the Cons do instead of looking our for the country's best interests.  Is there really a question as to which party's better for the country?

Didn't think so.


Woozle said...

I started up an email dialogue with my Disreputable Conservative Relative (yes, I know, I have nobody to blame but myself) on the subject of ACORN because he had been dissing them at lunch the day before, repeating all the Con memes faithfully...

...and one of the things he came back with was that whole Glenn Beck thing about Anita Dunn (his email was entitled "A Maoist in the White House").

A couple of back-and-forths ensued, and I ended by making the point that this was heading towards the idea of vetting politicians by who they choose to be inspired by -- rather than by, say, how they actually act and perform their duties.

This morning he's still on about ACORN (I haven't had the stomach to read it yet) but seems to have dropped the Maoism issue. Hooray for small victories. :-P

(Do Cons ever really admit they're wrong about anything?)

Woozle said...

Meh, I spoke too soon -- this just arrived (along with the 3 follow-ups on ACORN):

W: How is this relevant to her job performance? Has she done anything ethically

DCR: "Well, if she was the White House accountant, it would be pretty much irrelevant. But she's COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR for goodness sake! I think anyone would agree that she fell down on that job by making such an incredibly stupid set of comments. (The sad thing is that everyone would have agreed to condemn her had had she praised Hitler. But because Mao is still popular among many in China -- the rest are mostly dead, of course -- and because he's left-wing (Hitler was too, of course, [National Socialist] until he broke his pact with Stalin) she gets a pass -- probably (and this is the really depressing thing) because most of her colleagues agree with her."

*Woozle clenches stomach, responds to DCR*

1. How was it stupid? They were kind of meaningless "feel-good" comments, but we get that from politicians of both sides on a regular basis.

2. You imply that she praised Mao -- she didn't.

Are you also going to condemn Lee Atwater (late strategist to the Republican party, advisor to Reagan and Bush I, past Chairman of the RNC)? Apparently she got the quote from him.

This is a stupid battle Beck has chosen to ignite. It's baseless and leads only to censorship of thought, if pursued -- something of which he (hypocritically) claims to be the sole defender. I didn't think my contempt for the Republican noise-machine could get any deeper, but it just did.