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.
The woman meant no harm. Anita Dunn didn't really mean that Mao was one of her favorite philosophers, I'm sure. I doubt she has any "favorite" philosophers. In fact, I doubt she has ever read anything by Chairman Mao or Karl Marx unless it was in the Reader's Digest Condensed Philosophy in One Easy-to-Read Volume. Maybe, just maybe, she's read about some of Lee Atwater's incendiary remarks. Or maybe one of her speechwriters has. I'm sure she's a know-nothing idiot who has benefited from an Ivy League education or equivalent or has majored in Communication, with a minor is Leadership.
What all these killjoys don't understand is that Mao is chic. He has a certain je ne sais quoi not appreciated by squares like Roger Kimball, Mark Steyn and all the rest who stayed indoors and plowed through these thinkers' work while the Anita Dunns of the world were out in the fresh air demonstrating in favor of _____________ (insert name of your favorite left-wing hero here) or going to Barack Obama rallies.
It's all about style. Mao might have caused a bit of trouble, but he is a Designer Name to the left. As is Fidel Castro. Ditto Che Guevara. Tossing off these names carelessly in a speech signify that the speaker is hip, cool and groovy and capable of deep thought.
The actual activities or writings of these iconic figures are irrelevant. Quoting them is as important as wearing the right kind of jeans, and has as much significance.
One of my friends was considering a vacation trip to Cuba. I protested: "Don't you know Castro puts poets in jail? And homosexuals into concentration camps?" Her eyes glazed over as she dismissed these irrelevant observations. A visit to Cuba was the in thing to progressives like her. The actual facts could not matter less.