Anita Dunn is the White House Communications Director, who’s been quoted everywhere for her on-target assertions that Fox News is a Republican channel, not a news channel. When I heard her say it a few days ago I was stunned (in a good way) that she was making this the official White House position. Sure, we’ve all known it for years, but it’s never been said by the Democrats on the record, and this was long overdue.
And now, just seconds ago, I watched Glenn Beck take Anita Dunn’s scalp, playing again and again a video clip of her telling an assembly of high school students, “My two favorite philosophers are Mao Tse-Tung and Mother Teresa.” He kept playing it, holding up a picture of Mao and reciting the usual litany, including the claim that Mao had killed more people than Hitler (70 million is the number he used). It was devastating. Beck is evil, but you have to give him credit for cunning and for dramatic effect. This made for very good theater. And you have to wonder, could Dunn actually have said this? How could she not see the danger?
I see Fox News as bad news (pun intended) and I see Glenn Beck as a bad man. But unless that clip was doctored and shown wildly out of context, Beck scored a coup today. I don’t think it was entirely fair, but when is politics fair? And you can’t really fault Beck, as much as I’d like to. If the Democrats had a similar clip of Rush, I think they’d trot it out, too.
Dunn clearly meant that she admired Mao’s determination to continue going after his goal – to overthrow the Nationalist government – despite being told it was an impossible dream. She was talking about persistence. And Beck, of course, twisted that to make it sound as if she were endorsing the cold-blooded murder of 70 million Chinese. However, there are many wonderful examples of people who persevered in the face of difficult odds. To single out Mao, of all the inspiring people throughout history to choose from, as her mentor in this regard is inexplicable, and she will pay a heavy price. Needless to say, it will give Beck and the wingnuttosphere more fuel for claiming it’s an administration of radical Marxists who are scheming to impose their own Cultural Revolution on America. It was painful to watch. She actually said Mao is one of the people she turns to most.
Yes, Mao was persistent, as most tyrants are. Unfortunately – and again, like most tyrants – he also left a stream of death and destruction in his wake that China is still reeling from. How could she not know this? My jaw dropped. Score one for Beck.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.