The Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal
By JOHN FUND
Mao Tse Tung is one of White House communications director Anita Dunn’s favorite philosophers.
Anita Dunn, the White House’s communications director who has declared war on Fox News, came under scrutiny herself last week when it was discovered she had told an audience that Mao Tse Tung was one of her favorite political philosophers and quoted Mao on how to “fight your war.” In her speech last June, after she joined the Obama White House, Ms. Dunn said the “two people I turn to most” were Mother Teresa and Mao Tse-Tung. She barely discussed the late nun, but waxed at length about the lessons Mao had taught her.
To call Mao a “political philosopher” is a stretch. As Roger Kimball of the New Criterion reminds us, the great Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski properly labeled the Chinese revolutionary “one of the greatest, if not the very greatest, manipulator of large masses of human beings in the twentieth century.”
Indeed, the Mao revelation prompted William Ratliff, an expert on China with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, to call her statement “outrageous and pathetic” given that Mao’s role in the deaths of some 50 million people “makes it impossible for any serious person” to view him as a great philosopher.
Ms. Dunn is now trying to pin her quote on a dead adviser to President George H.W. Bush. “The Mao quote is one I picked up from the late Republican strategist Lee Atwater from something I read in the late 1980s, so I hope I don’t get my progressive friends mad at me,” Ms. Dunn told CNN.
She went on to explain that Fox host Glenn Beck’s criticism was off-base because “the use of the phrase ‘favorite political philosophers’ was intended as irony, but clearly the effort fell flat — at least with a certain Fox commentator whose sense of irony may be missing.”
Ms. Dunn’s lame explanation might have some traction if the videotape of her speech at the time displayed the slightest trace of irony. But it doesn’t. The videos show her speaking in complete earnestness.