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Dunn, Da-Dunn Done

White House spokesperson Anita Dunn leaves her job to return to consulting. During her brief, interim tenure she fought Fox News and praised Mao Tse-Tung before prep school students. WaPo passes on WH source who says that Dunn was a kind of suicide bomber against Fox; having made the point, her departure can restore a semblance of normalcy.
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Discussions - 14 Comments

When do you think Glenn Beck will start his campaign to unplug Douglas Coe from the halls of power?

http://deepbackground.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/04/03/857959.aspx

Highlight:

Coe provides this account of the atrocities committed under Chairman Mao in Communist China: "I've seen pictures of the young men in the Red Guard…they would bring in this young man’s mother…he would take an axe and cut her head off. They have to put the purposes of the Red Guard ahead of father, mother, brother sister and their own life. That was a covenant, a pledge. That's what Jesus said."

In his preaching, Coe repeatedly urges a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. It’s a commitment Coe compares to the blind devotion that Adolph Hitler demanded from his followers -- a rhetorical technique that now is drawing sharp criticism.

"Hitler, Goebbels and Himmler were three men. Think of the immense power these three men had, these nobodies from nowhere,” Coe said.

Later in the sermon, Coe said: "Jesus said, ‘You have to put me before other people. And you have to put me before yourself.' Hitler, that was the demand to be in the Nazi party. You have to put the Nazi party and its objectives ahead of your own life and ahead of other people."

Coe also quoted Jesus and said: “One of the things [Jesus] said is 'If any man comes to me and does not hate his father, mother, brother, sister, his own life, he can't be a disciple.’ So I don't care what other qualifications you have, if you don't do that you can't be a disciple of Christ."

The difference of course being that Dunn was an official mouthpiece of the administration.

Beck can notch up another one, even though some people on this site find him distasteful. He's worth any thousand RINOs or assorted "thinker" types. As Lincoln said of Grant, "I can't spare this man. He fights!"

I'd want to see all of this in context, but on the face of it I don't see what's so objectionable about these Coe quotes. He doesn't seem to be praising Mao or Hitler, but comparing the sort of loyalty they demanded to the loyalty that Christ demands (and which is supported by Scripture). I imagine Coe--indeed, any Christian--would denounce people like Hitler and Mao for demanding from their followers that which is owed only to God. In any case, it hardly compares to what Dunn said when she announced that Mao was one of her heroes.

I have a feeling that Coe is talking about something like Genesis 22, where Abraham takes Isaac to the mountaintop to sacrifice him. In the end God does not have Abraham actually do it, of course.

Perhaps, the whole argument should simply be dropped then, as it seems pretty clear that Dunn was citing some pedestrian story about Mao just to make a larger point, as well.

http://mediamatters.org/research/200910190052

And she also cited Mother Teresa as one of her favorite political philosophers. So, if we consider them to be extant on different ends of the sociopolitical spectrum in most ways, and Dunn was actually following the messages of BOTH of them, then I guess that puts her right in the milquetoast, boring middle, doesn't it.

But I know, I know, Ashbrook guest of honor Glenn Beck said otherwise.... She was working to DESTROY AMERICA!

If somebody gave you a glass full of a concoction that was half water and half strychnine, would you drink it? Or would you figure that the two would cancel each other out?

Clever analogy, but I fail to see the strychnine in anything Dunn ever did (other than again, pedestrian, and fairly boring references to Mao and Mother Teresa in a commencement speech). What did she ever do or promote at the White House that was even REMOTELY comparable to anything Mao perpetrated or endorsed?? Was she behind the big plan for the FEMA camps (to round up and imprison all of Glenn Beck's fans?)? The Big If in my previous comment was IF she was following their leads in any tangible, substantive way. I seriously doubt it.

Going back to Douglas Coe, it's interesting to see how his C Street "Family" - including Bart Stupak and more than a handful of Dems - have succeeded in catering legislation (to the healthcare bill) to the pro-lifers, whereas, it appears that Dunn's biggest accomplishments were repeating the mantra that Obama was born in the USA, and that Fox is more of a conservative GOP propaganda organ than a news organization (as exemplified in the FoxNews producer actually leading cheers and chants at the 9/12 Glenn Beck tea party rally).

She listed Mao as one of her favorite political philosophers. What would you say if a Bush appointee had said that Hitler was one of his or her favorite political philosophers? Would you be saying, well, this person may admire Hitler, but he hasn't really done anything Hitlerian, so we should let it pass?

Hell, look what happened to Trent Lott when he said he was proud to have voted for Strom Thurmond (although he, personally, didn't do so, since he was only seven years old at the time of the election of 1948.

John, I think actions speak louder than words. Words matter, but only to the extent they're clear. George W. Bush claimed Jesus as his favorite philosopher, but it's highly debatable to what degree, if any, he acted and governed under Jesus's influence. Dunn was working in the words department (and indeed, others here at NLT have accused the Obama administration of being little more than words), and I think there's no good reason to think that she was pushing Obama to rule as some sort of murderous tyrant, or to even - despite the paranoid delusions of the right-wingers with a chronic persecution complex - shut down FoxNews and Co.

Here's Winston Churchill, speaking at the School of Relative Nuance:

"One may dislike Hitler's system and yet admire his patriotic achievement. If our country were defeated, I hope we should find a champion as admirable to restore our courage and lead us back to our place among the nations."
[From his Great Contemporaries, 1937]

(I'll offer that as part of my answer to "What would you say if a Bush appointee had said that Hitler was one of his or her favorite political philosophers?" Did the person in question refer to him as "admirable"? Admirable for what? His "patriotism"? Additionally, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if at least one of them did think as much, at least in the spirit of Coe's comments. Which I think indicates a dangerous authoritarian and destructive mindset (manifested in a desire to eliminate all that is not explicitly Christian - "Jesus plus nothing"), but not necessarily one that will act as brutally as Hitler, of course)

So, perhaps one might appreciate some abstract thoughts that came from Mao, but still be very much repulsed by his real-world despotic acts? Keep in mind that many serious thinkers from across the political spectrum appreciate the works of Heidegger, despite his praise for Nazism - which surely should always be kept in mind when dissecting his work. But Dunn is a communications person, not a political philosophy scholar (thus, her lame attempt to be shocking by juxtaposing Mother Teresa with Mao!). But again, if you look at Dunn's full quote, it doesn't appear that she admires Mao for any of his actions. And she never, despite your initial claim in this thread (and, interestingly, Beck's elsewhere), said that Mao was her "hero."

However, if Dunn had said something like this, I would have been calling for her dismissal myself:

"I do not understand the squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisonous gas against uncivilised tribes."
[Writing as president of the Air Council, 1919]

and imagine Dunn saying this:

"I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race, has come in and taken their place."
[Churchill to Palestine Royal Commission, 1937]

Come to think of it though, had she made similar proclamations, that might have put some conservatives at ease, and soothed the (Ashbrook-honored) Glenn Beck faction.

Let's also keep in mind Dunn's follow-up explanation, which seems fair enough:

"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," Dunn told CNN.

As for Beck's criticism: "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."

“Come to think of it though, had she made similar proclamations, that might have put some conservatives at ease, and soothed the (Ashbrook-honored) Glenn Beck faction.”

So let me get this straight. It’s out of line to call out a White House appointee who calls Mao Zedong one of her “favorite political philosophers,” but it’s acceptable to impute to conservatives a desire to use poison gas against people? Just trying to figure out what the rules are. After all, I wouldn’t want to be sent to any sort of camp or anything.

You’re use of 70-year-old quotes doesn’t impress me. They may look eye-popping today, but in the late 1930s would not have been all that unusual at all. The muted praise for Hitler would have been especially common; after all, in 1937 nobody knew the true depths of Hitler’s evil. A similar quotation in 1945 would have been unthinkable.

As for Dunn, so what if she got the Mao quote from Lee Atwater? Lots of people quote Mao; I’ve been known to do it myself from time to time. He has some pretty memorable quotes, particularly “A revolution is not a dinner party.” There’s a world of difference between quoting him and naming him a favorite political philosopher.

I also find it interesting that you accept her explanation that her comment was “intended as irony.” You’re giving her the benefit of the doubt when you’ve been repeatedly unwilling to do the same in your comments here. None of us at NLT has a White House job that we’re trying to protect.

To reiterate my position, in short: those in high-profile political positions need to watch their mouths. If you want to be governor, don’t call a dark-skinned man “macaca.” If you want to hold on to a leadership position in the Senate, don’t tell everyone how much better America would be today had Strom Thurmond been elected president in 1948. If you want to keep your job as a White House spokesperson, don’t tell an audience of prep school students that Mao Zedong is one of your favorite political philosophers. But if you do, don’t start whining when the other side chooses to make an issue of it.

I think its worse if they think it and keep it in. Lets have a real debate over Mao, Hitler, ect. I really think we need to come to grips with the 20th century, recognize the paralells and decide of if going down those roads is worth the risk.

Be careful bashing "the family" Craig, that quasi fascist group has more of a connection to ashbrook than Glenn Beck. I don't buy the its not a big deal arguments either. The group is infatuated with hitler because he had power over poeple in an awsome way. Its power worship pure and simple. Point me to the part of the gospels where Christ said manipulate and control the masses to do thy bidding. There is a ton of information out there about this group and their ideals from poeple who were on the inside if you are willing to look.

I think both examples are a big deal.

"You’re use of 70-year-old quotes doesn’t impress me. They may look eye-popping today, but in the late 1930s would not have been all that unusual at all. The muted praise for Hitler would have been especially common; after all, in 1937 nobody knew the true depths of Hitler’s evil. A similar quotation in 1945 would have been unthinkable."

That's all true, but when one considers, in combination, Churchill's early admiration for Hitler AND his approval for "using poison gas against uncivilised tribes" and his notions of "a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race" having every right to displace inferior races, well, it seems like he might've shared some of Hitler's more controversial views (Hitler had no qualms with displacing what he saw as lower-grade races) to a problematic extent. Perhaps his opinions on poison gas and racial hierarchies changed after he saw some photos of piles of bodies at the death camps. Whereas, what controversial ideas, what actions of Mao's did Dunn ever appear to endorse or agree with? She said that Mao was one of "the two people that I turn to most to basically deliver a simple point, which is, you're going to make choices." Wow. Significant. And she quoted Mao for this:
"You fight your war, and I'll fight mine."

I've heard elderly couples say such things at the laundromat. Scary!

Nothing about poison gas, uncivilised tribes, comparing people to dogs, or the naturalness of superior races displacing inferior races.

If she has ever truly embraced any of Mao's controversial ideas, or endorsed any of his acts, even in a sideways fashion, I'd love to know of it, and then her absence at the White House will make more sense to me.

"....it’s acceptable to impute to conservatives a desire to use poison gas against people"

It's more typical I hear such thoughts from conservatives at bars and tea party rallies, but I think it wouldn't be that hard to find a right-wing pundit, perhaps even a Big Name Conservative Pundit, to find such quotes. I can't say I've ever heard a liberal utter the line "Nuke 'em all, and let God sort 'em out!" referring to Muslims and/or Arabs (the conflation of the two is hardly unusual).

It's also much worse to berate a non-white journalist asking questions at a press event, and call him "macaca" than it is to employ a benign, banal Mao quote to encourage young grads to make hard decisions. The devil is in the details!

For example, if someone tells me they're favorite political philosopher is Stalin, my question would likely be "Why so?," not "How can you approve of that murderous tyrant?"

Interestingly, based on the facts at hand, even your own examples, in your own words (macaca thing, Strom Thurmond-better world) make the Dunn statement seem like very small beer in comparison....

Whoops, meant to write "...if someone tells me THEIR favorite political philosopher is Stalin..."

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