When someone quotes someone, the quote itself may be fine even if the person who said it was less than a perfect human specimen. For example, when the White House communications director recently quoted Mao Zedong, the roar of protest from conservatives was predictably deafening. Yes, Mao was responsible for the deaths of perhaps 50 to 60 million people, which is a crime which cannot be defended.
However, the quote itself — “You fight your war, and I’ll fight mine” — doesn’t seem all that controversial. If anything, the Mother Theresa quote, “Go find your own Calcutta,” spoken in response to someone asking how they could help her, sounds positively snippy. And unless the Republicans have forgotten, it was Richard Nixon who went to China, hung out with Mao, shook his hand, and engaged in diplomacy with this mass murderer. What would their reaction be today if President Obama personally went to talk with a leader responsible for tens of millions of deaths? It isn’t hard to imagine.
However, one ironic thing that the Republicans probably aren’t very eager to bring up is the Communist mass murderer in their own closet. In his book The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule, author Thomas Frank points out how some conservative strategists such as Grover Norquist apparently harbor an admiration for Joseph Stalin. For example, here is a Norquist quote from Mr. Frank’s book:
First, we want to remove liberal personnel from the political process. Then we want to capture those positions of power and influence for conservatives. Stalin taught the importance of this principle. He was running the personnel department, while Trotsky was fighting the White Army. When push came to shove for control of the Soviet Union, Stalin won. His people were in place and Trotsky’s were not…. With this principle in mind, conservatives must do all they can to get jobs in Washington.
As a political strategy, it’s one that conservatives have been using for a number of years. Does this, however, mean that they embrace everything Stalin stood for? It’s pretty doubtful.
There is one other thing that’s interesting about this. Anita Dunn told CNN that she picked up the Mao quote from … Lee Atwater, the legendary GOP strategist.