Bill Clinton castigates Allen West over communists in Congress
Former president Bill Clinton showed up to rally the troops at an Obama fundraiser last night, and took a shot at Rep. Allen West (R-FL) for talking about communists in Congress:
(Hat tip to The Right Scoop for the video.) It’s not surprising that a speech from America’s disgraced perjurer President would be riddled with lies and nonsense. Just for starters, how in the world is anyone’s position on Obama’s birth certificate supposed to have prevented the President from doing his job? We’ve had three years of double-digit unemployment because some people wanted to see a birth certificate?
I assume Clinton meant his “nobody’s seen a communist in over a decade” exclamation as a joke, but the joke’s on him. Every student at a major American university has seen communists much more recently than that.
Also, Barack Obama’s choice for “green czar,” Van Jones, was a self-professed communist. He would have ended up with control over billions of taxpayer dollars, if his radical views (including sympathy for nutjob 9/11 conspiracy theories) had not been exposed. Jones found it politically inconvenient to keep describing himself as a communist, but he never really renounced it. By his own account, he was an avowed communist for 10 years after the Rodney King riots in 1992, which puts him just inside Clinton’s ten-year window. (If Clinton was actually making a veiled reference to Van Jones, then I must salute his subtle sense of humor.)
FYI for Mr. Clinton: the person who “just last week” insinuated that Barack Hussein Obama was not born in America was Barack Hussein Obama, or whoever wrote his literary biography for him. Oh, and maybe Clinton should try cracking a history book before he shoots his mouth off about the 1950s. There were a hell of a lot more than “one or two living communists” walking around back then.
But most importantly, we come back once again to what Allen West actually said, versus Bill Clinton’s lazy caricature of it. West was not saying he suspected a number of secret card-carrying commie agents had infiltrated Congress. He was comparing the beliefs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to communism, and asserting that a very thin line separates “mainstream” leftist creeds like socialism and progressivism from Marxism and communism.
All of those ideologies are different, but West believes their similarities are more pertinent than their differences. As he later explained, “It’s about nationalizing means of production. It’s about expanding the welfare state and economic justice. You hear that now played out with fairness, fair share or economic equality, shared sacrifice ad nauseum, ad infinitum. It’s also about the creation of a secular state.”
West was delivering a challenge, and an insult, not espousing a wild-eyed conspiracy theory. Don’t all the Democrats who refer to the Tea Party as “unpatriotic,” “un-American,” and (in the words of our sitting Vice President) “terrorists” defend themselves by claiming they were using metaphor and hyperbole? In fact, the thrust of Clinton’s little tirade is to smear the Tea Party by painting them as McCarthyite obsessives. That’s not materially different from charging the “progressive” wing of the Democrat Party with absorbing an unhealthy degree of communist ideology, and West can back up his charge far more effectively than Clinton can.
It’s not fair to accuse West of hyperbole, because he backs up his challenge with very specific points, which everyone from liberal network anchors to Bill Clinton is noticeably reticent about addressing. West is using what many would describe as over-the-top language by invoking communism. People have a similar, but much more severe, visceral reaction to introducing “fascism” into any discussion of American politics. But how many of the people who recoil from those terms have any real understanding of what they really mean… or more importantly, precisely why they are bad?
We certainly wouldn’t tolerate a little bit of fascism mixed into our politics (much less Nazism, which is not the same thing, although the two are frequently conflated.) Why should we tolerate a little bit of communism? And how can we be properly intolerant of these contagions, if we don’t fully understand what they are, how they germinate, and what symptoms they produce? Contrary to Bill Clinton’s exhortations, communism is not nearly as thin a presence in American political and academic life as fascism. If only it were.
I can’t help thinking Allen West smiles when he hears comments like Clinton’s. Each time, some number of listeners draws closer to wondering why nobody on the Left seems capable of discussing the history of “progressivism,” or its distinctions from communism, with the same level of detail as Rep. West. Wouldn’t it be interesting to hear someone like Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama, explain exactly why nationalized industry and the collective ownership of capital are horrible, unspeakable evils that Americans should absolutely oppose?