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February 09, 2010


Brendan says Norquist described his movement-building plans "in the same terms as a Communist-style revolution." The quote Brendan provides describes pretty much anybody's movement-building plans, and could apply as easily to Obama's coalition as to Norquist's. Yet I'm guessing that if we were to say that Obama is a Leninist, Brendan would strongly object. And even if we were to say that Obama's movement-building plans were the same as a Communist-style revolution, wouldn't Brendan call foul?

But beyond that, let's be clear. Using Lenin's tactics doesn't make one a Leninist, which implies endorsement not only of Lenin's tactics but also his political philosophy. Being the Lenin of the right is far far different from being a Leninist. And quoting with approval one statement by Lenin does not make one a Leninist. Unless Pearlstein has better evidence than Brendan has adduced for Norquist having said he's a Leninist, it is Pearlstein who's the liar, not Norquist.

In the cited 2005 post, Brendan bolded the section where Norquist pointed out that the union of several sets of voters could be a majority, even though each set constituted a minority of voters. Norquist was describing a way to build a majority political coalition rather than make a revolution with the support of only a minority. This is the opposite of gaining power through revolution, as Lenin did.

Incidentally, Professor Pearlstein made some pretty wild accusations against Norquist without offering evidence that they were true. I guess Brendan's sympathy depends on whose ox is being gored.

Extremely weak post Brendan.

It seems beyond obvious to me that accepting being called "the Lenin of the Right" is not even close to being equivilent to being a "Leninist" i.e. agreeing with Lenin's philosophies. (Can you even be on the right and accept Lenin's philosophy i.e socialism/ communism?)

I have difficulty believing you would even think to equate them.

MartyB - very puzzling...

The issue is whether Norquist repeatedly drew analogies between his tactics and Lenin's, not whether he's a Communist (obviously not). As far as David's point, the question of whether Norquist is trying to "get rid of Social Security and Medicare" depends on what you think of privatization (i.e. it's an ideological question).

PS Rob and David: You seem to be missing the analogy in the New Yorker quote ("With that group, you can take over the country, starting with the airports and the radio stations.")

Brendan, give me a break. Norquist was pointing out that the only way a group constituting a very small portion of the population can gain power is by violent revolution, whereas a more broadly based coalition can gain power at the polls. There is nothing--nothing!--in Norquist's history to suggest he's encouraging people to storm the airports and radio stations. On the contrary, he's clearly a proponent of building a coalition and accomplishing his goals through the democratic process.

Apparently "polemicist" is the new abbreviation of "political scientist."

Fair enough -- I didn't mean to imply he's saying people should storm the airports and radio stations (thought that was obvious). Will clarify above.

Thanks, Brendan, but permit me a quibble. Your new title is "Norquist denies admiration of Lenin's tactics." I haven't listened to the audio, but in the portion you quoted, Norquist denied that he is a Leninist and denied that he has Lenin as a hero. There's nothing in the quoted material about Lenin's tactics. Pearlstein doesn't accuse him of admiring Lenin's tactics, and Norquist doesn't deny it.

Other than that, your title is fine.

Brendan, you're half way there in noting that Norquist wasn't proposing a Communist revolution. My interpretation is that he was recommending against one. Although the bolded section is somewhat ambiguous, I think the word "but" means he was recommending his latter alternative rather than the former.

It's ridiculous spin to call a proposed change in the structure of Social Security or Medicare "getting rid of it." An analogy would be referring to Obama's proposed change in the structure of medical care as "getting rid of medical care." You can see how silly this usage would be.

What makes that spin particularly outrageous is that SS and Medicare are unsustainable as they stand (speaking as an actuary.) Massive changes are essential in order to maintain those programs.

Norquist isn't a Leninist, but he certainly IS a racist (he called Barack Obama a "tan John Kerry").

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