WASHINGTON -- Well, that did not take long! Just weeks after initiating a war of words with Fox News and being exposed as an admirer of Chairman Mao's, Anita Dunn, the White House communications director, is stepping down. I intimated as much a couple of weeks back, when I lumped her in with two other Obama administration zanies who were forced to resign -- environmental czar Van Jones and National Endowment for the Arts spokesman Yosi Sergant.
My point was that recent Democratic administrations always have welcomed to Washington fleets of eccentrics who are not to be believed. Both the Carter and the Clinton administrations were abundant with such characters, e.g., a woman who talked to monuments late at night and a surgeon general who propounded the salubrious benefits of masturbation publicly -- by which I mean speaking of it in public, not actually performing it in public. Those are just two of the many bizarre figures who come to mind. Now we have the Obama administration, and I have prophesied that its zanies will outnumber those from both previous menageries combined.
The question for the moment is: Which indiscretion weighed most heavily against Dunn's tenure, the war with Fox or the praise of Mao? During her assaults on Fox News Channel, she denounced the cable network as "a wing of the Republican Party" and "opinion journalism masquerading as news." In an extended shriek, she said last month, "The reality of it is that Fox News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party." Is that sulfur I smell?
Actually, I doubt it was her war on Fox that caused the White House communications director to bail. After all, she is not the only White House operative to assail Fox. There have been others. Chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has claimed that Fox is not a "legitimate news organization." White House senior adviser David Axelrod has said that Fox is "not really a news organization." The president himself has gotten in on the act.
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