For months, I’ve been wanting to write about Victoria Jackson. Now you all probably know her from Saturday Night Live where she usually played a dumb blond. And then she came out as a big Tea Party member and we all knew that it wasn’t an act. Media Matters wrote an excellent article on her political evolution, How Fringe Media Helped Turn a Conspiracy-Loving SNL Star Into a Politician. But despite it all, I really do think that she’s a very funny woman. Here is her own song, “There’s a Communist Living in the White House.” Pushing aside that it is totally ignorant, not only of the president but of what communism is, I think it is quite charming. Jackson is a good example of just how dangerous strongly held opinions, enormous ignorance, and moderate celebrity can be:
My favorite line is, “Doesn’t anyone read history?” Yeah, Victoria, some of us actually do read history. That’s why we know what is “communism” and what is just “some policy I don’t like.” The parts about how maybe she’s stupid and maybe she’s crazy are less charming, because they’re meant as insults not just to liberals but to her own family and friends. Some Christian she is!
I don’t mind that she mentions that only Glenn Beck understands her. I wish she didn’t follow it up with other people who are the only one who understands her. But okay: she’s silly and I like that. But Sean Hannity?! He’s just a partisan hack. Whatever the Republican Party believes, he repeats. If the Republican Party went communist, there’d be a communist in Sean Hannity’s chair.
But it is the middle section of the song that makes it so great. This is where she goes through the reasons that she knows there’s a communist in the White House, “Where do you want me to start?” That’s always a bad way to start an argument because it usually means, “I haven’t much thought about it.” But she’s able to go through all the great hate radio talking points:
- His grandparents were socialist. While she says this, behind her is an article about Frank Marshall Davis, who was said to be Obama’s mentor but wasn’t really. It’s also not the case that Davis was a communist, but in the 1940s and 1950s, pretty much any community organizer was labeled a communist at one time or another. I’ve never actually heard anything about the political leanings of his grandparents. His grandfather fought in World War II. His grandmother worked making bombers during the war. But this is entirely typical of conservatives. I still burn with anger at what conservatives were willing to say about war hero John Kerry just to win a political fight.
- His father was a communist. I think it is safe to say that his father was a socialist. Given that Obama barely knew him, I don’t see what difference this makes. And even if he had grown up with him, we generally don’t hold children accountable for their parents’ actions and beliefs.
- He had “Marxist” professors. This comes from part of Dreams of My Father. And the remark is about how he tried to be “cool.” Here is the whole paragraph:
To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets. We smoked cigarettes and wore leather jackets. At night, in the dorms, we discussed neocolonialism, Franz Fanon, Eurocentrism, and patriarchy. When we ground out our cigarettes in the hallway carpet or set our stereos so loud that the walls began to shake, we were resisting bourgeois society’s stifling constraints. We weren’t indifferent or careless or insecure. We were alienated. But this strategy alone couldn’t provide the distance I wanted, from Joyce or my past. After all, there were thousands of so-called campus radicals, most of them white and tenured and happily tolerated. No, it remained necessary to prove which side you were on, to show your loyalty to the black masses, to strike out and name names.
It’s not about politics; it’s about being young.
- He taught a course on Saul Alinsky. Alinsky was explicitly not a communist. But for some reason he is a boogeyman for conservatives, even while they submerge themselves in Rules for Radicals for help with their astroturfing efforts.
- His college records are sealed. That’s a common conspiracy theory, that even if it were true is simply racist and has nothing to do with him being a communist.
- Obama said “spread the wealth” (to the liar Joe the Plumber) which is a direct quote from the Communist Manifesto. Not to nitpick, but that book was written in German, so it can’t be a direct quote. The English translation not only doesn’t have that phrase, it has no similar phrase. What’s more, “spread the wealth” is not the same as “redistribute the wealth.” And as people like me have been saying all along, the redistribution that is going on is the same as is always going on: from the poor to the rich.
- He appointed Van Jones who is a “reported” communist. By this she means that when Jones was 24 he claimed to be a communist and probably knew as much about the term then as Jackson does now. He had long ago repudiated the statement.
- His preacher was Jeremiah Wright and he followed black liberation theology, which some conservatives call Marxist. Obama, in a typical act of cowardice, repudiated Wright. But really, what in the world do conservatives not call Marxist?
- He had the government take over the banks and the car industry. He didn’t.
- He was trying to “jam socialized medicine done our throats.” Yes, and he was so sneaky about it that it was done in the form of free market reforms that all conservatives were in favor of until Obama accepted it.
- He was for Cap and Trade. Again, it was another typical communist trick of using a free market approach to a social problem. It is strange that it is the very thing that John McCain ran against Obama on in 2008.
She ends with, “How much more proof do you need?” My answer to that would be, “Any!” But it shows why people claim that Obama is a communist and why the same people called Bill Clinton a communist. It’s the same reason that Bill O’Reilly calls any politician or pundit who disagrees with him “far left.” Because the conservative movement has moved so far to the right that they can’t see that ideas like Obamacare are conservative in an absolute sense. Cap and Trade is another free market conservative idea. These people have no idea what real leftist policies are. And as I often rant around here, “Why don’t we nationalize the banks, given that the conservatives are just going to say that we are doing that anyway?” Why don’t we have socialized medicine like they do in the United Kingdom, given that conservatives are just going to say that we are doing that anyway? Why don’t we provide a guaranteed income given that conservatives already claim we do?!
Victoria Jackson is silly and charming and funny. But her thinking on these matters is no less serious than most other conservatives and certainly no worse than the likes of Amy Kremer. If I had a ukulele, I’d perform a song about all the Tea Party members who have been elected to the House and the Senate. It would be called, “There’s a Bunch of Idiots in the Congress!”