A reader writes:
When I read a humor-challenged remark like yours today I can hardly believe it comes from the same man who loves South Park. It was a laugh line and the audience laughed.
If Dunn had said "my two favorite moral philosophers, Attila the Hun and Saint Paul," would you pompously chide her for "kind words" about a mass murderer? Good joke or bad, I challenge you to find a kind word for Mao in her statement. She quotes him to make a point. Mao sometimes said insightful things. Like many people, I've used the quotation about power coming from the mouth of a gun, and it didn't make me feel like pulling on a Guevara T-shirt.
On a more serious note, we all hate the caution and blandness of almost every word that comes out of the mouths of people in public life in this country. Yet every time we flyspeck innocuous remarks and help spread faux outrage, we help enforce a deplorable rule against trying to be interesting. The press is teaching Anita Dunn the same lesson it taught Sonia Sotomayor: a joke that falls flat might cost you your job.