It has been more than three months since the Communist Party USA chairman loudly announced he is voting for Hillary Clinton this November, despite supporting Bernie Sanders in the primaries.
So why has the Democratic nominee, who is so focused on depicting Donald Trump as beholden to extremists,failed to renounce her illustrious alt-left supporter?
Interim Democratic Party chair Donna Brazile has ignored repeated inquiries for this column. But a chance encounter yesterday with Hillary campaign chairman John Podesta on K Street proved illuminating. Especially, because I introduced myself as a Daily Caller reporter who most people run away from or hang up on when asked embarrassing questions. But I told Podesta, in all seriousness, that he seemed too sophisticated to do something like that and look really guilty.
Shaking my hand and smiling, he readily accepted the challenge. Founder of the Center for American Progress, Podesta was accompanied by a bearded white man whose subsequent attempt to run interference quickly demonstrated he does not have a bright future in public relations crisis management.
Podesta probably expected a question on the Hillary emails. Instead, I noted that the chairman of the CPUSA just announced he is voting for Hillary and asked Podesta if he wishes to disavow the support.
Offering the typical clumsy evasive technique of pleading total ignorance and befuddlement about something obvious and simple, he quickly walked away. Talk about a liberal in a hurry!
“What do you need to know John?” I demanded. “He said he is voting for her. What do you need to know?”
Walking faster and faster Podesta insisted that, “I have no idea what you are talking about.”
“So why don’t you Google it and then you will know,” I replied. “The Communist Party chairman endorsed her.”
He was deluged with more basic factual questions to show his profession of total ignorance — like I just asked him about a newly discovered planet — was an obvious ruse.
“Do you know what the Communist Party is? Do you know what the Communist Party is?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about. So I’ll Google it”
Have you heard of longtime chairman Gus Hall?
“Gus Hall? Is he still alive?” Podesta asked, finally conceding that he was not entirely unfamiliar with the subject matter, despite having just tried to pretend that I had buttonholed him and demanded to know Hillary’s official position on the newly-crowned Planet Zeg.
But Podesta did not respond when asked, “what’s the difference between a Democrat and Communist?”
Amidst the furious questioning Podesta’s unidentified comrade basically demanded to know why I was making such a big deal out of this matter.
Gee, I don’t know.
Maybe because the CPUSA was a Soviet spy apparatus often intertwined with the Democratic Party? Or maybe because it seems like an obvious question to ask since everybody continually demands that Donald Trump disassociate himself from David Duke, with whom he was never really associated with anyway? And even when Donald Trump disavows him the Washington Post outright lies and says he has not done it recently.
Or maybe because I admire Democrats like civil rights lawyer Joe Rauh, one of the founders of Americans for Democratic Action, Liberal Party founder Alex Rose, longtime New Republic Owner Marty Peretz and all the union leaders who fought a long, hard and courageous battle to separate domestic communists and other hardcore leftists from classic American liberalism?
OK, buddy, does that clear up the confusion?
Friendly advice: next time try not to sound so defensive and condescending. Pretend to be helpful and sympathetic but stay non-committal on substance. “Hi, Evan. John really appreciates your passion. But he is on the way to a meeting. If you give me your cell phone number I am sure he would be happy to call you and discuss this later.”
But never mind me. It’s not all about me.
What does this exchange say about Washington journalism and the Democratic Party? Once upon a time, as recounted above, establishment Democrats, like Podesta, took great pains to avoid being associated with Communists.
And why was he blindsided by the question anyway? Why didn’t he just try to turn the guilt by association game around on me and demand that I disavow the evil Steve Bannon?
On the other hand, maybe the inquiry was understandably jarring because nobody else in town has pressed Dems on the endorsement. That says quite a bit about Washington journalistic, sloth, arrogance and liberal bias.
But since one prime goal for this column is to show how public figures, particularly in Washington, act when no cameras are around (Podesta probably did not even notice that the guy who approached him was holding a small camcorder, off and pointed downward) it’s worth noting that at least he agreed to talk to some random person from the Daily Caller who stopped him on a public sidewalk. Not at a public event where people would have been watching.
Lots of other lefties and liberals, including folks far less accomplished than Podesta — that means you TalkingPointsMemo.com founder Josh Marshall and CNN talking head Van Jones — plus assorted conservative personalities who also lack his stature think they are way too precious to answer even simple routine inquiries for this column. Jones, for example, would not even discuss the Koch Brothers’ criminal justice reform efforts that he had just praised to the Washington Post.
So nice to finally meet you, John.
But next time, let’s schmooze some more. Don’t be such a liberal in a hurry.