Be More Communist!


This Wall Street Journal column by Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa ("the highest-ranking intelligence official ever to have defected from the Soviet bloc") sort of landed with a thud, which is too bad, because it includes wisdom like this:

For once, the communists got it right. It is America's leader that counts.

Yes, it's about how Americans need to show more deference to the man who leads one-third of the government. In the Cold War, see, Communists spread nasty rumors and unpleasant historical tales about the president in order to weaken America—just like many Americans say nasty things about George Bush! For example, in 2004 (Pacepa provides no examples fresher than three years old) "visitors to the national chairman of the Democratic Party had to step across a doormat depicting the American president surrounded by the words, 'Give Bush the Boot.'" Really, it's a miracle we've survived this long.

Note also that Pacepa credits Jimmy Carter's image "as a bumbling peanut farmer" to the well-oiled Communist propaganda machine.

It's all just incredibly weird and wrongheaded. Given that we switched up Leaders every few years did anti-presidential propaganda really play a bigger role than anti-American propaganda, anti-American-militarism propaganda, and so on? Pacepa lumps in "lies" about Vietnam with his presidential examples, possibly because his presidential cultishness is too weak to sustain the whole column.

My favorite writer on the cult of the presidency is Gene Healy, although he was never in the KGB so I don't know if we can take his opinions seriously.