Of Beards and Marxism

Of Beards and Marxism

Of Beards and Marxism

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 16 2010 3:19 PM

Of Beards and Marxism

I was just on the radio with John Hawkins of Right Wing News , discussing the U.S. Senate race in Delaware. Hawkins said that Democrat Chris Coons had a 90 percent chance of victory -- I agree -- but added that he had weaknesses, such as the fact that he once called himself a "Bearded Marxist."

Well, not quite. In May, Politico's Alex Isenstadt uncovered an article that Coons wrote in 1985, as a student at Amherst. The title was "Chris Coons: The Making of a Bearded Marxist," and it explained why he left for a summer in Kenya (Dinesh D'Souza, look!) as a Republican but returned as a liberal with doubts about the greatness of capitalism, although he said that his flirtation with unpatriotic thoughts was over.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for the Washington Post. 

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My friends now joke that something about Kenya, maybe the strange diet,or the tropical sun, changed my personality; Africa to them seems acatalytic converter that takes in clean-shaven, clear-thinkingAmericans and sends back bearded Marxists.

First, a hat tip to the double major in Physics and Political Science for dropping "catalytic converter" into the sentence. Second, no one cared until Tuesday. And now, in Powerline:

Coons is the guy who once proudly held himself out as "the bearded Marxist."

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By the way, this Democrat is a Marxist. I mean, there's a joke goingaround that here's a bearded Marxist or Marxist with a beard. Hedescribes himself that way! This guy is a sitting duck.

The opponent in November once described himself as " a bearded Marxist ." Since then, he’s lost he beard.

Folks, the guy was talking about a joke his friends were making. After the column he went into politics, then the private sector, then back into politics as a politician in New Castle County. He's spent six years as county executive, which would have been a great place to try out Marxist theory. Sadly, he became a pretty standard cut-some-spending-increase-property-taxes hack.

It's obvious why conservatives will bring this up. Not only has Glenn Beck brought the word "Marxist" from sarcasm to a Grave Threat to America, it's frustrating to watch Christine O'Donnell get beaten up for all of the stuff she said as a pundit in the 1990s. The problem is that she was a pundit in the 1990s . She's spent her life as an activist, pundit, spokesperson and candidate, so there's nothing else to go on when assessing her views. If she'd spent a term on county council not passing anti-masturbation bills, then she'd have proof that her views don't speak to what sort of senator she'd be. But we don't have anything else to assess.

David Weigel is a reporter for the Washington Post.