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Wait, am I a socialist?

So the conservative blogosphere is raising the alarm about the book selections in the White House, supposedly made by the first lady, which include a few on the early-20th century American socialist movement. Academic books. About a once significant American political movement. That actually sound like interesting reads, regardless of your politics.

Of course, that’s just my take. And I majored in Russian studies, so I’ve read a whole lot of Marx. Not because I think his prescriptions for social organization are valid. (Much to the contrary.) But because there is still ample historical and philosophical value in jousting with his ideas. I even have some of his books…on my bookshelves at home.

If the White House library really is “evidence” that Michelle Obama a socialist, I’m going to have to reexamine my convictions. Maybe I've been a socialist all along!

In fact, what this episode demonstrates is that everyone should read a little Marx, particularly Rob Port, the self-described “bibliophile” who snapped the picture of the White House library during a tour in order to blog his cheap shot. If he did, he might discover that redefining the word socialism in this country to mean anything left of Olympia Snowe is pretty intellectually dishonest, and that ideologically knee-capping the Obamas based on bookshelves and Christmas ornaments is even smaller in comparison to the big ideas he is misrepresenting.

By Stephen Stromberg  | February 18, 2010; 1:33 PM ET
Categories:  Stromberg  | Tags:  Stephen Stromberg  
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It's nice to know that Mrs. Obama is interested in history...hopefully a couple of the books she put in there have something to do with basic economics and the Constitution...though judging by her past comments and Obama's current dabbling in the art of creating class envy, and more entitlement programs I doubt it.

Posted by: faktcheker | February 18, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Bob Port represents a photo taken inside of the White House? Isn't that ... ILLEGAL????????????????????

Posted by: bs2004 | February 18, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

You might be a REDneck...

Posted by: adamnescot1 | February 18, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

So it has come to this. What a pitiful state our country is in when ignorance is bliss and slithery stalkers have nothing better to do than take photos of classical literature they will never read nor understand.

Posted by: vitality1 | February 18, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Rob Port, whoever he is when he's at home, probably isn't the numbskull his behavior suggests, but you gotta wonder...

Posted by: fdrew | February 18, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

There are about a half dozen conservative blogs who are commenting on this post by Mr. Port at Say Anything. So far, it's three who think he's an idiot and three who think he's right.

Unless you believe there are only 3 blogs in the "conservative blogosphere" and they are "raising the alarm" about Obama's socialism, I recommend you amend your article to reflect the fact that an extremely small number of conservative blogs even care about this matter and that half of them oppose the loon.

Rick Moran

Posted by: elvenstar522 | February 18, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

As I recall from history, again, in Stalin's Russia you were labeled based on the books in your library.

It is sad to see that although we defeated the Soviets, the conservative fanatics want to implement theor thinking and methods here.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | February 18, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

I also notice a book on populism. Do you suppose that Obama is really a closet teabagger?

@Rick Moran: There may be very few blogs that care about this particular matter, but the litany that Obama is a socialist, communist, Marxist, fascist, etc. is all over the place, including the WP site.

Posted by: sjpatejak | February 18, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you, but Is there anyone who writes for the Post, other than David Broder (with whom I mostly disagree but still respect) who is capable of expressing an opinion without resorting to sarcasm?

Posted by: jemaddux | February 18, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

I find it so thoroughly depressing that "intellectual" is like a 4 letter word to these people. God forbid a person be well-read. Smart = good, ignorance=bad.

Posted by: adrock67 | February 19, 2010 12:36 AM | Report abuse

Maybe he saw a Bible there too, where early Christians are clearly described as "holding all their goods in common." That's communism. If you want to avoid redistribution of wealth (the rich young man was told to give everything he owned to the poor)and decry the accumulation of personal wealth,DO NOT read the Bible. It's full of socialistic stuff.

Posted by: mullingitover | February 19, 2010 6:32 AM | Report abuse

I have read Marx and I did not become a communist. I have read Ayn Rand and I did not turn into a government-hating libertarian. I have read Alan Watts and did not become either a Buddhist or a homosexual. I read Finnegan's Wake without becoming either Irish or an alcoholic.

And so on.

I would expect every government official who deals with communist or socialist states to read the works that inspired both movements, and for any concerned with middle east or western pacific affairs to be familiar with the Koran. Mein Kampf is an example of how to mislead an aggrieved population, and I read it in that spirit, not because I wanted to deify Hitler.

Any concerned U.S. leader should read all of the above books and authors, plus many more, in order to understand America's enemies -- and friends.

Posted by: roblimo | February 19, 2010 7:00 AM | Report abuse

These books were acquired by the White House in 1963 -- making Michelle what? Maybe a toddler?

Folks need a life!

Posted by: chicago11 | February 19, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

The two books on Socialism have been in the WH library since 1963. Rob Port should have checked the facts before blogging, that is if facts matters to him. He now has on his blog this fact and wrote that he must have misunderstood the WH tour guide. Yeah, Right!

Posted by: mcdonalsherry | February 19, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

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