Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman quoted Communist dictator Mao Zedong in a sprawling criticism of Rep. Michele Bachman (R- MN), a rival for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
“You know, campaigns are about letting a thousand flowers blossom — bloom,” Huntsman told New York magazine’s John Heilmann. “So everybody gets to speak their mind and approach it from whatever angle of attack, and she’s chosen her own angle of attack. I don’t think it’s saleable in the end. It will certainly light up and ignite a corner of the Republican party, but not enough to do what needs to be done to win the nomination. But that’s an extension of her right to free speech.”
A thousand flowers bloom? Everybody gets to speak their mind? Does the former Ambassador to China understand the reference he’s making?
In 1957, Chairman Moa uttered almost the exact same words. “Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land.”
Mao’s Hundred Flowers Campaign encouraged Chinese to speak out, to express their points of view. And after they did, he had them executed. The maneuver is widely understood by historians as a deliberate attempt by Mao to flush out dissidents to make it easier to identify and kill them.
This isn’t the first time Huntsman has quoted the legendary Communist super villain. He made a similar utterance in May 2009: