We’ve been following the tenure of National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman Jim Leach as he has undertaken a series of speeches seeking to spread the gospel according to Barack Obama. Shortly after his installation as chairman Leach undertook a 50-state tour preaching the gospel. The tour is in progress and the song remains the same. It is really quite disgusting.
I have adapted my previously posted comments on Leach’s speeches into a six-part daily series. If all goes according to plan, the series will start tomorrow and run through Saturday.
In preparing the series I have had in mind the witty books that followed on the Little Red Book of Quotations from Chairman Mao. Among these books are Quotations from Chairman LBJ, Quotations from Mayor Daley, and Quotations from Chairman Bill. Each of these books is in its own way entertaining and instructive. Although the series includes my own commentary on selected quotations from Leach, and not just the quotations themselves, my intent in the series is similar to that of the books.
If the length of this series is justified, it is justified by the perils that Leach embodies. I mean the perils of mission creep and of creepy mission. Leach gives us a prime example of the purely partisan and illegitimate uses to which the theme of “civility” can be put.
Running a previously respected and relatively uncontroversial agency on approximately $160 million a year, Leach should be the subject of serious congressional attention. He has so far escaped such attention. One can only hope that congressmen looking for places to cut the federal budget will attend to Leach’s continuing missionary work for Obama and start swinging the budget axe in his vicinity. (Or is that metaphor taboo?)
I originally wrote the series as an article intended for the New Criterion, but as it grew in length it outgrew the confines of a magazine article. I want to acknowledge the generous help of TNC co-editor Roger Kimball in editing the series down to its present length.
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