Well, the bloom appears to have fallen off the rose for Ron Bloom — special assistant to the president for manufacturing policy — and man who in the past has revealed a curious respect for communist leader Mao Tse-Tung. The former “car czar,” and architect of the auto bailout who once said the “free market is nonsense,” announced last Tuesday that he will be leaving the White House.
But buried in a story on Politico’s website about the departure is yet another seemingly veiled reference to Mao.
Bloom, who worked as an investment banker and then as a negotiator for the United Steelworkers union before entering a career in government, began his tenure with the Obama administration back in 2009 as an automotive senior adviser to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Still, what Bloom might best be known for is his past comments about Mao and communist China.
During a keynote speech in 2008 at the 6th Annual Distressed Investing Forum at the Union League Club, Bloom spoke about a union’s role in bankruptcy and restructuring, saying he “agreed” with Mao that “political power comes largely from the barrel of a gun.”
“Generally speaking, we get the joke,” Bloom started. “We know that the free market is nonsense. We know that the whole point is to game the system, to beat the market or at least find someone who will pay you a lot of money, ’cause they’re convinced that there is a free lunch.”
“We know this is largely about power, that it’s an adults only no limit game. We kind of agree with Mao that political power comes largely from the barrel of a gun. And we get it that if you want a friend you should get a dog.”
The Blaze’s Pam Key first brought us the video of Bloom’s eyebrow-raising keynote address:
Back then, those comments caught the attention of Glenn Beck, who took Bloom to task on a multitude of occasions for Bloom’s apparent disdain for the free market and his Mao-love. For example, he made Bloom’s remarks the topic of a segment on his TV show:
And during one of his radio programs in 2009, Beck wondered why no other journalist seemed to care or find Bloom’s background the least bit interesting:
“We have a guy who has now been appointed as the manufacturing czar and he doesn’t believe in the free market system? Oh, and he pretty much agrees with Mao that power comes from the end in the barrel of a gun. Do you? Do you believe that, that power comes from the barrel of a gun? Do you believe that? … If you are going to point a gun to my head, you do have a lot of power. But beyond in the.. totally evil sort of way, no, I don’t agree with that.”
But Beck wasn’t the only one. This past June, Congressman Connie Mack grilled Bloom at hearing held by the House of Representative’s Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending. During that hearing, Mach pressed Bloom about his role in the General Motors and Chrysler bailouts, asking a litany of tough questions regarding several of Bloom’s remarks in which he referred to union tactics as “gaming the system,” as well as for quoting Mao. Mack also asked Bloom if his union background should have disqualified him from heading the Obama initiatives:
Not surprisingly, Bloom denied any affection for chairman Mao, saying he only made the comment in jest.
That brings us to this month. In an article last week, Politico ended its story on Bloom’s resignation with a curious quote. In reference to Obama attempting to forge a partnership between manufacturers in several states and academia — in order to revitalize American factories — Bloom apparently saw something Mao-esque in the way government was attempting to support private business, stating the approach would, “let the great thousand flowers bloom in America.”
If that sounds familiar, it should.
While the correct wording is in fact a “hundred flowers,” there is no question as to where the phrase derives from. Back in the summer of 1957 in the People’s Republic of China, a movement emerged called the “Hundred Flowers Campaign,” during which the Communist Party allegedly encouraged those with diverse view points to step forward and share their ideas with a view to “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.”
Of course it was all a ploy, implemented to out as many free-thinkers and dissidents as the regime possibly could. Not surprisingly, Mao punished many who participated in the Hundred Flowers Movement until finally reimposing his oppressive policy on public expression.
So, if his past Mao comments were a joke, then why would Bloom make yet another reference to Mao, this time with regard to American manufacturing? Is he implying Mao’s Hundred Flowers campaign actually born out of good intentions? Did Bloom mean to say that the Obama administration was then letting “a hundred schools of thought contend” in a “policy for promoting progress” in American factories? That very well could be the case. Or perhaps, Bloom made the comment as a dig to all of those, like Beck and Mack, who have called the former union worker out on his ideological leanings.
So many questions.
Either way, it remains unclear where Bloom may be headed next. A good guess? Perhaps he will take a consulting job at a manufacturing plant in China.
(H/T: Blaze reader Luke S. in Vancouver, BC)