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Saturday, June 25, 2005

Not the name of a movie starring Matt Damon

This has been a month of arguing about analogies and particularly over the use of the word "Nazi" in making analogies. Eleven days ago it was Dick Durbin. Not that long before it was Rick Santorum comparing Democratic filibusters to something Adolph Hitler might have done or said. Both apologized. But there have been others. Nazi Germany, Adolph Hitler, Soviet Gulags and the like, have been used as being analogous to some statement or some position of more than one political opponent. Sometimes the comments go virtually unnoticed. At other times there is an organized outpouring of outrage that makes enough noise to persuade the print and broadcast media to treat them as a news story.

And sometimes there isn’t enough outrage. And sometimes, when presented with a real story about an analogy that is so far beyond the pale as to be damaging to this Republic, the media fall down on the job. It has certainly happened with the words of chief Republican attack dog Karl Rove. Where are the editorials about his remarks about people who didn’t vote for George W Bush giving deliberate aid and comfort to our enemies?

I think I’ve made this analogy before, most likely when I’ve made a comment about the ranting and raving of Rush Limbaugh, but certainly no one has illustrated it more or better than Karl Rove. Without mentioning Nazis or Adolph Hitler, he nonetheless gave us a demonstration of one of the most effective tools of the Third Reich, when he said ;
Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war. Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers
And in the same speech, bringing up Dick Durbin’s remarks about Guantanamo (of course), he said;
Has there ever been a more revealing moment this year? Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives (emphasis added) of liberals
Go back to the thirties and forties and dig out the speeches of Joseph Goebbels or Julius Streicher or any other Nazi propagandists and see how well the words of Karl Rove would have resonated with the simple substitution of "Jew" for "Liberal." The technique is classic and its aim exactly the same as it was seventy years ago. Demonize a group. Blame all the ills of the nation on that group. Attack any criticism of your mistakes and mismanagement and lying by that group and accuse them and their criticisms of being the real problem that is sucking the life blood out of the nation.

I emphasized the word "motives" because here we have an unequivocal allegation that the motive of "liberals" - and make no mistake, to Rove and his ilk, that word encompasses the millions of Americans who did not vote for Bush and who think he is doing a lousy job - is to give aid and comfort to the enemy. Read the entire comment about Dick Durbin. Can there be any doubt about what this latter day (pardon the analogy) Goebbels is saying?

But that’s not the worst of it. The White House is defending his words. Which means that the President of the United States is perfectly happy with the idea of calling Democrats something pretty close to traitors. I’ve lived through a whole mess of Presidents and their supporters and spokespeople, but I can’t remember anything like this going on - not even during the Nixon years.

On the PBS News Hour last night, National Review Editor Rich Lowry offered a feeble defense of Rove’s remarks, citing MoveOn.org and Michael Moore as possible sources of anti-war comments to which Rove may have been referring. It was truly sad to watch and listen to this bright young man prostitute himself on the altar of partisan loyalty. He knows- as any observer of the contemporary American political scene knows - the Rove approach of slash and burn and that there is no room for truth if it gets in the way of a political goal.

One final thought on this sorry affair. Before September 11, 2001, we had a President who was drifting along in undistinguished fashion. He and his cabinet and his advisors had been alerted to the dangers of possible terrorist attacks and had ignored them - Condoleezza Rice’s disingenuous protests to the contrary notwithstanding - yet when an attack occurred on his watch, he quickly declared himself to be a "wartime President" and one uniquely competent to lead the nation in "war." Little did we know that the war he planned to "lead" us in was against Iraq and it was that "war" that occupied his thinking as terrorists infiltrated and struck at the United States. Yet again and again he has evoked that image of being a "wartime President" to his political advantage, asserting that his political opponents aren’t capable or don’t have the heart to wage the "war on terrorism."

On September 11, 2001, this nation came together as one and rose up in anguish and in anger against the sub-humanoids who had committed a monstrous crime against us. If there was a man or woman who didn’t want to lash out - to crush the nation or the organization that was behind the attack, I don’t know who they were. Yet here we are, close to four years later, bogged down in our occupation of Iraq, with our troops and Iraqis being attacked and killed by terrorists on a daily basis and with Osama Bin Laden and his lieutenants still at large - and the wartime President’s political strategist is using the events of that day to mount a political attack against Democrats - no doubt to take the heat off his boss as his poll numbers go down and public support for his war drops precipitously.

Some Democrats have called upon Rove to apologize. A waste of time. This character will never apologize for any piece of dirty political strategy that he dreams up. What they should do is keep him on the front burner that he usually avoids when creating one of his baskets of dirty tricks and publicize every vilifying attack he makes on Democrats along with the appropriate analogy from the demagogues of the past - from the speeches of Goebbels to those of McCarthy - and trust me, the appropriate speeches are there to show just what Karl Rove’s political heritage is - and by reflection, what kind of government we have running this country in June, 2005.