Tuesday, August 19, 2003
"It's going a bit far to compare the Bush of 2003 to the Hitler of 1933," writes a judicious Dave Lindorff in "Bush and Hitler: The Strategy of Fear" on the left-wing Web site Counterpunch.org. "Bush simply is not the orator that Hitler was. But comparisons of the Bush administration's fear-mongering tactics to those practiced so successfully and with such terrible results by Hitler and Goebbels ... are not at all out of line." Lindorff, a contributor to The Nation magazine and Salon.com, maintains that Hitler "would be proud that an American president is emulating him in so many ways."
Understand that the comparisons between Bush and Hitler have become a staple of leftist opinion these days. I recall the rather excellent television miniseries on the life of the Young Hitler that was released early in the summer. The director attempted to make a connection between Bush and Hitler by altering certain historical dialogue surrounding the negotiations with von Hindenburg for the Chancellor's office and the Reichstag Fire. Naturally, in their role as vanguard of the proletariat, these "liberals in a hurry" are often the mine canaries for what the larger group of liberal chatterers will be peddling to the Democratic Party's rank and file in the following year.
The Bush/Hitler comparisons have great resonance among Democratic Party activists, especially the Outer Party crowd that populates various left wing websites. These are the True Believers; today's members of "Refuse and Resist" who are tomorrow's DNC staffers, campaign workers, and legal outriders. Lowry gives several examples of the kind of malicious hate that meanders down the river of Democratic politics. Of course, the Hitler charge is a canard, and is reflective of the form of opportunistic demagoguery that has taken hold of the Left these days.
Take the case of Lindorff above. The very fact that President Bush has chosen to maintain the country in a state of medium readiness betrays a judicious understanding of the threat and the need to act to defend against that threat. In addition, this President has chosen a strategy of holding the enemy by the belt, going at them in their home territories and fighting them there. Now then, it just so happens that when one alerts people to possible terrorist attack, they are much more on guard. There is an undercurrent of fear when one prepares for attack by Jihadi. There is a sense of anxiety at the news of major military operations overseas. However, if Lowry is correct, Lindorff merely makes a comparison to the Adolf and Goebbels, as if the assertion that fear and anxiety exist
must prove the proposition that Bush is deliberately stoking fear to maintain state control.
In this case, the President can't win. Bush can make prudent preparations to warn citizens against incoming attack or the Patriot Act can be passed to make penetration of terrorist cels easier, but such actions bring with them public anxiety.
The President can reason that it is best to remove a Saddam Hussein before the latter has a chance to get back into the WMD business. In so doing, however, Bush had to attack first to remove the threat before it had a chance to grow. He and his advisers believe he is doing the right thing for the country.
Now it just so happens that a byproduct of these actions, public anxiety, plays to the strengths of the Republican Party. In poll after poll, Americans trust the Republican Party to handle matters of national security much more than they do the Democratic Party. It was not always thus: at one time, when Barry Goldwater and John F. Kennedy walked the earth, both parties competed to be the Party of National Security. As often as not, as in 1960, the Democrats would win. Then, of course, Vietnam happened, and the core leadership of the Democratic Party was destroyed in both reputation and effectiveness. By the Seventies, the Democrats had become an accomodationist party.
The fact that Republicans benefit politically from a concentration on national security frustrates the Left. In the mind of the average Lefty, Bush is using "the War on Terror" to intimidate opponents and steal other people's oil. It is not too far a stretch from that assumption for Leftists to start concluding that the war against Islamic Fascism is bogus, a superstructure designed to hide the greed of the plutocracy behind a constant mobilization for war. Thus, Bush opens himself up to the charge of fear-mongering (whatever that is) from the Left. Naturally, the totemic boogieman in the historical Universe is Hitler; it becomes compelling for a polemicist such as Lindorff to instinctively make the comparison between the two.
I mean, no one is going to compare Bush to Leopoldo Galtieri of Argentina or the late, great Genereal Hugo Banzer of Paraguay, now are they? Small time Latin American caudillos just don't provide the same oomph to the polemic that the Austrian Paper Hanger does.
What is most important to note is not what Lindorff, et.al., have to say about George W. Bush. Rather, the tone of their articles reveals what is at the core of the Left in particular, and the Democratic Party in general: fear. Understand that Bush and his Administration have taken actions at home and overseas to protect the United States. Further, these actions are reasonably prudent in time of war and compare favorably to the actions of, say, Franklin D. Roosevelt, that great liberal statesman who threw 100,000 Japanese-Americans into gaol simply because they were Japanese-Americans. Virtually the entire Left and much of the liberal voting bloc in this country have turned against the War on Terror, rationalizing that the actions taken by the Administration were either illegal or motivated by lies. They do this because they have lost the will to prosecute the war, and they despise the President who is waging that war. At long last, after all the comparisons to Hitler and National Socialism have been made, we are left with a political party that is afraid. Fear of the unknown, and fear of this President's popularity, motivates these people to that one emotion.
The Left has given in to fear. The polemics and the rationalizations are simple cover for that fact. In a great struggle against a fascist enemy, they have lost their nerve.