Posts Tagged ‘DeMint’

Hypocrisy on Hitler

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Remember five years back, when Moveon.org had a contest, inviting people to submit 30-second ads critical of the Bush administration? There were some 1,500 submissions — 2 of which compared Bush to Adolf Hitler.

Republican condemnation was swift and furious — and rightly so. The Republican National Committee called on all nine Democratic candidates to condemn the ads. RNC chair Ed Gillespie called the ads “the worst and most vile form of political hate speech.”

Jewish groups along with the mainstream media — from CNN to USA Today — added their voices to the powerful chorus of critique. Moveon quickly removed the offending ads from its web site.

Some, though, saw the incident as a condemnation not only of Moveon, but more broadly — as a black mark on Democrats or liberals in general. Here’s Chris Matthews on Hardball:

John Fund, how are the Democrats going to hide this sort of crazy lady in the attic now they’ve got, this Hitler ad?

Byron York, writing in the National Review on Jan. 7, 2004, had this to say:

Referring to President Bush as a Nazi, or comparing the president to Hitler, are nothing new in the world of MoveOn. They are, in fact, a common mode of expression of some of the people associated with the website and its brand of political activism.

Well, flashforward to today. In protests across the country, we see critics of Obama’s health care plan, comparing Obama to Hitler. (For a sampling of photo evidence, see “Jonah Goldberg Goes in Search of Swastikas,” from mediamatters.) Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina has compared America under Obama to Germany in the 1930s. Rush Limbaugh, with a 15 million listenership, has spoken about ”similarities between the Democrat Party of today and the Nazi Party in Germany.” He said the other day that “Obama’s got a health care logo that’s right out of Adolf Hitler’s playbook.”

Yesterday, the AP reported that a swastika was painted outside Rep. David Scott’s district office in Georgia.

Some Democrats, in response, have likened the protesters’ tactics to those of the Nazi army — which clearly oversteps the line. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dangerously oversimplified when she implied that protesters at these anti-health reform rallies are themselves identifying as Nazis.

But where is the storm of media outrage — about comparisons between Obama and Hitler — that greeted Moveon in 2004? Where is the swift and total Republican denunciation?

Glenn Grenwald, at Salon, has compiled a partial list of those who denounced Moveon in 2004 (the above examples are culled from his post), and has sent all of them emails, asking for their response to Limbaugh’s recent comments. Some of them — including the National Review — have responded , harshly criticizing Rush. But it registers as barely a peep — nothing like the firestorm that rained down on Moveon.

As Grenwald writes:

Compare (a) the way that a single anonymous person’s comparison of Bush and Hitler swamped our political discourse and forever altered the image of MoveOn with (b) what the (non)-reaction will be to the identical comparison coming from the leader of the Republican Party who spouts his hate-mongering to an audience of 15 million people.  Within that comparison one finds many central truths about how our political debates and media discussions function.

Columnist Michael Gerson gives us a good reminder  this week of why any comparison to Naziism — by Republicans or Democrats; Moveon or anyone else — should be roundly condemned:

Nazism was the ”beard game,” in which the beards and sidelocks of Jews were pulled off or set a fire before audiences of cheering soldiers. It was the practice of making elderly Jews dance around a fire of burning Torah scrolls. It was whole orphanages deported to death camps, and pits full of corpses, and ancient communities erased from human memory, and death factories issuing a thick smoke of souls, and a mother trading her gold ring for a glass of water to give her dying child.

Many who study these events think silence the only appropriate response. ”There is nothing,” says scholar Lawrence Langer, ”to be learned from a baby torn in two or a woman buried live.”

I was upset when, in Akron’s recent recall election, Democratic mayor Don Plusquellic compared his opponent to Hitler. Specious comparisons, Gerson writes, trivialize the Holocaust. He concludes:

For the survivors of Nazism, memory is a kind of sacred duty.

Trivializing the Holocaust: “desacralizes those memories — shrinking them to the size of our political agendas and robbing them of their power to shock and teach. The history of those times should be approached with fear and trembling, not mocked with metaphor.”

And, certainly, they should not be mocked with hypocrisy.

 

The Grinch Who Stole Cash for Clunkers?

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

Here in the heartland, we were greeted with headlines this morning, the likes of which we haven’t seen since aught seven.

“Clunkers’ restarts auto sales; some makers have best month,” trumpeted the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The Akron Beacon Journal announced: “July auto sales on the rise as program draws buyers.”

The federal “Cash for clunkers” program, as most people know, offers rebates of between $3,500 and $4,500 to people who trade in old cars for newer cars with higher fuel economy. The old cars have to get 18 miles per gallon or less. The rebate size depends on the fuel economy of the replacement car.

Congress initially appropriated $1 billion for the bill.

Funny thing happened on the way to the car dealership. People love this government program. It helps automakers (Ford last month posted its first sales increase since late 2007), car dealerships, and consumers — spurring the beleaguered economy, all while helping the environment. As the NY Times reports:

Dealers estimated that they moved a quarter-million cars with the rebate money. The Transportation Department reported that of 120,000 rebate applications processed so far, the average gas mileage of cars being bought was 28.3 miles per gallon, for SUV’s 21.9 miles per gallon, and for trucks, 16.3 miles per gallon, all significantly higher than required to get a rebate.

The House last week, with true bipartisan support, passed a bill to extend the program, authorizing another $2 billion worth of rebates.

Enter Senate Republicans.

Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky says cash for clunkers is an example of botched execution by the Obama administration. With people lining up to purchase new, environmentally friendlier cars from economically strapped dealers, Sen. John McCain is reportedly expected to lead a filibuster against the additional funds. Said Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina: “This is crazy to try to rush this thing through again while they’re trying to rush through health care. We’ve got to slow this thing down.” He called cash for clunkers an example of the “stupidity coming out of Washington right now.”

Actually — and this is what many Republicans simple cannot abide — it’s an example of a spectacularly popular government program that works.

Do they seriously mean to tell us with a straight face that because Congress underestimated the popularity of the program, it’s an example of government ineptitude? Would they say the same thing about Apple, which initially could not keep up with demand for iPod minis or Shuffles? Would they castigate Amazon.com, for initially failing to make enough Kindles? Would they hurl bromides about the stupidity coming out of Silicon Valley?

Republicans, having made the specious argument that this program’s popularity proves the government is too inept to manage health care, cannot now afford to let new funding go through. By their own logic, it would show that government can and does work for the people. And it would hand Obama a huge and visible victory as he makes the case this August that government can and will manage health care reform.

Yes, we know. More car rebates will add to the national debt. Just like all those war-time tax cuts Republican senators voted for during the Bush years.

Meanwhile, consumers line up in an ailing economy, hoping the Senate will come through, and they will be able to buy newer cars with better fuel economy.

You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch.