I'm Adolf Hitler and I Approve of This Ad

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Remember back when politics, no matter how partisan, was still done with taste and decorum? You know, like when MoveOn.org sponsored its amateur anti-Bush ad hour and generated a couple of spots that compared Bush to Adolf Hitler.

Now the Bush braintrust has returned the favor to the Dems, sending out a "Coalition of the Wild-Eyed" ad via the Internet that links John Kerry, Michael Moore, Al Gore, Dick Gephardt, and Gov. Hoo-aah Dean with the genocidal corporal whom Mad magazine once dubbed "a professional mischief maker" in a poorly done All In the Family parody (titled "Gall in the Family Fare," the bit included a record insert in the mag and a plot line in which "Dolf Baby" turned out to be Archie's long-lost WW2 buddy; ah, what was possible in the U.S. before Greatest Generation political correctness took root).

Reports USA Today:

"The use of Adolf Hitler by any campaign, politician or party is simply wrong," said Kerry's campaign manager, Mary Beth Cahill, who called on the GOP campaign to remove the Web video from its site.

"We're using the video from MoveOn.org to show our supporters the type of vitriolic rhetoric being used by the president's opponents and John Kerry's surrogates," said Scott Stanzel, a spokesman for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign.

Whole story here.

View the spot, which is a little too unironically reminiscent of the famous montage sequence in The Parallax View for my tastes, by going here and clicking on "Pessimism." The uplift music that comes on toward the end is pretty creepy, in a fun sort of way.

Who's covering the action on when Ralph Nader or Michael Badnarik drops the H-bomb?

Update: Apparently just to keep the whole Hitlerian subtext going, columnist John Leo has written a piece titled "Comparing Bush to Hitler no longer confined to loonies." Or even Hitler, as Bush has been compared to Mussolini as well. It's a pretty fun catalog of the Nazis and junior varsity Nazis to which Bush has been compared. Wake me when one of the candidates accuses the other of being worse than DeGaulle. Now that's hitting below the belt.

NEXT: Class is Back in Session

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  1. Wow, first thread I've seen where the HEADLINE breaks Godwin's law. Way to go guys . . .

  2. Just watched the Bush ad, and it doesn't compare anyone to Hilter. It takes the moveon.org ad and places it among clips of the various Democrat "leaders." A fair veiwing of the ad supports Stanzel's statement that the ad shows "the type of vitriolic rhetorice being used by the president's opponents and John Kerry's surrogates."

    It seems to me that Cahill is biting the hand that fed the Democrats with some needed cash and back channel support...moveon.org.

  3. MALAK,

    Seeing as Mike Godwin is a contributing editor to Reason, we feel comfortable--nay, obligated--to break his law from time to time.

  4. how do we know kerry and his wife didn't submit the hitler ads to moveon?

  5. I don't hold any truck with threats, Joe, but comments and insults are OK....I think that the Left just can't handle its own tactics being deployed against it. They or YOU don't own the air waves any more, "ruckus" and "act up" can operate both ways. And I don't thinkk that the Left likes that...
    Now you want civility, I'm for it... you get rid of the BushHitler signs and DoS attacks that have occurred against some Conservatives and I'll do my part to denounce and to stop Rightwing invective.

  6. The brownshirts were the streetbrawlers, organized by the party to disrupt other parties' events and establish public areas as their turf. They did not act independently, but volunteered to be organized to go out and fight at specific locations and times.

    Oh, like a flashmob! 😉

    No, seriously, the brownshirts were these guys:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturmabteilung
    They were party troops, organized by Hitler himself at their beginning. Calling someone an S.A. is one step from full Godwinization. A warning to those that know history is that when Adolf thought he needed to stifle them, he had their leadership killed. Gore just continues to marginalize himself by talking like this. And who knows more about marginalizing oneself than us libertoids? 🙂

    Kevin

  7. It probably should be noted that in the 1990s comparing Clinton to Hitler by "conservatives" was also popular. I don't recall Bob Dole or anyone else distancing himself from supporters who made those sorts of comments. Anyway, its just one of those tropes that is bi-partisan in nature.

  8. BTW, I simply do not get the fawning attitude some have about political parties - I mean sociologically I get it - but not personally. I sit here and laugh about the reactions of both Bush and Kerry partisans and it just mystifies me how they can get so worked up over two politicians and their respective parties.

  9. I rather like incivility, Joe L. My concern is with Freeperati who, for example, repeatedly cut and paste entire dotoral dissertations into the comment boxes of liberal blogs. They're not arguing their side, even poorly and offensively. They're acting like brownshirts - digital brownshirts.

  10. "It probably should be noted that in the 1990s comparing Clinton to Hitler by "conservatives" was also popular. I don't recall Bob Dole or anyone else distancing himself from supporters who made those sorts of comments."
    No Gary we compared him to Nixon, not Hitler.... and I don't remember Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, or the head of the RNC attending the premiere of "The Clinton Chronicles." However, I do seem to recall a whole passle of mainstream Democrats attending the opening of Leni Reifenstahl's Fahrenheit 9/11, oh I mean Michael Moore's F9/11.

  11. I don't think Gore was referring to the Freepers, of whom there are few. I'm reasonably certain he was referring to the Tim Blairs, Glenn Reynoldses, Pejman Yousefadehs (sp?) and all the rest of the righty blogosphere, who are quite happy to call "bullshit"" on the NY Times. Either that, or the thugs he compared to the Jew-killing Sturmabteilung are Fox news.

    And as for the reasonableness of the Dem politicos, versus the MoveOn.org crowd, I just don't buy it. I think the venom has infested the party leadership and organizers generally. I live in D.C. and was having drinks at a Capitol Hill watering hole Monday night. About 20 dem hill staffers wandered in, and started boozing and ranting amongst themselves about the eeeeeeeeeeee-vil conservatives, and how they basically just think that anyone who disagrees with them ought to be shot or at least jailed. (Evidently, they didn't read Scalia's dissent in Hamdi - but nevermind). The conversation moved on (ahem) that way for about 20 minutes, and when I really couldn't stomach any more ranting at the next table over, I left with my friends.

    In the last year, I've lost a good handful of friends, who insist on giving me huge rations of shit about being an "out" libertarian/conservative. By huge rations of shit, I'm referring to daily emails with the latest Indymedia agit props, degenerating into personal attacks along the lines of "you and your friends have destroyed this country, etc."

    Granted, the effect of the Dem mental disintegration is magnified inside the Beltway. They stew and stew about things, and really whip themselves into a frenzy. But I can't write it off as just isolated cases; it's a mental infection that seems to be spreading. Nominally politically oriented Dems (such as a couple professional associates of mine) have started thinking and talking like MoveOn organizers.

    I have serious concerns about where this will end if Bush manages to win in November. Oh well, I guess if you like incivility, Joe, you may get some chances to see what real true incivility looks like. Or as Katrina Van Den Heuvel described incivility when the anti-capitalist anti-globalists rioted, ?full throated dissent.? I just hope none of the dissent hits you in the head or catches your shop or your self on fire. That style of dissent can leave a mark.

  12. Joe L.,

    "No Gary we compared him to Nixon..."

    No, anti-Clintonites compared him to Hitler. Indeed, I can remember distinctly seeing bumper stickers along I-85 (between Auburn and Atlanta) with statements or pictures comparing Clinton to Hitler.

    Stepen Fetchet,

    I don't view your statements as having any particularity to Democrats - I've witnessed my fair share of Republicans nearly explode or otherwise call for the heads of their opponents. And the disease that you speak of is called "True Believerism" - and no political ideology is immune from it (obligatory reference to Eric Hoffer's "The True Believer" inserted here).

  13. Joe L.,

    Also, if you would like to see one of these bumper stickers for yourself, you can go to a restaurant named Chelsea Street Station in South Royalton, Vermont - they have one displayed prominently on their fridge. They close daily at 3 pm, so don't expect supper.

  14. There's plenty of hypocrisy to go around, and that's what makes it so fun and infuriating, isn't it?

    In addition to these you've got Andrew Sullivan pumping up Lileks bleat about deciding to ignore someone when they make the nazi reference (to gore's brownshirts comment) and then a couple days later goes on to compare Michael Moore to the Nazi queen Leni Revinstahl (sp way off).

    We all do it, but it's usually the signal that you've run out of debating material.

  15. richard's got it right,

    does REASON parrot the dem line ("Now the Bush braintrust . . . links John Kerry, Michael Moore, Al Gore, Dick Gephardt, and Gov. Hoo-aah Dean with the genocidal corporal") out of partisanship or because you didn't watch the ad which clearly reiterates the bush campaign's earlier expressed outrage at having its candidate compared to hitler?

    until recently, REASON isn't the place i'd have looked for examples of editorial content having been shaped by clintonian spinmeistering

    i know that responsible libertarians abandoned "the Party" in the last election in favor of the GOP, leaving it to the devices of drug-addled, knee-jerk anti-authoritarians who finally rejected the stodgy dems, but some of us still harbor some nostalgia for your rag

  16. Richard, Slate points out that, in previous ads, when Republicans wanted to show a Democratic ad in order to discredit it, they showed a shot of a television showing in the ad. In other words, there were clear visual cues for the viewer to understand that the material was not to be viewed as a message to him, but was being "quoted." In this case, the Nazi/Democrat montage is full screen.

    And what do Dick Gephardt, Howard Dean, and John Kerry have to do with an ad that was submitted to, and denounced by, Moveon.org anyway? This is the latest Daschle-morphing-into-Osama ad.

  17. Eponymous,

    As befits a libertarian magazine, Reason staffers speak for themselves. And if you spent any time reading this rag (whether online or in the print edition), you'd recognize that we are every bit as critical of the Dems as of the GOP. Indeed, the post that started this thread includes a link to a John Leo column cataloging a bunch of ridiculous Bushitler comparisons).

    You'll note that I wrote that the Bush ad--which unlike the MoveOn.org ads, btw, is an official campaign communication--links Kerry et al. with Hitler, which it certainly does through the miracle of juxtaposition; what's more it clearly suggests that John Kerry's and Dem "pessimism" (and resultant anger) somehow channels the sort of frustration that helped Hitler rise to power.

    But if you really don't think that the Bush ad deserves any sort of critical (or comic) analysis--or that such analysis can only be done in the service of the Democrats--more power to you.

  18. So what does Godwin's law have to say when there is a legitimate point to be made involving a comparison to Nazis? Or are Nazis really the complete exception to everything in history? Seriously, someone or something somewhere has to be like Hitler.

  19. I, for one, was delighted to read Nick Gillespie's backhanded dig at the WWII generation. Apparently, we Baby Boomers are not the only generation that seems to merit his disdain.

  20. Don't you know -- Al Gore said that anybody questioning the Bush=Hitler comparisons in an online forum, is part of the "Republican Brownshirts." That's right. You are all a pack of cyber-nazis, who are evidently worse than soup nazis, but probably still superior to most surf nazis and definitely better than non-smoking, vegan health nazis.

    Since you are all digital brownshirts, I presume that Instapundit, who leads the questioning and ridiculing of the Bush=Hitler comparisons, is your Ernst Roehm.

    As for me, I'm merely a grammar nazi. Perhaps Bush = Hitler, but to my mind, Strunk = Werner von Braun.

  21. 'Don't you know -- Al Gore said that anybody questioning the Bush=Hitler comparisons in an online forum, is part of the "Republican Brownshirts."'

    My God, Captain, the readings on this bullshit detector are through the roof!

    Show me where he said this, or stfu.

  22. First, I think it's proof that Liberals/Leftists can dish it out, but can't take it.

    Secondly, I think it's a good idea. Kerry gets all the benefits of "Bush=Hitler" but can claim it's Moveon.org, not him. So let's tie him to it. NOW, he has to take the blame or disavow Moveon.org and mayhap AlGore, too. But can he afford to? Bottom-line: Kerry's been getting away scot free and now he isn't. Too bad. You don't like Hitler in your politics, don't bring him up in the first place....

  23. First, I think it's proof that Liberals/Leftists can dish it out, but can't take it.

    Secondly, I think it's a good idea. Kerry gets all the benefits of "Bush=Hitler" but can claim it's Moveon.org, not him. So let's tie him to it. NOW, he has to take the blame or disavow Moveon.org and mayhap AlGore, too. But can he afford to? Bottom-line: Kerry's been getting away scot free and now he isn't. Too bad. You don't like Hitler in your politics, don't bring him up in the first place....

  24. joe: joke. swdystfu?

  25. Joe L.,

    John Kerry is not Moveon. Moveon is not the guy who made the ad, which they specifically denounced and removed from their site. You'd need Kevin Bacon to tie this ad to John Kerry.

  26. And Joe, FYI:

    Gore did indeed say that Republicans and conservatives (always leaves the libertarians out, doesn?t he?) who respond on the web to Dem criticism, especially those who criticize left-leaning media coverage of the war and politics are ?digital brownshirts.?

    It?s reported on Reuters here: http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=politicsNews&storyID=5508247

    Gore is praised by the Seattle Times for calling web-critics brownshirts here:
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2001964896_gore25.html

    Lileks explains why it is a disgusting comparison here: http://www.lileks.com/bleats/archive/04/0604/062504.html

    So prove to me Gore didn't say this, or, in your quaint terms, shut the fuck up.

  27. Kerry gets all the benefits of "Bush=Hitler" but can claim it's Moveon.org, not him.

    Except it's not even MoveOn.org. It's two independent entries to a competition MoveOn sponsored, which did very poorly in the competition and which MoveOn quickly disavowed and removed from its site.

  28. Kerry's been getting away scot free and now he isn't. Too bad. You don't like Hitler in your politics, don't bring him up in the first place....

    I'm confused... how is Kerry responsible for anything moveon.org does, or more to the point, moveon's readers (since moveon explicitly disavowed the video in question)? I'm sure it wouldn't be very difficult for Kerry to dredge up some examples of support for Bush from some less-than-tasteful groups and use them in an attack ad against Bush -- but who would be so tasteless to do so???

  29. And all the Bush=Hitler signs, and BusHitler signs, nice try... basically many of the people who want to unseat Bush, have been saying it. And they have by-and-large been supporting Kerry. Bottom-line: Kerry benefits from these people's support.

    Now, we (I am a Republican) call him on it... he squirms and they complain. It's simple, all Kerry has to do is say, "If you think Bush=Hitler, you're wrong and I don't want your vote. AlGore, you're wrong and shut up." And this is one way to start calling the "Mainstream" Democrats that want all the goodies of associating with Michael Moore and Moveon.org, but none of the downside.

    So I think its great. I think it is like when the Democrats complained about Bush's use of 9-11 photo's in his ad. Sure they didn't like it, because they came off badly in comparison to the Administration. And lastly, this reminds me of the "Rats" tempest, from the 2000 campaign. I see a whole heck of a lot of scrutiny of Bush ads and discussions of their propriety but I sure don't hear nearly the catwauling about other ads, these parts about.

  30. Read the links. Gore did not 'say that Republicans and conservatives (always leaves the libertarians out, doesn?t he?) who respond on the web to Dem criticism, especially those who criticize left-leaning media coverage of the war and politics are ?digital brownshirts.?'

    He referred to a specific cadre of activists working in tandem with the administration (maybe that's why libertarians get left out?) as "digital brownshirts."

    The brownshirts were the streetbrawlers, organized by the party to disrupt other parties' events and establish public areas as their turf. They did not act independently, but volunteered to be organized to go out and fight at specific locations and times. They uses numbers, intimidation, and crowding of the space to prevent their opponents from getting thier message across, to intimidate likeminded people from engaging in political activity - all of which equally describe the tactics Gore was referring to. This was not, as you describe it, a conflation of individuals who express Republican ideas with Nazis, but a spot on analysis of the tactics being employed.

    Now, a comparison to the SS or Gestapo (that fave of the anti-environment right) would have been out of line. But nowhere in Gore's remarks are Republicans compared to Nazis, or Bush to Hitler.

  31. John Kerry is not Moveon. Moveon is not the guy who made the ad, which they specifically denounced and removed from their site. You'd need Kevin Bacon to tie this ad to John Kerry.

    There are several links between MoveOn and Kerry here.

    There were 15 finalists for MoveOn's 'best video' competition. However, they were numbered 1 to 17, with two unassigned numbers. It made me wonder.

  32. Yeah, to call Bush supporters "Brownshirts" is NOT out-of-line, but Gestapo or SS is? Yes, now I see it...

    Actually in this context I'd put Moveon.org and ACT as the Brownshirts, Joe..."They did not act independently, but volunteered to be organized to go out and fight at specific locations and times."-They act ont he behalf of Kerry with plausible deniability.

  33. Add another log to the fire: "We're organized and we're ready to fight this Gestapo-style movement..." Spoken by a UFW representative who was protesting against the recent immigration sweeps in SoCal. And, remember, the (putatively Republican-controlled) DHS has caved into these people.

    And, that's tame compared to what some Republicans and most Democrats say about anyone or any attempt to reform immigration.

  34. "Yeah, to call Bush supporters "Brownshirts" is NOT out-of-line, but Gestapo or SS is? Yes, now I see it..."

    If you don't get the difference, perhaps you should read more widely.

    Had the brownshirts limited their efforts to holding banners and handing out handbills, rather than beating unconscious people who engaged in those activities, your comparison with Moveon and ACT might have some merit. I don't recall Moveon directing its cadres to flood opposition message boards with insults and threats.

  35. hanks, Nick. And to think that, just recently, I was lamenting the "fun-quotient" in topic headlines. Oh well, at least somebody's listening, er . . . reading.

  36. What I know is that a totalitarian is a totalitarian. It doesn't mater what the rhetoric he or she uses to justify the totalitarianism is supposedly based on - the result is the same.

    What I also know is that leftists genereicaly want government to be much larger and more controlling than rightists do - especially in the arena of economic choices and freedom, which, as I said before, has the most REAL WORLD impact on people's lives.

  37. "What I know is that a totalitarian is a totalitarian. It doesn't mater what the rhetoric he or she uses to justify the totalitarianism is supposedly based on - the result is the same."

    Good. Hold that thought, because the danger of your previous statements is that you might not recognize the threat from a rightist totalitarian-wanna-be, because you assume he couldn't be a totalitarian because he's a righty.

    "...especially in the arena of economic choices and freedom..." Your use of the word freedom here is meaningless. Lefties want to criminalize sex acts? Lefties want to hold people accused of terrorist links without a hearing? I will take 100,000 people paying an extra ten bucks in taxes over one human being thrown in a hole in secret any day of the week, "most people's lives" be damned.

  38. Gil,

    1. Americans are more familiar with Nazis than Bolsheviks or Maoists, because Americans died fighting them (and, hence, lots of movies got made).

    2. Leftists make the Nazi comparison in regards to their ideological opponents, rightists. It doesn't really make sense to compare a proponent of racism, sexism, nationalism, and anti-leftism to a communist, now does it?

  39. You are aware that "totalitarian" is not a synonymn for "leftist," right?

  40. I'd take banning gay marrraiges, etc. and the govt throwing some camel-jockey types in the slammer indefinitly any day over the lefty version of excessive govt power we've got today - I'd be a lot richer!

    I-Got-Mineism in a nutshell.

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