January 9, 2004

Move On, Already: Bush as Hitler Falls Flat
by Anthony Gancarski

Dave Lindorff, writing in CounterPunch, accuses the Republican National Committee of "play[ing] the Hitler card" with its recent denunciation of two amateur commercials, posted briefly on the MoveOn.Org website, that compared the sitting President to Adolf Hitler. Lindorff's position – predictably enough, in the hyperbolic realm CP occupies – is that the "shrill attacks" levied on the "remarkably successful populist internet-based organization" are solely due to the idea that "the Republican Party is more worried than it lets on about the upcoming November election," whatever that actually means.

Lindorff spares neither the RNC nor President Bush any invective whatsoever, nor does he resist the temptation to praise these "pretty darned good" histrionic, ahistorical film shorts. In the CounterPuncher's own words, one of the ads "shows Hitler in a parade and speaking, followed by scenes of German troops attacking, planes bombing, tanks firing, and victorious troops goose-stepping into occupied territory, as a voiceover says 'A nation warped by lies – lies fuel fear – fear fuels aggression – invasion – occupation.' As the scene fades from Hitler giving a raised arm salute to Bush with his hand raised at his inauguration, the voiceover says, 'What were war crimes in 1945 is foreign policy in 2003'."

Sieg heil, thank you, drive through, I guess. Seriously, what the hell is this all about? "War crimes in 1945?" Which ones? Where are these raised-arm salutes for the President, the goosestepping, et al.? "A nation warped by lies?" Which ones? How is this ad "pretty darned good?" It's reductionist bilge, every bit as dishonest in the service of the MoveOn.Org agenda as any flag-waving foolishness put forth by the RNC for its own purposes.

But that's OK. See, 9/11, in Lindorff's reckoning, was the equivalent of the Reichstag Fire, a mere pretext for the invasion of Iraq [Afghanistan goes unmentioned – it's SO 2002, after all]. Lindorff describes the "shock and awe" bombing campaign as a "war crime targeting the Iraqi public"; while that may be true, one of the central lessons of 1945 is that only winners of wars get to have war crime trials. So unless China ["drowning in dollars," sez the Bloomberg TV morning team] takes us on and wins, there likely will be no such trials that have anything but a cosmetic effect. And if China had such trials, they would be in Chinese anyway, so you wouldn't read much about them in the American press.

More from Lindorff: "As for the second controversial ad, it features first a picture of Hitler, speaking in German, with a voiceover translating the lines as 'We have taken new measures to protect our homeland. I believe I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator.' Then, as Hitler continues to speak, the voiceover says, 'God told me to strike Al-Qaeda, and I struck him.' As the picture morphs into George Bush, the voiceover continues, 'and then He instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did.' With a picture of cheering Germans in the background, the voiceover concludes, 'Sound familiar?'"

So Al-Qaeda is a "him," now? Does he work the falafel cart downtown or something? All kidding aside, what’s the point of featuring such rococo reductionism – however briefly – on a website purporting to be the voice of a genuine alternative to the current Administration? In the tradition of larger "news organizations," which occasionally float stories for a few hours only to retract them, or never mention them again, it seems that MoveOn.Org is not averse to floating a poison meme here and there when it serves its purposes.

To Lindorff, those two ads are "sadly prophetic," and could only be seen as likening Bush to Hitler by "the most simplistic or willfully unimaginative of viewers." Well, someone had better knock a few points off of my IQ, because the RNC is right-on in this instance. The amateur commercials take liberties with a larger, more complex situation to score points for Dean, Kucinich, or whichever scrub the website ends up endorsing. They put words in people's mouths which were never said. They are smears, character assassinations, and embarrassing to anyone who takes the time to think about what is actually said in them. They are not, as MoveOn.Org claimed in its contest submission guidelines, "the truth about President Bush." They are a sham [as MoveOn.Org recently admitted] and the professional left could do better.

~ Anthony Gancarski

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Anthony Gancarski, the author of Unfortunate Incidents, writes for The American Conservative, CounterPunch, and LewRockwell.com. His web journalism was recognized by Utne Reader Online as "Best of the Web." A writer for the local Folio Weekly, he lives in Jacksonville, Florida.

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