The Bush campaign has come out with a bad ad. It's on the Web. It's called "Kerry's Coalition of the Wild-Eyed." It runs a montage of various Democrats (plus Michael Moore) in full-blown rants, veins popping out of their necks, about George W. Bush. It also runs clips from an ad submitted to a contest at Moveon.org-the Web "movement" dedicated to helping the Democrats whenever and wherever possible.
The contest asked members and other sympathetic parties for anti-Bush ads. One of them featured comparisons of Bush to Hitler. The Bushies took clips of Hitler from that ad and spliced them in to the montage of Gephardt, Gore et al. Now, the Bush ad makes it clear where they got these images and states explicitly that they are objecting to the vile rhetoric from the left that often invokes Hitler analogies.
Still, the ad is bad because the subliminal message is that all the ranters are similar: Gephardt, Kerry, Gore, Hitler, Dean, Moore, and so on. In other words, the Bush campaign wants it both ways. They want to take the high road by condemning the hateful politics of their opponents, while at the same time they take the low road with a wink and a nod. I don't think the ad is evil or outrageous in the way that the folks at Moveon.org, the DNC and various liberal journalistic outlets do, but, yeah, they have a point. Using your enemies' transgressions as a Trojan Horse to do the same thing isn't worth the cost to your own credibility.
That said, it would be very nice indeed if all the liberals banging their spoons on their high chairs about the ad took a moment to reflect on what they've let slip by without much comment.
In 2000, while stumping for Al Gore, Bill Clinton declared that the Texas GOP platform "was so bad that you could get rid of every fascist tract in your library if you just had a copy."
During the Florida recount, Michael Moore wrote "There are tens of thousands of people who lived through [the Holocaust], escaped the ovens and are now living out their final years in South Florida. . I will not allow those who survived to . be abused again."
In the most recent Maryland Governor's race, a Democratic strategist told the Washington Post: "Bobby Ehrlich is a Nazi. . He should be running in Germany in 1942, not Maryland in 2002 . we'll define him as the Nazi that he is. Once we do that, I think people will vote for Kathleen Kennedy Townsend."
Jesse Jackson once told the editorial board of the Chicago Sun-Times: "The Christian Coalition was a strong force in [Nazi] Germany. It laid down a suitable, scientific, theological rationale for the tragedy in Germany. The Christian Coalition was very much in evidence there." He told British television: "In South Africa the status quo was called racism. We rebelled against it. In Germany it was called fascism. Now in Britain and the U.S., it is called conservatism." During the Florida recount, the man of "Hymietown" fame was concerned that Republicans were targeting survivors of the Holocaust "again."
"When I compare this to what happened in Germany," New York Rep. Charles Rangel observed during the debates over the Contract with America, "I hope that you will see the similarities to what is happening to us . . Hitler wasn't even talking about doing these things." And when Newt Gingrich tried to reach out to liberal Democrats by inviting them to social functions, New York Rep. Major Owens was outraged. "These are people who are practicing genocide with a smile; they're worse than Hitler," he said.
In his book "Earth in the Balance," Al Gore insisted that those who ignore global warming were akin to those who failed to pay heed to the "broken glass of Kristalnacht." More recently, the former vice president said Bush campaign workers who e-mail journalists are "digital brownshirts."
Meanwhile, a host of liberal and leftist intellectuals and journalists routinely compare Bush's America to Hitler's Germany in far more direct ways than the Bush ad. Last September, Vanity Fair ran a photo of Richard Perle alongside a photo of Josef Goebbels. Sheldin Wolin wrote in the Nation that the GOP was Nazifying before our eyes. And of course, one cannot swing a digital cat on the internet without finding pictures of George Bush in Nazi garb and Hitler's twee mustache.
I could go on for pages with this sort of thing (in part because I'm writing a book about fascism). For more than seven decades, the left has insisted that the more you disagree with them the more like a Nazi you are. Careers have been ruined because of this slander, public policy warped. So yes, by all means let's condemn facile Hitler comparisons on the right, too. But liberals can spare us their sudden outrage. It rings awfully hollow.