GOP political tactics and media inanity in a nutshell

What will get more attention: a Hitler reference from an anonymous individual or the leader of the GOP?

Topics: MoveOn.org, Washington, D.C.,

(updated below – Update II – Update II)

Rush Limbaugh today, speaking to his audience of 15 million, compares Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler and Nancy Pelosi to Nazi leaders (h/t Atrios):

Fox News, January 6, 2004:

What MoveOn.org wanted was for people to submit 30-second ads that were critical of President Bush, but what the liberal-leaning organization got was a controversy over one entry that compared Bush to Adolf Hitler. . . .

Republican groups and Jewish organizations expressed outrage over the ad, which has been removed from the MoveOn.org Web site. The Republican National Committee called on all nine Democratic candidates to condemn the ads.

RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie called the ad, “the worst and most vile form of political hate speech.”

MoveOn.org is “using the memory of that genocide as a political prop,” American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen wrote in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, referring to the Holocaust.

“President Bush has shown us leadership in Iraq, and our troops have liberated a people who were oppressed by another murderous dictator … comparing the commander-in-chief of a democratic nation to the murderous tyrant Hitler is not only historically specious, it is morally outrageous,” Rosen continued.

Anti-Defamation League Press Release, January, 2004:

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today said it was deeply troubled that MoveOn.org had allowed an outrageous and highly offensive political ad that directly compared President George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler to be posted on its Web site.



Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director and author of “Never Again: The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism,” issued the following statement:

“It is shocking that a mainstream political group like MoveOn.org not only allowed this vile and outrageous comparison of the American President to Adolf Hitler to be entered into its “Bush in 30 Seconds” contest in the first place, but that they even went so far as to make it available to the public on the Internet. Those responsible for this contest at MoveOn.org should have immediately identified this advertisement as one going far beyond legitimate criticism and rejected it out of hand. Instead, they made an irresponsible decision that has given legitimacy to the exploitative manipulation of images in a campaign season.

New York Times, January 6, 2004:

Critics Attack Efforts to Link Bush and Hitler

Two of more than 1,500 submissions have outraged Republicans and leading Jewish groups for comparing Mr. Bush, in profile and policy, to Hitler.

“This is the worst and most vile form of political hate speech,” Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said in one of several statements he issued. He urged the nine Democrats running for president to repudiate the advertisements. . . .

Mr. Gillespie and Jewish groups like the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center criticized MoveOn.org for posting advertisements that showed Hitler morphing into Mr. Bush. One asserted, “What were war crimes in 1945 is foreign policy in 2003.”

“Their lack of discretion cheapens the level of political discourse in America.” said Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League.

Byron York, National Review, January 7, 2004:

Of Course They Think Bush Is a Nazi

MoveOn ads are no aberration.

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.

USA Today, January 6, 2004:

Ask liberals and leftists to participate in an advertising contest dubbed “Bush in 30 Seconds,” and you’ll get more than a few negative entries. . . .

“It is shocking that a mainstream political group like MoveOn.org not only allowed this vile and outrageous comparison of the American President to Adolf Hitler to be entered into its … contest in the first place, but that they even went so far as to make it available to the public on the Internet,” said Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League.

Tammy Bruce, January 6, 2004:

The Leftist extremists now in charge of the Democratic Party are either so desperate or delusional they are now comparing this nation to Hitler’s Third Reich and the president to Hitler himself. . . .

Upon seeing the ad, one has to ask, do they really believe this garbage? Are they so ill that they really think this, or are they so ill that they don’t believe it but are willing to subject this nation to the accusation? Either way you look at it, it is beyond the pale, to say nothing of obscenely absurd.

Wolf Blitzer, CNN, January 13, 2004 (via NEXIS):

BLITZER: Two guests: the Republican National Committee chairman, Ed Gillespie, the Democratic National Committee chairman, Terry McAuliffe.

The whole moveon.org controversy involving that ad, making the comparison an ugly comparison between the president of the United States and Adolf Hitler has caused a big stir. I want to remind our viewers what we saw. Listen to this. . . [ad shown]

Did the DNC do anything, take any step, go to the moveon.org., in any way whatsoever issue a statement saying — condemning this kind of behavior?

MCAULIFFE: I went in public on television immediately and said it was disgraceful, disgusting and take it down. There is no room in our political discourse for these kinds of ads. . . .

BLITZER: It’s obviously an ugly, ugly ad. The RNC has condemned that. And, of course, moveon.org only had it up on their Web site. They didn’t endorse it. It didn’t win their contest, but it certainly is beyond the pale of any acceptable kind of discourse.

Cliff May, Hannity & Colmes, January 13, 2004:

You and I agree that certain things should be beyond the pale in terms of political discourse. And comparing them, any American in office to Osama bin Laden or Adolph Hitler that’s right there. . . .

Joe Scarborough, MSNBC, January 12, 2004:

SCARBOROUGH:  And political hate speech. An activist group posts political ads that compare our president to Adolf Hitler. . . .

STEPHEN MOORE, CLUB FOR GROWTH: And the only thing, Flavia, that is despicable is that people would produce an ad like that. . . . .The RNC got this ad from MoveOn.org because it was posted on their Web site. I think it’s a despicable ad. And I think it really shows that the people who are driving the Democratic Party today are so driven by Bush hatred.

GOOD MORNING AMERICA, January 7, 2004:

DIANE SAWYER:

Anyway, what if you could create your own political advertisement against President Bush? How far would you go? Well, a lot of people have gone too far according to some. There’s a political tempest underway out there. And we asked ABC’s Jake Tapper to tell us about this this morning. Jake? He’s in Washington.

JAKE TAPPER:

But among the hundreds of entries were two that caused outrage and offense.

ED GILLESPIE, CHAIRMAN REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE:

Two of the ones they posted for consideration compared the president directly to Adolf Hitler.

JAKE TAPPER (Voice Over): The Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies called the Hitler-Bush comparison “shameful” and “beyond the pale” with “no place in legitimate discourse of American politics.”

CNN, January 6, 2004:

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Ready for some nasty politics? OK, here it goes. It starts with a chilling speech from Adolph Hitler. It ends by comparing the Nazi dictator with President Bush.

Judy Woodruff has more.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Two ads comparing George W. Bush to Adolph Hitler have the darling of the left on the defensive. . . . Another chapter in a campaign that’s sure to take more nasty turns before it’s over.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, Hardball, January 6, 2004:

John Fund, how are the Democrats going to hide this sort of crazy lady in the attic now they’ve got, this Hitler ad? Because it reminds me of the Lou Schwartz ad. Remember back in ’64, the ad that was running against Goldwater, that showed a little girl picking flowers buds or whatever or petals as the bomb was about to go off?

It goes on and on and on like that — the Jeremiah Wright/Beer Summit/bowling-score media fixation of that week and beyond.  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.

Tomorrow, I’m going to attempt to speak with as many of these individuals and groups as possible who condemned the MoveOn ad from the single anonymous individual and see if they have any reaction to Limbaugh’s comments, and I encourage everyone to do the same.  I’ll post any reactions as I get them.

 

UPDATE:  I’ve sent emails to many of the people and groups referenced here — which I’ve posted here — and will post any responses if and when I receive them.

 

UPDATE II:  National Review‘s Cliff May:  ”It is wrong, outrageous and damaging for Rush Limbaugh to compare Obama to Hitler. . . . Such hyperbole only serves to confuse and trivialize issues much more grave than tax rates and health-care plans.”

 

UPDATE III:  More responses here.

To Cliff May:

Cliff — When an anonymous individual submitted an ad in the MoveOn contest comparing George Bush to Adolf Hitler, you excoriated that individual as going way over the line of civilized discourse.

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh — who has an audience of 15 million people — compared Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler. Do you have any comment about that? Details here:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/08/06/republicans/index.html

Thanks -

Glenn Greenwald

SALON

To Tammy Bruce:

Tammy – When an anonymous individual submitted an ad in the MoveOn contest comparing George Bush to Adolf Hitler, you excoriated that individual, saying “it is beyond the pale, to say nothing of obscenely absurd” and “The Leftist extremists now in charge of the Democratic Party are either so desperate or delusional they are now comparing this nation to Hitler’s Third Reich and the president to Hitler himself.”

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh — who has an audience of 15 million people — compared Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler. Do you have any comment about that? Details here:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/08/06/republicans/index.html

Thanks -

Glenn Greenwald

SALON

To the Anti-Defamation League:

ADL: In 2004, When an anonymous individual submitted an ad in the MoveOn contest comparing George Bush to Adolf Hitler, Abraham Foxman issued a statement saying, among other things, that: “It is shocking that a mainstream political group like MoveOn.org not only allowed this vile and outrageous comparison of the American President to Adolf Hitler to be entered into its ‘Bush in 30 Seconds’ contest in the first place, but that they even went so far as to make it available to the public on the Internet.”

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh — who has an audience of 15 million people — compared Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler.

Does the ADL have any comment about that? Details here:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/08/06/republicans/index.html

Thanks -

Glenn Greenwald

SALON


To the Simon Wiesenthal Center:

To the Simon Wiesenthal Center: in 2004, When an anonymous individual submitted an ad in the MoveOn contest comparing George Bush to Adolf Hitler, your Center issued a statement saying, among other things, that called the Hitler-Bush comparison “shameful” and “beyond the pale” with “no place in legitimate discourse of American politics.”

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh — who has an audience of 15 million people — compared Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler.

Does the Center have any comment about that? Details here:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/08/06/republicans/index.html

Thanks -

Glenn Greenwald

SALON


To Jack Rosen of the American Jewish Congress:

Mr. Rosen – In 2004, When an anonymous individual submitted an ad in the MoveOn contest comparing George Bush to Adolf Hitler, you issued a statement saying, among other things, that “comparing the commander-in-chief of a democratic nation to the murderous tyrant Hitler is not only historically specious, it is morally outrageous.”

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh — who has an audience of 15 million people — compared Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler.

Do you or the AJC have any comment about that? Details here:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/08/06/republicans/index.html

Thanks -

Glenn Greenwald

SALON


To Ed Gillespie:

Mr. Gillespie: In 2004, when an anonymous individual submitted an ad in the MoveOn contest comparing George Bush to Adolf Hitler, Abraham Foxman issued a statement saying, you issued a press release and appeared on numerous programs vehemently condemning that, saying among other things, that comparing the President to Hitler was “the worst and most vile form of political hate speech.”

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh — who has an audience of 15 million people — compared Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler.

Do you have any comment about that? Details here:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/08/06/republicans/index.html

Thanks -

Glenn Greenwald

SALON

Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

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