Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Thank you, San Francisco Chronicle:

President Bush's call for Republicans and Democrats to work together, for America to engage the world and for the nation to quit its addiction to oil will sound to many skeptics like Barry Bonds calling for an end to steroid use in baseball.

It was not Bush's failure to solve these problems over the course of the first five years of his presidency that required him to highlight them in his State of the Union address, his critics insist; it was Bush's contributions to these problems that elevated each to a matter of significance.

...Civility has not always marked the Bush administration's response to its critics, particularly those who have questioned the war in Iraq. Administration officials blistered Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a decorated Marine and former supporter of the war, when he called in November for U.S troops to withdraw from Iraq as soon as possible.

Vice President Dick Cheney suggested that some Democrats were losing "their backbone," while White House press secretary Scott McClellan said it was "baffling that (Murtha) is endorsing the policy positions of (filmmaker) Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party." ...

Similarly, Bush's call to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil follows five years of promoting U.S. oil production and rejecting calls for conservation.

In the first year of Bush's presidency, Cheney dismissively observed, "you cannot conserve your way to energy independence." ....

The part about Republican incivility is particularly gratifying -- both sides can be nasty, but Democratic harshness is frequently held up as a disgrace (meanie Dems made Sam Alito's wife cry!), while GOP viciousness is treated as mere "hardball" or ignored altogether.

We're seeing this now in Minnesota, where a campaign volunteer for former FBI whistleblower and Democratic congressional candidate Colleen Rowley posted a silly Photoshopped image of Rowley's opponent, John Kline, as Colonel Klink from Hogan's Heroes (aka "Colonel Kline"). Klink, of course, was the Third Reich rendered bumbling and toothless; the character didn't offend the actor who played him, the son of a Jewish father who fled Germany as a teenager, or the death-camp survivor who played one of his foils; the post accompanying the image has nothing to do with Nazism (it concerns Kline's support for replacing Ulysses S. Grant with Ronald Reagan on the $50 bill). Nevertheless, the usual bloviators are in full phony-sanctimonious mode ("As the Democratic Party continues its slide into disrepute, there doesn't seem to be any bottom in sight.... In a sane world, the pathetic Ms. Rowley would be forced to resign from the race in humiliation").

Yes, it's appropriate for Rowley to take down the image and apologize, as she's now done. But the calls for civility ring rather hollow when it's widely known that Jonah Goldberg is about to publish a book entitled Liberal Fascism: The Totalitarian Temptation from Mussolini to Hillary Clinton, with a cover that features a happy face with a Hitler mustache. If it was reasonable to say that the Rowley post accused Kline of being a Nazi, then it's reasonable to say Goldberg is making the same charge against Senator Clinton. If the Rowley post had to come down, then this book cover (and perhaps the entire book) should never be published. But no one on the right, and no one in the center, will ever hold this book to the same standard to which Rowley's being held.

Then again, the Right always gets away with this crap. Here's conservative eminence grise Paul Weyrich a month before the 2000 election:

How many times have you heard the lament of the Germans that they didn't read Adolph Hitler's book Mein Kamph [sic], or if they did read it, they didn't take it seriously? In it he laid out his plans for Germany for all to see. If the German elite had taken him seriously, no doubt he never would have been elected in the first place, or if elected he certainly would not have been permitted to proceed with his disastrous plans.

I am reminded of that situation because Al Gore too has written a book, Earth in the Balance....

Just like Hitler, Gore has been kind enough to spell out all of his plans in advance. Only this time will we take those plans seriously? Will we warn the people by quoting from the words of the man himself? Or will we too be lamenting years from now that we either didn't read the book or didn't take it seriously if we did....

Based on the Rowley standard, isn't he equating Gore and Hitler? Yet I seem to have missed the outraged denunciation of this from high-minded souls on the right.

(And I'm wondering what Weyrich thinks now of President Bush's agreement with some of the points in Gore's Hitlerian eco-manifesto. Somehow I doubt that Weyrich will accuse Bush of goosestepping.)

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