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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Free-falling GOP Trivializes Hitler, Stalin to Bash Obama

In their Politico post, ‘Republicans’ Uncivil War,” fellow Republicans Scott Faulkner and Jonathan Riehl lament the transformation of the GOP from a once-competent political party into an circus of bickering ideologues. While the authors view of the glorious GOP past is somewhat overstated to put it charitably, their take on the current predicament of their party includes some insights worth sharing:

The Republican Party is at war with itself and it is losing. For every successful Republican governor, there are Republican state legislators who embrace personally oppressive and interventionist initiatives. For every reasonable Republican member of Congress, there are more who embarrass. Every compelling soundbite from Republican candidates and pundits is overwhelmed by others that repel.
…Bush 43 added his own straw to the political camel’s back by his willingness to allow cronyism to trump competence. By promoting amateurs to bungle the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq and allowing the once noble Federal Emergency Management Agency to make an epic mess of Hurricane Katrina relief, Bush eviscerated the longstanding Republican reputation for competent management. The Republican echo chamber remained silent to this dismal record, violating another of the GOP’s core principles — holding power accountable. A Republican world view that was devoid of facts and critical thinking was taking hold. Like Thelma and Louise, Republican politicians and pundits grasped hands and floored the gas peddle into the abyss.
Except for some stellar governors, the Republican movement has been in free fall since late 2005. Like a cancer patient on remission, the tea party-fueled 2010 election blowout offered a fleeting and aberrant reversal of fortune. It remains to be seen if Republicans can heal themselves or whether the Democrats will overreach clearing the way for a GOP comeback by default. Either way, America’s political landscape is denuded when rational thought and competence are edged out of the picture.

And when the Republicans are not likening President Obama to the anti-Christ himself, it seems their preferred fallback similes are Hitler and Stalin, as Lincoln Mitchell notes in his post “Mike Huckabee’s Reductio ad Hitlerum” at HuffPo:

…The Tea Party and right wing penchant for comparing President Obama to Hitler and Stalin is evidence not of any totalitarian tendencies on the part of Obama. Instead it is evidence that right wing contempt for science is now rivaled by contempt for learning anything about history.
Stalin and Hitler are among the most brutal murderers and dictators of the 20th, or any other, century. Most of the world knows this. To the right wing of the Republican Party, apparently, Stalinism is a system of governance where the marginal tax rate exceeds 35 percent, while the Nazi regime, according to Huckabee’s newest insight, was one characterized by gun control.
…Using Communists and Nazis as a way to bludgeon one’s political opponents with powerful, if poorly constructed, political arguments is nothing new, but it is seems much more frequent now, with Obama a much bigger target than any previous president. Most of the more aggressive of these attacks come not from powerful Republican politicians but from media personalities like Huckabee, Tea Party activists or people on the fringes of political life. The failure of Republicans in more senior positions to speak out against this has now become so ordinary that it is rarely remarked upon, but it is still significant.

Yes, that Mike Huckabee, the one who reportedly told a gathering at an Ohio pancake breakfast

“Make a list,” said Huckabee, referring to supporters’ family and friends. “Call them and ask them, ‘Are you going to vote on Issue 2 and are you going to vote for it?’ If they say no, well, you just make sure that they don’t go vote. Let the air out of their tires on election day. Tell them the election has been moved to a different date. That’s up to you how you creatively get the job done.”

In case you thought he was just joking, it wasn’t the only time. As the Huck told a crowd in Virginia, according to HuffPo:

While campaigning for Republican Virginia gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee jokingly made reference to voter suppression. He told supporters that it’s “their job” to keep McDonnell opponents from the polls: “Let the air our of their tires … keep ’em home. Do the Lord’s work.”

In a way, Huckabee was just giving voice to the GOP’s extensive voter suppression project. Whatever criticisms can be fairly leveled at President Obama, he has never displayed anything like the utter contempt for the integrity of American Democracy that distinguishes the modern Republican Party.

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