Why Republicans are obsessed with comparing Obama to Hitler
Mike Huckabee's latest remarks are just the tip of the iceberg
Say what you will about Mike Huckabee, the guy has a way with a quip. And when he responded to the Iran nuclear deal by claiming that Barack Obama "will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven," the only really surprising thing was that it took this long for Obama to go from being Neville Chamberlain on the subject of Iran to Adolf Hitler.
Because this wouldn't be the first time — or the 10th, or the 100th — that a prominent conservative has compared Obama to Hitler. Given ample opportunity to admit that maybe he went too far in his remarks, Huckabee has been unrepentant. "The response from Jewish people has been overwhelmingly positive," he said, making one wonder which Jews he's talking to, since as a people we tend to be a little put off by glib Nazi analogies, particularly ones that are so vivid. But Huckabee has gotten plenty of support from fellow conservatives, who are practically lining up to say that, yes, Obama really is bringing about another Holocaust.
I'm not going to bother to argue with the absurd assertion that: 1) drastically curtailing and inspecting Iran's nuclear program will actually do more to give Iran a nuclear weapon than just leaving the regime alone to do as it likes; and 2) the moment Iran has a weapon it will launch it at Israel in an act of national suicide. (Don't forget that Israel has something like 100 nukes, and so could vaporize every square inch of Iran without much trouble.) But I do want to comment on the propensity of conservatives to go back to the Fuhrer time and again.
Let's step back to Chamberlain for a moment before we move on to Hitler. Conservatives were calling the Iran deal the second coming of Munich even before any of its terms had been worked out. Which highlights something important about their beliefs on this topic: For all their talk of a fantasy deal in which Iran gives us everything we could possibly want and demands nothing in return, the whole point of the Munich analogy is that negotiation is useless by definition.
When conservatives said that Obama was like Chamberlain, they weren't saying Obama is a bad negotiator and could have gotten a better deal. It isn't the Red Sox selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees for $100,000. The clear implication of the Munich analogy is that there shouldn't have been any negotiations at all, and that war is inevitable so we might as well just get on with it. If your adversary is Hitler — and as far as many on the right or concerned, every potential adversary is Hitler — then war to save the world is the only option, and anyone who seeks a diplomatic solution to a dispute is a sucker.
But that was when they were being kind. Calling Obama Chamberlain suggests that his problem is naïvete, not malice. It accepts that he doesn't actually wish for the extermination of the Jews, even if that is the inevitable result of his foolishness. But of course, conservatives have thought for a long time that Obama is absolutely brimming with malice — toward America, toward Christians, toward Jews, toward white people, toward just about anyone they like.
Which is why we've hardly gone a month throughout this presidency without someone comparing Obama to Hitler, on matters both weighty and mundane. He had only been in office a few weeks when Glenn Beck started comparing his program to that of the Nazi party. "Adolf Hitler, like Barack Obama, also ruled by dictate," said Rush Limbaugh in the summer of 2009, just a few months later. Conservative commentators saw swastikas in Obama's push to register new voters in 2008, and even in his campaign slogans. Conservative favorite Ben Carson says the government under Obama is "very much like Nazi Germany," because "[y]ou had the government using its tools to intimidate the population. We now live in a society where people are afraid to say what they actually believe." And that's not to mention all the times some billionaire has compared Obama to Hitler for such appalling things as proposing to close the carried-interest loophole.
Plenty of former presidents were compared to Hitler by their opponents from time to time, but I think it's safe to say that none has been the target of so many Nazi comparisons, coming so often and from so many prominent people, whether they be politicians or media figures.
It's more evidence that the opposition to Obama is qualitatively different than what came before it. Never in our recent history has either party been as adamantly opposed to any political compromise as today's GOP is. Republicans hated Bill Clinton, like Democrats hated George W. Bush, but they were willing to work together fairly regularly — no more. No president has had his legitimate occupation of the Oval Office questioned as often as Obama has; the man even had to show his birth certificate before they'd believe he's actually an American (and many still don't).
From the beginning, the conservative argument against Obama from so many quarters has been that he's not just wrong or misguided, but is actually trying to destroy America and turn it into something twisted and ugly. If you think I'm exaggerating, then you haven't been listening to their radio shows, watching their TV network, or reading their books, because that's what they've been saying since before he got elected.
And if you believe that, then of course Obama isn't Chamberlain, because Chamberlain is just a fool. Obama is the really sinister one, the one who wants to snuff out liberty and crush those who love it under his boot. He's Hitler.