Hillary Clinton had a rough go of it last week. First, she gave a mixed performance at the Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday. After dominating early on, she got hammered hard by her opponents, and gave a series of bafflingly contradictory answers.
Then on Thursday, Bush gave a speech defending his national-security record and attacking the Democratic congressional leadership. All Senator Clinton had to do was find an opening and take it, assert her opposition to Bush, and grab a few headlines at the expense of an angry Democratic base that’s almost Pavlovian in its dislike of the president. That would have been enough to remind everyone that she’s still the frontrunner.
How’d she do? Well, judging by her reaction to the president’s speech, it was a swing and a miss:
George Bush’s faulty and offensive historical analogies aren’t going to end the war in Iraq, make America safer or bring our troops home. Americans are tired of the President’s efforts to play politics with national security and practice the politics of division.
What “faulty and offensive” historical analogies did Bush make? Here’s the relevant excerpt from Bush’s speech:
History teaches that underestimating the words of evil, ambitious men is a terrible mistake. In the early 1900s, the world ignored the words of Lenin, as he laid out his plans to launch a Communist revolution in Russia — and the world paid a terrible price. The Soviet Empire he established killed tens of millions, and brought the world to the brink of thermonuclear war.
In the 1920s, the world ignored the words of Hitler, as he explained his intention to build an Aryan super-state in Germany, take revenge on Europe, and eradicate the Jews — and the world paid a terrible price. His Nazi regime killed millions in the gas chambers, and set the world aflame in war, before it was finally defeated at a terrible cost in lives and treasure.
Bin Laden and his terrorist allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them. And the question is: Will we listen? America and our coalition partners are listening. We have made our choice. We take the words of the enemy seriously.
As “Campaign Spot” Jim Geraghty sensibly wondered “How, exactly, is comparing Osama bin Laden to Lenin and Hitler offensive? Who’s being offended by that comparison?”
“Absolutely it was offensive. Lenin liberated the Russian people, Hitler tried to enslave them,” Jarvis Tyner, executive director of the Communist Party USA, told National Review Online in response. I assume by “liberated the Russian people,” Tyner didn’t mean “killed two to three million of them” — but hey, to-may-to, to-mah-to, right? After our initial phone conversation, Tyner called me right back because he’d already forgotten to whom he’d just spoken. When I told him again I was calling from National Review Online he began laughing hysterically. “You guys are secretly pro-Communist, right?” At least he was taking my inquiry in stride.
But before his borscht got cold, Tyner wanted to make one thing clear: “We definitely feel very strongly that whoever the Democrat is, they ought to beat the hell out of George Bush. He is a disaster for this world and this country,” he said. Fair enough.
Still, now that the Commies had weighed in, I could think of one other possible group that might be offended by the President’s speech. The chairman of the American Nazi Party is rather improbably named Rocky J. Suhayda. Less improbably, he answers his e-mail promptly — I’m guessing the trains run on time in that office.
When asked about it, Rocky wasn’t bothered by Bush’s analogy involving his beloved Führer:
Are we of the American Nazi Party ‘offended’ by Emperor ‘Red Beak’ Bush’s comparison of Bin Ladin with Adolf Hitler? Of course not! There was once a fellow named George Washington, and associates — I suppose the stuttering retard would have attempted to send them to Gitmo too — this corrupt Judeo-Capitalist Empire, has created in its greed all the ills now besetting the American White Working Class — and its long overdue, that’s it’s chickens are only beginning to come home to roost! [sic]
I don’t know about you, but I kept waiting for that deranged sentence to come home to roost.
So if you’re keeping score, Hillary Clinton finds Bush’s historical analogy, comparing Osama Bin Laden to Hitler and Lenin, wrong and offensive. She is joined by the Communist Party USA, who also find the analogy offensive — apparently because Lenin didn’t do anything wrong. The American Nazi Party is, frankly, flattered by the comparison — which it gleefully extends to George Washington for reasons only a mental health professional knows. And everybody involved hates George W. Bush.
Somehow I doubt these are the ideological compatriots Clinton was seeking out when she suggested that the President’s analogy was “faulty and offensive.” But if the American Nazi Party and Communist Party USA are not the company in which Clinton wishes to place herself, then what did she mean? I, for one, would be grateful for some clarification about exactly how evil the Senator regards Osama Bin Laden — if he’s not fairly mentioned in the same breath as Hitler and Lenin.
Otherwise, I might suggest that the Senator’s Clintonian parsing has gotten out of hand. Or have we really reached a point at which it depends on what your definition of “megalomaniacal threat to Western civilization” is?
— Mark Hemingway is an NRO staff reporter.