H/t to Raising Kaine (and as Lowell observed, “It’s pretty bad when even Pat Buchanan thinks George W. Bush is nuts.”
Well, not only is Bush nuts, and his statements inappropriate and completely out of the bounds of decency, but the examples he used ought to embarrass any Republican who knows his history. Let’s look again at Bush’s statement:
As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American Senator declared: 'Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.’First of all, talking to a world leader, even a dictator, is not appeasement. It’s diplomacy and negotiation. Every effective administration does that. Appeasement is caving in to a dictator and giving something of value - such as Czechoslovakia - to him. No American candidate, Republican or Democrat has suggested acquiescing to any tyrant's demands. That's not how effective negotiation works, and everybody with any common sense knows it. That's why Condi Rice has been attempting to negotiate an Israeli-Palestinian agreement and why Bush has sought negotiation with North Korea.
But even more telling, Bush, perhaps, might want to reconsider his example because that quote about talking to Hitler was made by Idaho Senator William Edgar Borah, a Republican isolationist. He and fellow Republican American Firster, Senator Gerald Nye, opposed America’s entry into World War II to stop Adolph Hitler.
In addition, George Bush’s own grandfather, Prescott, was believed to have been part of a coup attempt, along with America’s most prominent business leaders, in 1933 to oust Franklin Roosevelt because they believed that the best way to combat the Great Depression was for America to adopt a system like that of Mussolini and Hitler. (Again, h/t to Grey Havens at RK for this information)
That may have been the first time wealthy and prominent Republicans expressed admiration for fascist policies but it certainly wasn’t the last. As Paul Krugman documents in his book, The Conscience of a Liberal, William Buckley wrote, in 1957, in his newly formed journal, The National Review,
General Franco is an authentic national hero. It is generally conceded that he above others had the combination of talents, the perseverance, and the sense of righteousness of his cause that were required to wrest Spain from the hands of the visionaries, ideoglogues, Marxists and nihilists that were imposing on her in the thirties, a regime so grotesque as to do violence to the Spanish soul, to deny even, Spain’s historical identity. (from “Yes and Many Thanks, But Now the War is Over,” The National Review, Oct. 26, 1957)As Krugman points out, “The regime so grotesque overthrown by Generalissmo Francisco Franco – with critical aid from Mussolini and Hitler – was, in fact, Spain’s democratically elected government.”
Perhaps, Republicans grew too comfortable for their own good at hurling charges of “socialist and communist” at Democrats. But toxic labeling is not an argument. It's a slur. And it's usually pretty ineffective at make one's case.
But when they upped the ante by trying to accuse Democrats of appeasement and compared us to Hitler sympathizers, they treaded on even more dangerous ground – the ground of their own embarrassing historical flirtations with fascism and Nazi sympathy.
Call me crazy but perhaps they should have quit while they were ahead. After all, a quick look back at 2005 illustrates how well invoking Hitler against a Democrat worked for Jerry Kilgore.