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Obama as Chancellor of Weimar America

What do some conservative US and leftist German politicians have in common? They use the other side of the Atlantic for fear-mongering.

The latest example is Jim DeMint, Republican Senator from South Carolina. According to The Washington Independent he made the following statement, when promoting his book at The National Press Club:

Part of what we're trying to do in "Saving Freedom" is just show that where we are, we're about where Germany was before World War II where they became a social democracy. You still had votes but the votes were just power grabs like you see in Iran, and other places in South America, like Chavez is running down in Venezuela. People become more dependent on the government so that they're easy to manipulate. And they keep voting for more government because that's where their security is.

Aha, I see, Iraq and Afghanistan and the current recession are for the United States what the WWI and the depression were for Germany. And the oldest modern democracy in Washington is still as immature as the Weimar Republic's, started after WWI. So Obama is running Weimar America.

OMG! People, get your guns, Hitler is just around the corner!

DeMint seems to be the first senator, who lowers the debate about Obama's reforms to the level of right-wing talk radio shock jocks and bloggers, who have been talking talking about "pre-WWII Germany," writes Steve Benen in the Washington Monthly's blog.

Are these just the statements of a few nut cases? Or is there more to it? Should we take their thinking serious? I think we have to, because many conservative Americans seem to be paranoid about social democracy, and they understand history much different than most folks in Europe do. Many are not crazy or stupid or lack general education, but they draw different lessons from history. This is a serious and fascinating transatlantic difference.

Apparently, as Michael Stickings writes in The Moderate Voice, "the Obama-is-a-socialist and socialism-is-fascism (and hence Obama-is-a-fascist) memes are big on the right, and DeMint was obviously riffing off that ridiculous connection. But what I think he was saying - or, at least, it's how it reads to me - is that social democracy is a precursor to fascism, just as Nazi Germany replaced Weimar Germany. In this sense, Obama isn't a Nazi but a pre-Nazi - or something like that."

Ed Kilgore explains in The New Republic's blog, that DeMint

was echoing, consciously or unconsciously, the popular right-wing nostrum  that the "chaos" of [Weimar Germany's] regime's "decadent parliamentary democracy" made the advent of the Third Reich inevitable if not actually salutary. That would comport with DeMint's iron conviction that "social democracies" produce "tyranny" by seducing people into dependence on government and then encouraging them to loot their wealthy and virtuous neighbors. And it would also fit in nicely with DeMint's Jesse-Helms-style enthusiasm for right-wing coups in Latin America. After all, what's a little fascism-of the illiberal kind, at least-compared to the horror of progressive taxes or universal health care.

Yglesias is reading a lot into DeMint's statement and made this exaggeration: "DeMint Confuses Nazis and Social Democrats; Also Calls Obama a Nazi" Ah, it's all politics! Every stupid statement of your opponents can be used for politics.

Last week, I wrote about Another Crazy Bush-Hitler Comparison. But this one is even worse: Joyce E. Thomann, president of the Republican Women of Anne Arundel County, wrote, according to the Baltimore Sun, in a letter on the group's homepage that "Obama and Hitler have a great deal in common in my view. Obama and Hitler use the 'blitzkrieg' method to overwhelm their enemies." Yes, of course, but Hitler didn't use a teleprompter.

BTW, did DeMint imply that Iran is some "place" in South America? Ah, so maybe it is a lack of education after all.

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Joerg Wolf on :

Just to add some skepticism on my last point regarding the lack of education: "Higher Education Fuels Stronger Belief in Ghosts" [url]http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/060121_paranormal_poll.html[/url]

Pat Patterson on :

I noticed you dropped the inference that Sen DeMint didn't know the difference between the location of Iran and Central America. Good thing as the Senator speaks Spanish and his prior duties when a Representative was Central and South America. He currently is on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has traveled extensively, junkets if you want, to both Africa and Europe. He also was one of the first senators to begin talking about the slow motion butchery of Sudan and Darfur. There are a few pockets of proper English spoken and written in the United States though few of the former and the latter of course expected written discourse. However very few Americans take public speaking and as a result we have on record some of the worst public orators in the world. The Senator included as well as the tongue tied President Obama. I wouldn't read to much in weird grammar especially when Caesar's Gallic Wars serves as an example of proper Latin. Unfortunately Latin at that time was a mish mash of illocal declensions and conjugations that drove centuries of school boys then eventually school girls insane.

Don S on :

All Presidents get compared to Hitler sooner or later. It's part of the job. This time it was a US Senator rather than the German Justice Minister. But, give them time. I've been looking forward to seeing a photo of 'Obama' sporting a toothbrush mustache or looking dashing in SS uniform. In a German political demonstration of course. If you ever wonder why I refuse to take Germany seriously any more - you need look no further than that.....

Don S on :

I don't expect the justice minister to do it this time. No, it will be everyone's favorite loose cannon - the current finance minister. When he gets tired of threatening the Swiss with the less than threatening German armed forces hes likely to train his sights on Obama....

Pamela on :

Joerg, DeMint is one of hundreds. He is a good guy but in terms of impact on policy - remains to be seen. If I had blog (oh, shut up Pamela, do it already) I would be posting this: A damining verict for European unity http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/48bbec78-6f10-11de-9109-00144feabdc0.html from the article ------------------- First, Germany’s constitutional court takes a clear stance on sovereignty. Ultimate authority always has to rest in a single place – and that is the member state for now. If you wanted to transfer sovereignty to the EU, you would have to dump your national constitution and adopt a European version in its place. As this is not going to happen, the court, in effect, ruled that all sovereignty in the EU is national. Power may be shared, but sovereignty may not. Second, the court does not recognise the European parliament as a genuine legislature, representing the will of a single European people, but as a representative body of member states. A particular criticism made by the court is that the European parliament does not behave like a true parliament. There is no formal opposition. There is no grouping that supports a government. While the Lisbon treaty increases the powers of the European parliament, it does not, in the court’s view, fix its ultimate short-coming: that the parliament does not constitute an effective control of EU executive power. --------- Needless to say, I'm laughing my ass off. I read every last word of the 'constitution and 'Lisbon treaty' and have written about it here. No where was there any mechanism for an individual country to try pull this off. So. Wherefore the EU? Wherefore Germany, France, et. al.? How does Germany's court get to kick the EU in the balls? Just asking. Zyme?

Zyme on :

Pamela my first thought on this was that this verdict does not necessarily put an end to EU integration. Should the European wind blow uncontinued, it may eventually put an end to the German constitutional court's power. The catholic church surely didn't survive 2000 years because it always had a strict stance in politics, rather by continously adjusting to the political weather. Neither does our constitution have to last forever, should it be used as the primary shield against progress instead of adjusting it. This article has provoked very different ideas though, although you have to keep in mind that its authors might not be entirely neutral: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2009/jul2009/pers-j04.shtml It provides interesting insight into the receivement of the verdict in the German political landscape, something which was almost completely missed by our media. Also possible conclusions are included, based around the thesis that European spirit is leaving for the return of national self interest in our foreign policy. Generally an interesting read. Regarding the legal fundament (I am no expert on EU law): Even in earlier decisions the constitutional court ruled that powers may only be transported to Brussels, as long as there is the same regime of human rights guaranteed as is in Germany. Now the court has fully criticized several flaws of the European Parliament, most notably the lack of opposition and the unequal distribution of votes needed for a seat in the parliament (greatly disadvantageous for the populous countries). Also by contrast to the British House of Lords, the German constitutional court has always refused to accept legal supremcy of the European Courts. Thus it has always threatened to intervene, as it sees fit. Now this step has been taken for the first time.

Pamela on :

World Socialist Web Site! Interesting reading habits you have there....... Thanks very much, tho, it looks interesting. I'm swamped today but I've bookmarked it for later.

Zyme on :

"Interesting reading habits you have" Only scanning the entire political bandwidth enables the gaining of an objective viewpoint - at least this is what I believe :P

Pat Patterson on :

I wouldn't use the Catholic Church as an example here as its evolvement simply had more to do with the Reformation and Gustavus Adolphus. It seems fairly farfetched to imply that this was a peaceful adaptation rather than simply a series of wars over centuries in both the Old and New Worlds as the battlefield. But are you suggesting that some physical force might limit the sway of a German court in relation to the European Court?

Zyme on :

Oh don't neglect the first 1500 years of its existence :) And I won't claim that those were peaceful years :D My point is simply that an organisation that stops adapting and instead wants to shield itself against the test of time is doomed. Just look at how the Church behaved during Fascism and Communism, both rather hostile towards the religion. Had it saught open confrontation, it would not have lasted.

Zyme on :

*sought damnit, don't expect me to defend those religious nutjobs any more!

John in Michigan, US on :

Well, DeMint has done off the deep end with this one. I don't know his career well enough to know if he really believes it, or if he is telling certain people what they want to hear and using quite a bit of dramatic license. Does anyone remember the zany [url=http://www.thebulletin.org/content/doomsday-clock/overview]Doomsday Clock[/url] that made its debut in the 80's (and is still ticking today). A bunch of scientists, who should know better, claim they can predict the date that humanity will self-destruct. Note well, their super-scientific clock aparatus admits to no possibility -- none -- that humanity will survive. The only reasonable debate is, how close are we to the end. And, thanks to science and the University of Chicago, that debate, too, has ended. Except of course for when they move the hands on the clock, at which point debate re-opens, briefly, just long enough for them to issue, not a peer-reviewed journal article, but a press release! Of course the Atomic clock is all political theater, but to this day, they still appear to claim that it is based on rigorous, empirical science. Sigh. They are mostly physicists, but apparently are qualified to assemble a team that knows all there is to know about cultures, economics, and political science. Perhaps they even taught themselves, in their spare time, while continuing to expand the frontiers of physics. "Atomic Scientists" sounds like a comic book title. They were probably battling crime, as well. Since the end of the Cold War, they have also taught themselves climate science and are able to factor all that into their calculations as well. They don't write much about the dangers from epidemics, meteors, etc. but surely they must be experts in these fields as well, mustn't they? Unlike DeMint, it it impossible to speculate as to their educational state. They are well educated. They have advanced degrees. Some have the highest degrees available in their field. Some of them probably have the highest honors possible in any scientific field. They probably even have a computer model. Sigh. Compared to this sort of sorcery masquerading as science, DeMint's populism is, relatively speaking, honest. Also, at least DeMint has to actually sell books, and face re-election, in order to make a living. Most of the Atomic Scientists have lifetime tenure at publicly funded universities.

Pat Patterson on :

Has anybody found the full transcript of DeMint's remarks. Every link I found refers back to The Washington Independent which is part of the more than slightly left IndyMedia groups in the US. And they only post that one paragraph which the NPC site doesn't even mention in its description of the luncheon speakers.

Joerg Wolf on :

I noticed that as well, when I wrote the post. I did not find any info on DeMint's homepage either. You could email him and ask whether he was quoted correctly. And we publish the results on Atlantic Review.

Joerg Wolf on :

Pat, you could also check what DeMint says about socialism, tyranny and Obama in his book: See Google Books: [url]http://tinyurl.com/nrhadf[/url]

Pat Patterson on :

I'm certainly not going to defend Sen DeMint's rather outlandish statements because as a typical pol he shades his remarks to fit the audience. I did e-mail his office and they said that the NPC owns the transcripts and have to be purchased individually. I'll check but won't make any promises. Watching and listening to Sen DeMint is comparable to my own congressman. I've known him since college, I've voted for him (the Democrats usually run the feeble or mentally deficient against him) and I got to go to the top of the restricted access Capitol Building but often he'll say something in a speech that makes my toes curl because he knows his audience and what they will respond to at that moment.

Pamela on :

Suffice to say that DeMint's communications director is now aware of this thread.

Pat Patterson on :

No response from Sen DeMint's office yet. Gee, a politician that ignores questions. What a surprise!

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