The Ancient Art of Mudslinging

President Obama has been hit hard lately by critics.  A few have decided to take the low road with their criticisms.  The now infamous Obama/Joker mash-up spread furiously over the internet.  Rush Limbaugh recently claimed the Obama Administration’s health care reform logo closely resembled Nazi symbols.  Many expressed outrage, as they should, over a President being compared to one of the most heinous political organizations ever.  Those of us with knowledge of political history know this kind of venomous metaphor is nothing new.

Being similar Hitler and his Nazi Empire has been a favorite accusation of the opposition for some years.  If you want to convey total government control, disregard to human rights, or just a general evil nature you mention Nazis.  Since his death, Ronald Reagan has been called “pro-fascist” and a play, “A Bright Room Called Day“, has compared Reagan American to Nazi Germany.  Bill Clinton became labeled as a dictator by some before he left office and after.  I first heard the term “Liberal Fascism” shortly after Clinton left office, years before Johnah Goldberg’s book.

Even though it has been said voters have short memories, it shouldn’t be hard to remember George W. Bush being compared to Hitler and fascists.  A quick search of Google reveals far too many hits to list.  One writer used the same criteria used to label Clinton a fascist against George W.  George W. Bush’s maternal great-grandfather, George Herbert Walker, and his grandfather, Prescott Bush have been linked to a bank that did business with Fritz Thyssen who backed Hitler, but quickly became a harsh critic of the Nazi’s policies.  The visual comparisons of Bush and Hitler are numerous.  One page has attempted to collect all the references to Bush and Nazis.  The list, last updated in 2005, is vast.  Zomblog has done a retrospective of “Bush as Hitler“.  “Since I had a front-row seat between 2003 and 2008 at anti-Bush protests in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I saw literally THOUSANDS of Bush/Hitler comparisons

Presidential campaigns have been rife with mudslinging almost since the country began.  “[John Adams is] a hideous hermaphroditical character which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensiblity of a woman.” wrote a man on the payroll of Adams’ opponent Thomas Jefferson.  The man later outed Jefferson’s affair with Sally Hemmings.  The campaign of 1828 was one of the most downright foul campaigns in U.S. history.  The incumbent John Quincy Adams and challenger Andrew Jackson fired more mud at each other than has possibly been seen since.  Jackson’s supporters charged Adams with owning a billiard table and chess set,  traveling on Sunday, having premarital sex with his wife, and pimping out American girls to Czar Alexander I.  Adams’ supporters shot back, calling Jackson a slave trader, gambler, and brawling murderer.  Jackson did own slaves and was known to duel, so those accusations were not completely false.  Adams’ camp was not finished yet.  They took the fight to Jackson’s own family. The Adams’ supporters called Jackson’s mother a common prostitute.  They also claimed Jackson and his wife Rachel to be adulterers since they lived together before Rachel’s divorce from her abusive first husband had gone through.  “Ought a convicted adulteress and her paramour husband to be place in the highest offices of this free and Christian land?”, asked one newspaper.

Mudslinging has become synonymous with politics.  The recent attacks against President Obama were not the first outrageous comparisons we’ve seen in this country.  They are sure to not be the last.  If critics of George Washington could paint him as a “scourge and misfortune”, then no one is safe.

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2 Responses

  1. There should be outrage against comparisons to the Nazi regime in any U.S. administration. However, when the administration staff write editorials praising the success of Hitler’s stimulus in hyper-inflated Germany, the door of outrage somehow was closed. Yet, compare the health care logo side by side with the SS symbols and say they are shaped the same results in outrage. However, compare Les Otten’s logo to Obama’s and cry slander because the shape is the same has only outrage against Otten when the two are not running against each other! Mud slinging is no longer political for elections; it is a fully operational 24 hours a day operation by the various tentacles of moveon.org, organizing for america, the heritage foundation and so on and so forth from both sides.

    The Nazi comparisons were so numerous under George Bush that they were simply ignored. However, when one protestor with a No Nazi sign (like a no smoking sign) is referenced by Pelosi, the entire country goes into the same tail chasing mode to find someone to blame we were promised not to enter into again by this administration. Are we that stupid? Or have they trained us to be their sheep without knowing it?

    New idea: stay calm and civilized. Someone is shouting, ignore them. Do not get angry, just walk away if they do not stop. They follow you, contact police and put the stalker away. Civilized means doing your homework and coming with facts, not slogans.

    What do I call this idea? Nothing new really, just common sense.

  2. […] campaigns have done great things with fear and name calling in politics is as old as the Republic itself.  Still it is tough to play it right.  You have to be sure of […]

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