Early Political Career: Luck Beats Skill — Every Time
Adolph Hitler: Nobody Stops Him, Because They Want to Believe
Hitler's post-war army duties involved campaigning against pacifism and Communism, two things he felt strongly were disrupting and weakening the fabric of German society &mdash these are also the two things most often cited as driving sentiment against the Iraq War.
After showing particular cunning in the war, Hitler's post war duty was to infiltrate various anti-government opposition groups. One such group was the German Worker's Party.
During the first rally Hitler attended, the content of one speech so offended Adolph's sensibilities that he lost his temper. Despite the fact that he had planned to avoid interacting with the group, he took the stage shouted down the speaker with a fierce and articulate rebuttal.
The Worker's Party officials were so impressed with his skills that they made him an official of the party.
Having had no initial interest in this party, he soon co-opted it, rewrote its platform and renamed it to the National Socialist German Worker's Party, or Nazi Party for short.
Such one-man party coups happen from time to time. Although Hitler's unique gift for oratory was a factor in his tale, such a power-grab can be done by an individual or group with much less charisma any time a party becomes unfocused. This happens after defeats or if strong leaders depart. Some accuse the Republican Party of being co-opted by the religious right, but this is a weak example; the Republicans give the religious right's agenda lip service, but their policy initiatives are not nearly as radical.
A better example is Pat Buchannan seizing control of the Reform Party in the 2000 election. Much like Adolph Hitler, Pat Buchannan really turned the Reform Party into something of his own design — something markedly different than what it was when he joined.
The only way the two stories could be any more alike is if Buchannan had changed the name from Reform Party to National Socialist German Worker's Party and grown a little mustache.
George W. Bush: A Registered Trademark of the RNC.
George W. Bush's father was a Republican and so George W. Bush is a Republican. It unclear that he really knows what that means, or has any meaningful understanding of what other party platforms say. George Bush understands fraternities and he understands that power and privilege are held by only a few. Everything he's been part of his whole life has been some kind of club in some way, Yale, Harvard, and even the Texas Air National Guard. They've all been exclusive, available, for the most part, to the privileged. He was also placed in these exclusive club as an entitlement of his membership in the privileged elite.
Look at the way he behaved in the military, the brazen attitude that the rules don't apply to him — and why should he believe they do? The rules that would have decided whether you or I can be admitted to Harvard Business School didn't apply to him and we can only get his deal if we're in his club. To George W. Bush, the Republican party is a club he's in. It's the club for rich and popular people. The Democratic party is for geeks and wimps, weirdos, stoners, homos, and artsy types who aren't homos, like Sean Penn.
Pick the worst of the worst of world leaders and they're all like that. Hitler was big into what club you were in. His alliance with Mussolini was the first time a treaty group gave itself a nickname that was purely to make it sound cooler: "The Axis." They could have been "The Bulldogs" or something. Pol Pot was clubby, Stalin, too. Saddam Hussein's Ba'th Party agenda is Arab nationalist (clubby!). I could go on.
Whatever their relative "evilness," clubby people have us and them. They see things as zero-sum. This is not the basis of effective public policy.
All public policy should have the same abstract goal: serve the public; the policy should improve the world for all the people who are affected by it.
That's impossible — you can't have every public policy aligned. You will always have conflicting opinions.
No! Everybody can be expected to have that same goal, but they should be expected have different views on how to achieve it.
Yeah, take Bush's tax cut and chuck it in the Potomac.
Take Bush's tax cut.
If I represent people in the Upper West Manhattan, my constituents benefit from that bill. If I represent a district in West Virginia, my constituents get nothing or end up worse. Why would I ever vote for that bill?
Sure, with something like a "where to put the waste dump" bill, somebody is going to have to get it &mdash but there's a logic of necessity to that. There's no logic to why the people in West Virginia who work as miners aren't getting a decent cut while millionaires are.
It's not even good to stimulate spending to boost the economy. Millionairs are already spending what they are going to spend. If one of the people in West Virginia got 10% more, they might buy a new car. Low income people spend their money, so stimulus cuts do the best in their bracket.
None of this "club people" stuff is new or even all that insightful. What differs from recent years is an attitude I can see in GWBush. Hopefully, before the next election, a lot of people will see it, too.
George W. Bush acts like a nobleman. He has never been outside the castle walls. While he knows that he's supposed to talk as if this is an egalitarian society, he doesn't know what one looks like, so he can't fake it without coaching. Furthermore, everyone he knows and meets understands that there is a power elite with access and privilege that the others don't have. He pretends to be an every-man and he gets away with it for two reasons: first, he's so unsophisticated that he never comes off as "elite" and secondly, he lies brazenly and people like the lies.
Right after the botched election, on December 12th, 2000, President-Appoint Bush met with some Democratic leaders and described him meeting breifly, with this obviously jocular remark:
If I'd been him, I would have said this, instead:
Not as funny, but you lose certain license when you "speak for the free world." A lot of what I've said in this writing would be really irresponsible for me to say in the same words, were I President. As a leader, choices you make in the way you express yourself have real consequences with tangible value — you have to respect that to be fit to lead.
The comment I've included came right on the heals of the controversial election. It wasn't a good time for the joke. I guess he learned… nope, he repeated the sentiment. In fact, he's said it several times. Makes you wonder.
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