I Pick "None of the Above"
Hitler persuaded the German legislature to grant him ultimate authority over the country. That's pretty impressive in and of itself, but Hitler was handicapped by the fact that he'd served prison time for treason less than 10 years earlier. This chronicle of "traitor to dictator in less than a decade" would be impossible to believe were it not irrefutable fact.
Pointdexter: Lying to Congress (overturned)
Rumsfeld: Sold Soul to Satan
Abrams: Iran/Contra (pardoned)
Reich: indicted (not convicted)
It is tempting to suspect Hitler pulled some sort of trick. Maybe there's a German translation of:
"Who thinks I should be supreme ruler of Germany?"
that also sounds like a phrase meaning:
"Who here likes beer? I mean the good stuff, not American crap."
and Hitler won on a technicality when everyone raised their hands.
But there weren't any tricks like that, the votes were Constitutionally legitimate. He did rig the system to reduce the number opponents who could vote against him, but that's not usually taken into account. Everyone knew what he was doing and nobody thought it was worth the effort to stop him at the time.
This starting to sound familiar?
Maybe some more details would help.
Hitler's meteoric rise in the Nazi party was fueled by his unmatched ability to raise large donations from corporate sponsors.
By the time Adolph Hitler became Chancellor, much of "German" industry saw him as "bought and paid for." The economy was a wreck, and the corporate sector figured that if they could get the power to rid themselves of requirements like — say — paying people, they could once again enjoy prosperity.
Any similarity to other candidates emerging yet? No?
Despite strong support from both the corporate elite and the general public, Hitler couldn't succeed in his ultimate power grab unless the desperation for solutions converted to panic. A perceived need for swift and decisive government action would prompt the citizens — and more importantly, the Reichstag — to grant him sweeping authority.
All Hilter needed to do was convince them that he could save Germany from imminent doom, were he able to act unfettered by the time consuming burden of being answerable to anyone.
As luck would have it, soon after attaining the office of Chancellor, terrorists struck at the very heart of Germany by burning down the Reichstag building. President Hindenburg granted Hitler special power to unconditionally inter anyone deemed a "threat to the nation" without any due process.
Please tell me this is making you nervous.
OK, don't answer that.
…and then he would laugh the evil-genius laugh.
No, that happens in the movies. In reality, the Germans knew damn well he was Adolph Hitler, evil genius. He made no secret of his totalitarian agenda — and a majority of the German people rallied around him. Amazing, isn't it?
No. It's depressing.
A Communist party member was officially blamed for the fire, giving Hitler an excuse to arrest all the Communists in the Riechstag. The Communists, who we all know were the greatest force of evil in the 20th Century, were unwavering in their opposition to the Nazi party, particularly as the Communists were immune to the influence of Hitler's corporate allies.
This removal of opposition votes was critical to winning the two-thirds majority required to grant him supreme power. Within months, Hitler was changing the face of Germany, whipping up nationalistic fervor among the citizens.
Heard this one recently?
How about if I mention that he casually and unilaterally dispensed with an arms control treaty his country was bound by? Anything?
He pissed off the French. OK, that could be anyone.
What if I cite his rise as an international bully?
What if I mention that he made international agreements and then prompty broke them?
Bush has announced he will abrogate the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Bush has announced violation of treaties banning low-yield nukes.
Our invasion of Iraq has violated a bunch of treaties — they're still tallying them up.
What about Hitler's unprovoked attacks against other countries based on the claim that they were havens for shadowy enemies of his homeland?
This doesn't remind you of anyone you know? Anyone who might be — say — President of a country in North America? Need a hint? It's not Canada or Mexico.
There are some startling similarities — at least some curiously similar elements — in the stories of Hitler and George W. Bush. We start with gobs of money from industry and Wall Street. We add the terrorist attack. We have highly-technical political victories, assisted with obvious manipulation. We witness an appeal to nationalism and a sudden re-appearance of the leader's nation as the world bully.
But really, these apparent overlaps actually invite us to highlight the stark differences between the two leaders. What follows is a roughly chronological comparison of the two men; the pace of their lives is different, so the biographies are broken into blocks of similar activity. These similar phases in each man's life are then contrasted.
COPYRIGHT © 2003 Winston Smith
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