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Nancy's Nazi Shock: Did She Forget the Bush Years?

Nancy's Nazi Shock: Did She Forget the Bush Years?

By John Leo - August 8, 2009

Nancy Pelosi is shocked by the presence of some swastikas at protests against Obamacare. Who ever heard of such a thing? Well, any mildly alert American old enough to remember the anti-war protests of 2003-2007. Images of George Bush with a Hitler mustache and a Nazi uniform was everywhere at swastika-choked marches and rallies. "Stop the Fourth Reich-Visualize Nuremburg," said one sign at a Hollywood march. "The Fuhrer already in his bunker," said another. Lots of Nazi regalia appeared at protests in Pelosi's San Francisco as well.

On far-left Internet sites, where basic Bush-Is-Hitler commentary became too familiar to attract attention, Bush aides were quickly assigned Nazi roles; Tom Ridge was the new Himmler and Colin Powell became Nazi Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop; Ari Fleisher, Karen Hughes and Karl Rove were all Josef Goebbels figures. Some thought Vice President Cheney was the most important Hitler figure - he commands "storm-trooper legions," said famous crackpot Lyndon LaRouche.

One fevered lefty connected Bush to Nero as well as Hitler, saying "Nero burned Rome, Hitler burned the Reichstag and Bush burned the World Trade Center."

An even more inventive commenter managed to link Rove to Josef Mengele, the depraved Nazi doctor nicknamed the Angel of Death: "Bush made up stories about John McCain, just as Josef Mengele conducted medical experiments on children in Auschwitz." What?

Donald Rumsfeld was the new Rommel. The Action Coalition of Taos, New Mexico, however, thought Rumsfeld was the real Hitler, since, like Adolf, he had a mountain retreat. In an op-ed published in Florida, Air Force veteran Douglas Herman, disagreed, saying Rumsfeld was more like Goering, because both men had been fighter pilots.

Mainstream commentary featured Nazi references too. Both Senator Robert Byrd and billionaire Democrat George Soros said Bush reminded them of Herman Goering.

During the 2004 presidential campaign, Al Gore used the term "brownshirts" (Nazi street thugs) to refer to Republican computer teams assigned to respond to criticism of Bush and the Iraq war.

Vanity Fair magazine nominated Richard Perle for the Goebbels role, running photos of both men under the headline "Separated at Birth?"

New York Times columnist Frank Rich managed to work in a reference to a famous Nazi filmmaker. He said a Showtime program on 9/11 was so favorable to Bush that it is "best viewed as a fitting memorial to Leni Riefenstahl."

The Rev. Andrew Greeley, sociologist and novelist, depicted Bush as a Hitler figure who carried American over to "the dark side."

Federal appeals judge Guido Calabresi offered a comparatively mild Nazi reference, saying the Bush's rise to power was reminiscent of the rise of Hitler and Mussolini, with the Supreme Court pushing him into the presidency with the Bush v. Gore decision.

Bush reminded the left of non-Nazi villains as well. He was depicted as Attila the Hun, serial killer Ted Bundy, Mussolini, Ahab, Hannibal Lecter, the Anti-Christ and Frankenstein's monster (on the cover of the British edition of book by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman).

As far as we know, Nancy Pelosi never complained about any of this. Maybe she didn't notice.

John Leo is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He edits Minding the Campus, the Institute's web site on America's universities, and is a contributing editor to the City Journal.

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