Monday, June 28, 2004

On Politics, Advertising and Hitler

In the comments, Jason asks says: “No, this isn’t some fictional story or vast right wing conspiracy, it’s an ad that has pointed out just how crazed the extreme Left has become.” He’s referring to my comments about the much-discussed Bush ad (web only) in which they show Hitler interspersed among many Democrats denouncing President Bush.

First off, let’s kill the “only the Left is so depraved as to use Hitler for cheap political gain” meme. A good collection of some nuts on the right who’ve been peddling in the same ridiculous comparisons is here.

Does this make the inclusion of Hitler (for any purpose) OK? No. (And for the record, Jason: I never did, nor ever would, condone such actions. I’m disappointed that I even have to say that, but there you go.)

Pure and simple, the ad is terrible. It doesn’t convey the message it intends to convey, it can mean many things to different viewers (depending on their political background) and it paints the President in a bad light. (They’re hoping that you’ll disagree with the messenger and therefore discount the message. Unfortunately, these things have a way of sticking, regardless of who says them.)

Interestingly, the ad now includes 20 seconds of introductory text that tries to address the ad’s shortcomings. I don’t think it makes the ad any better, but at least it resolves some of the ambiguity of the imagery.

Update: Nice comments from Mat Gross about that whole “honor and dignity to the Oval Office” thing.


  1. Rick, thanks for addressing me in an entire thread. :)

    I never meant to imply that I condoned the RNC ad. I simply tried to point out the fact that it seemed ironic to me that Kerry and the Democrats were getting so worked up at the "use of Hitler in the ad", when in fact the images used were lifted straight from a Democrat ad. We can dance around whether Moveon is culpable or not, but the fact of the matter remains the Hitler mantra is a favorite of the far Left.

    Which brings me to respond to your update regarding Mat's comments about restoring dignity. While it's a nice attempt at painting the media as being some bastion of right wing cooperation, the truth is Al Gore has become amazingly unhinged. For him to refer to the current President of the U.S. in terms eliciting images of gulags and nazi officers is way out of line. Just as Mat feigns outrage over open disrespect for Gore, his lack of outrage over the treatment of the current President by that very same Gore is significantly telling.

    This whole episode and the attempts to paint Bush as the bad guy seem to be akin to the student in class who tells the teacher that another student has called her a bitch - and the teacher responds by punishing the snitch, simply for repeating the word.

  2. Jason -

    Come now. In my original post, I made the same point you're making (namely, that Kerry objecting to the use of Hitler is goofy, since Bush was trying (albeit poorly) to complain about the left's use of the images). In other words, it's a non-issue.

    A more interesting discussion is the quiet death the terrible ad would have died over six months ago if the Bush campaign and the RNC didn't keep resurrecting it and flogging it every few weeks... but that's fodder for a later date.

    And no, I'm not trying to recast this debate or deflect attention from the central issue. The left has no monopoly on fanatics trying to use inflammatory imagery (I'll take my Michael Moore, Howard Dean, George Soros and Al Gore if you take Ann Coulter, Dennis Miller, Richard Mellon Scaife and, oh, anyone at

    I'm not sure this finger pointing by Bush will win him many votes. There's plenty to be angry about these days. Americans are dying. Families have lost jobs. More Americans are without health insurance. Don't you think at some point the undecided voters (I hear there are still a few out there) will wonder whether _some_ of the anger expressed by the fanatics is justified? That, after all, is the strategy of those trying to send Bush home after one term. For Bush to highlight that anger in an ad seems like a strategy destined to backfire.

    Time will tell.