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Saturday, June 26, 2004

Der Fuhrer's Face 

You will recall the controversy some months ago when MoveOn.org ran a contest in which the public was invited to submit anti-Bush ads. Two of the 1500 submissions compared Bush to Hitler; both were quickly yanked from the site and MoveOn apologized profusely for letting them slip past in the first place.

Many Zemblans would agree that comparing one's political opponents to Hitler is perhaps just a tad beyond the bounds of civil discourse (although likening Democrats to Goebbels, Leni Reifenstahl, or other, somewhat less prominent Nazis, as Bill O'Reilly and his ilk are in the habit of doing, is jolly good fun for all). But just in case you thought the party of honor, integrity, moral rectitude, "changing the tone," torture memos, hillbilly heroin, public sex with Seven of Nine, and "go fuck yourself" had even a passing interest in playing by the rules of civil discourse, we have news for you:

Hitler's back and Bush's got him!
President Bush's campaign Web site is featuring an advertisement casting Senator John Kerry and his allies as a "coalition of the wild-eyed," blending clips of former Vice President Al Gore, former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont and the filmmaker Michael Moore shouting about Mr. Bush. Interspersed twice are images of a shouting Hitler, drawn from a Web spot that MoveOn.org, the Internet advocacy group that runs anti-Bush advertisements, briefly posted months ago in a contest for advertisements about the president . . . .

The Bush campaign's Web video was sent electronically to the six million people on its e-mail list.

Nicolle Devenish, a spokeswoman for the Bush campaign, said, "We share Senator Kerry's outrage with what Kerry's surrogates created in the form of a Web video that was on MoveOn.org's web site."

"The video was created to show our supporters what we're up against,'' Ms. Devenish said. "Team Kerry is an angry, rage-filled group that offers no positive vision for America" . . . .

The advertisement on the Bush-Cheney Web site, georgewbush.com, opens with a close-up image of Mr. Gore shouting, "How dare they drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud of Saddam Hussein's torture prison." A fuzzy image of Hitler with the MoveOn.org logotype visible immediately follows, along with shouts of "Sieg Heil."

Mr. Dean is then shown shouting, "I want my country back," followed by brief clips of Mr. Moore and Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri and then Hitler again, though the MoveOn.org source is not shown this time. Mr. Gore is immediately shown again, shouting that Mr. Bush had "betrayed this country." Finally comes Mr. Kerry, denouncing the president.
I admit I'm puzzled by this strategy. Now that the Bushies have stooped so low as to put Hitler to work in their ad campaign, how can they possibly complain if some underhanded Democratic operative has the bad taste to retaliate by bringing up the whole unfortunate business with Granddaddy Prescott Bush?

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