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"Autumns of False Patriotism" was the 16th Special Comment delivered on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, airing on 26 February 2007.

The Comment[]

Finally, as promised, special comments on the remarks yesterday by Secretary of State Rice.

We already know about her suggestion that the president could just ignore whatever congressional Democrats do about Iraq. Just ignore Congress? We know how that game always turns out. Ask President Nixon, ask President Andrew Johnson.

But about what the secretary said regarding the prospect of Congress revising or repealing the 2002 authorization of the war in Iraq, and here we go again. From Springs spent trying to link Saddam Hussein, to Summers of cynically manipulated intelligence, through Autumns of false patriotism, to winters of war, we have had more than four years of every cheap trick and every degree of calculated cynicism from an administration filled with Three Card Monte players.

But the longer Dr. Rice and these other pickpocket of the nation's goodness have walked among us, waving flags and slandering opponents, and making true enemies, foreign and domestic, all hat and no cattle all the while, the overriding truth of their occupancy of our highest offices of state has only gradually become clear. As they asked once in the Avis commercial, ever get the feeling some people just stop trying?

Secretary Rumsfeld thought he could equate those who doubted him with Nazi appeasers, without reminding everybody that the actual historical Nazi appeasers in this country in the 1930's were the Republicans. Vice President Cheney thought he could talk as if he, and he alone, knew the truth about Iraq and 9/11, without anyone ever noticing that even the rest of the administration officially disagreed with him. The president really acted as if you could scare all the people all the time, and not lose your soul and your congressional majority as a result.

But Secretary of State Rice may have now taken the cake. On the Sunday morning interview show of broken record on Fox, Dr. Rice spoke a paragraph which, if it had been included in a remedial history paper at the weakest high school in the nation, would have gotten the writer an F, maybe an expulsion: "if Congress were now to revise the Iraq authorization," she said, out loud, with an adult present, quote, "it would be like saying that after Adolf Hitler was overthrown, we needed to change then the resolution that allowed the United States to do that, so that we could deal with creating a stable environment in Europe after he was overthrown."

The secretary's resume reads that she has a master's degree and PHD in political science. The interviewer should have demanded to see them on the spot. Dr. Rice spoke 42 words. She may have made more mistakes in them than did the president in his State of the Union Address in 2003. There is obviously no mistaking Saddam Hussein for a human being, but nor is there any mistaking him for Adolf Hitler. Invoking the German dictator, who subjugated Europe, who tried to exterminate the Jews, who sought to overtake the world, is not just in the poorest of tastes, but it is hyperbole.

It insults not merely the victims of the Third Reich, but also those in this country who fought it and who defeated it. Saddam Hussein was not Adolf Hitler, and George W. Bush is not Franklin D. Roosevelt, nor Dwight D. Eisenhower. He isn't even George H.W. Bush, who fought in that war.

However, even through the clouds of deliberately spread fear, and even under the weight of 1,000 exaggerations of the five years past, one can just barely make out how a battle against international terrorism in 2007 could be compared by some to the Second World War. The analogy is weak. It instantly begs the question of why those of the greatest generation focused on Hitler and Hirohito, but our leaders of today seem to have ignored their vague parallels of today, to instead concentrate on the Mussolinis of modern terrorism.

But in some small, you didn't fail junior, but you may need to go to summer school kind of way you can just make out that comparison. But Secretary Rice, overthrowing Saddam Hussein was akin to overthrowing Adolf Hitler? Are you kidding? Did you want to provoke the world's laughter? And please, madam secretary, if you are going to make that most implausible, dubious, subjective, ridiculous comparison, if you want to be as far off the mark about the Second World War as, say, this pathetic Holocaust denier from Iran, Ahmadinejad, at least get the easily verifiable facts right, the facts honed through history. Lie in your own department.

The resolution that allowed the United States to overthrow Hitler, on the 11th of December, 1941, at 8:00 in the morning, two of Hitler's diplomats walked up to the State Department, your office, Secretary Rice, and 90 minutes later, they were handing a declaration of war to the chief of the department's European division. The Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor four days earlier, and the Germans simply piled on.

Your predecessors, Dr. Rice, did not spend a year making up phony evidence, and mistaking German balloon inflating trucks for mobile germ warfare labs. They didn't pretend the world was ending, because a tin pot tyrant could not hand over the chemical weapons it turned out he had destroyed a decade earlier.

The Germans walked up to the front door of our State Department and said, we're at war. It was in all the papers. And when that war ended, more than three horrible years later, our troops and the Russian troops were in Berlin, and we stayed, as an occupying force, well into the 1950's, as an occupying force, madam secretary.

If you want to compare what we did to Hitler, and in Germany, to what we did to Saddam, and in Iraq, I'm afraid you're going to have to buy the whole analogy. We were an occupying force in Germany, Dr. Rice. And by your logic, we are now an occupying force in Iraq. And if that's the way you see it, you damn well better come out and tell the American people so. Save your breath telling it to the Iraqis, most of them already buy that part of the comparison.

"It would be like saying that after Adolf Hitler was overthrown, we needed to change, then, the resolution that allowed the United States to do that, so that we could deal with creating a stable environment in Europe after he was overthrown." We already have a subjectively false comparison between Hitler and Saddam. We already have a historically false comparison between Germany and Iraq. We already have blissful ignorance by our secretary of state about how this country got into the war against Hitler. But then there's this part about changing the resolution about Iraq, that it would be as ridiculous, in this secretary's eyes, as saying that after Hitler was defeated, we needed to go back to Congress to deal with creating a stable environment in Europe after he was overthrown.

Oh, good grief, Secretary Rice, that's exactly what we did do. We went back to Congress to deal with creating a stable environment in Europe after Hitler was overthrown. It was called the Marshall Plan, Marshall, General George Catlett Marshall, secretary of state, the job you have now. Come on!

Twelve billion four hundred thousand dollars to stabilize all of Europe economically, to keep the next enemies of freedom, the Russians, out and democracy in. How do you suppose that happened? The president of the United States went back to Congress and asked it for a new authorization and for the money. And do you have any idea, madam secretary, who opposed him when he did that? The Republicans.

We have spent enough money in Europe, said Senator Taft of Ohio. We spent enough of our resources, said former President Hoover. It's time to pull out of there. As they stand up, we'll stand down. This administration has long thought otherwise, but you cannot cherry pick life, whether life in 2007, or life in the history page marked 1945. You can't keep the facts that fit your prejudices and throw out the ones that destroy your theories.

If you're going to try to do that, if you still want to fool some people into thinking that Saddam was Hitler, and once we gave F.D.R. that blank check in Germany, he was no longer subject to the laws of Congress or gravity or physics, at least stop humiliating us. Get your facts straight. Use the Google. You've been on Fox News Sunday, Secretary Rice. That network now has got another show premiering tomorrow night. You could go on that one too. It might be a better fit.

It's called Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

See Also[]

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