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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

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Mike Huckabee Throws The ‘Oven’ At Obama

Mike Huckabee is making some big headlines — and totally embracing Godwin’s Law — by graphically invoking the Holocaust in an attack on President Obama and the Iran nuclear deal.

“This president’s foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians,” Huckabee told Breitbart on Sunday. “By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”

After a round of online outrage from liberals, Huckabee then dug in with an illustrated tweet, using the quote to invite people to sign his campaign’s petition against the Iran deal (that is, to sign up for his email list).

On Monday, during a press conference in Ethiopia, President Obama himself responded to the former Arkansas governor’s remarks. “The particular comments of Mr. Huckabee are, I think, part of just a general pattern that we’ve seen that is — would be considered ridiculous if it weren’t so sad. We’ve had a sitting senator call John Kerry Pontius Pilate. We’ve had a sitting senator who also happens to be running for president suggest that I’m the leading state sponsor of terrorism. These are leaders in the Republican Party.”

He also suggested the possibility that this is how Republicans must now compete with a certain other candidate in their ranks:

And so when you get rhetoric like this, maybe it gets attention and maybe this is just an effort to push Mr. Trump out of the headlines, but it’s not the kind of leadership that is needed for America right now. And I don’t think that’s what anybody — Democratic, Republican, or independent — is looking for out of their political leaders. In fact, it’s been interesting when you look at what’s happened with Mr. Trump, when he’s made some of the remarks that, for example, challenged the heroism of Mr. McCain, somebody who endured torture and conducted himself with exemplary patriotism, the Republican Party is shocked. And yet, that arises out of a culture where those kinds of outrageous attacks have become far too commonplace and get circulated nonstop through the Internet and talk radio and news outlets.

Huckabee, meanwhile, has responded in a statement of his own:

“What’s ‘ridiculous and sad’ is that President Obama does not take Iran’s repeated threats seriously. For decades, Iranian leaders have pledged to ‘destroy,’ ‘annihilate,’ and ‘wipe Israel off the map’ with a ‘big Holocaust.’ ‘Never again’ will be the policy of my administration and I will stand with our ally Israel to prevent the terrorists in Tehran from achieving their own stated goal of another Holocaust.”

Also, he’s now sent out a fundraising email:

And of course, Huckabee will appear today on Fox News to talk about the controversy:

Well, at least he’s getting some attention.

Photo: Gage Skitmore via Flickr

When The Hitler Card Won’t Do, Play The Chamberlain Card

If he accomplished nothing else during his presidency, Barack Obama has surely earned a place in the Bad Political Analogies Hall of Fame. According to savants on Fox News and right-wing editorial pages, Obama is both Adolf Hitler and Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who capitulated to Nazi territorial demands in 1938.

That is, to the more fervid exponents of the Sore Loser Party, President Obama is both a psychotic dictator and a spineless appeaser of tyrants.

(I am indebted for this insight to Washington, D.C., attorney Mike Godwin, promulgator of “Godwin’s Law,” which holds that the first person to play the Hitler card in a political argument automatically loses.)

I’m thinking the law also needs a Chamberlain corollary, because the Permanent War Caucus on the Republican right accuses every American president who negotiates an arms pact with our putative enemies of weakening national security. Always and with no known exceptions.

President Nixon got compared to Neville Chamberlain for his (strategically brilliant) opening to China, as well as for the SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty) with the Soviet Union.

In 1988, something called the Conservative Caucus, Inc. took out full-page newspaper ads arguing that “appeasement is as unwise in 1988 as in 1938.” The ad mocked President Reagan with Chamberlain’s iconic umbrella, and compared Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev to Hitler.

In 1989, of course, the Berlin Wall fell and the USSR imploded.

Jonathan Chait sums up the right’s paradoxical case against Obama, weakling dictator: “He is naive in the face of evil, desperate for agreement, more willing to help his enemies than his friends. The problem is that conservatives have made this same diagnosis of every American president for 70 years…Their analysis of the Iran negotiations is not an analysis at all, but an impulse.”

Despite the fact that Tehran made concessions most observers thought were impossible, the right hates this deal because they hate all deals. Today, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his U.S. supporters, such as the forever-wrong William Kristol, describe Iran’s leaders as the new Führer. The apocalyptic enemy before that was the Tehran regime’s bitter enemy, Saddam Hussein.

Anyway, we all know how invading Iraq worked out.

Iran is five times Iraq’s size, has three times its population, and has extremely forbidding terrain.

No matter. To the Permanent War Caucus, it’s always 1938 and blitzkrieg is eternally threatened. Netanyahu has been predicting Iran’s imminent acquisition of nuclear weapons for almost 20 years now — although the Wile E. Coyote bomb cartoon is a relatively recent touch.

Israel, of course, has a nuclear arsenal of its own.

But what really makes the Hitler/Chamberlain comparison so foolish isn’t simply that it’s a cliché. It’s that it completely misrepresents the power balance between the U.S., its allies, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China, and militarily weak, politically and strategically isolated Iran.

In 1938, Nazi Germany had the strongest military in the world. (Indeed, there’s a revisionist school that holds Neville Chamberlain was wise to postpone an inevitable war while Britain re-armed.)

Shiite Iran, by contrast, can scarcely project power much beyond its borders, and is threatened by traditional enemies on all sides. Examine a map of the Middle East. Tehran is almost 1,000 miles from Jerusalem. Ethnically and linguistically distinct, the Persians are surrounded by hostile Sunni Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, which repress their own Shiite minorities, and are fanatically opposed to the Ayatollahs.

Almost unknown in this country, U.S. client Saddam Hussein’s 1980 invasion of Iran — complete with nerve gas attacks on the Persians and Kurds –remains a bitter memory. ISIS terrorists are massacring Shiites by the thousands in Iraq and Syria. For that matter, check out the U.S. military bases ringing the Persian Gulf, along with omnipresent, nuclear-armed aircraft carriers and submarines.

One needn’t have a particle of sympathy for Iran’s odious theocratic government to see that we’ve got them totally outgunned and surrounded. Economic sanctions engineered by the Obama administration have really hurt. So yes, if they thought they could trust us, it would be very much in Tehran’s interest to make a deal and stick to it — putting the nuclear temptation aside in favor of what amounts to anti-invasion insurance.

But can we trust them?

President Obama explained his thinking to the New York Times’s Thomas Friedman: “We are powerful enough to be able to test these propositions without putting ourselves at risk. And that’s the thing…people don’t seem to understand.”

“[W]ith respect to Iran…a dangerous country, one that has engaged in activities that resulted in the death of U.S. citizens, but the truth of the matter is: Iran’s defense budget is $30 billion. Our defense budget is closer to $600 billion. Iran understands that they cannot fight us. You asked about an Obama doctrine. The doctrine is: We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.”

If you’re really strong, in other words, act strong.

Photo: British prime minister Neville Chamberlain (left) and German chancellor Adolf Hitler (in light jacket), leave their meeting at Bad Godesberg, September 23, 1938. Via Wikicommons.