Rove and Goebbels: two of a disgusting kind
"What good fortune for governments that the people don’t think." – Adolph Hitler
Karl Rove, the Bush political strategist and now White House deputy chief of staff, has much in common with Joseph Goebbels, who held similar positions under Adolf Hitler and who also extended his power far beyond the range of the titles he held.
It is apparent that Rove studied the work of Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda genius, and I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t feel a certain kinship, though of course he’d never admit to such a thing.
As biographical analyses of both show, Goebbels was and Rove seems obviously to be driven by the demons that are born of being rejected and mocked by peers as youth. Goebbels was a small, scrawny, unpleasant looking man with a crippled foot. Rove was, and is, a pasty soft, pudgy individual with an unpleasant resemblance to a toad. Both also had/have very high IQs, an apparent desire to get even with the world, great skill at manipulating others and no scruples about or loyalty to anything or anybody. Their bosses appear to be simply the means through which they can cut and burn.
The Bush White House, as noted in the piece immediately below this one, is immensely successful in its use of the Big Lie, as fully developed by Goebbels. But it is only one of Goebbels’ techniques borrowed and in some cases improved by the Bush Gang under Rove’s tutelage. Rove is a master of controlling television, which is far more complicated than the radio of Goebbels’ day.
A favorite technique of Rove and his spiritual master, which first may have been updated for 1930s and ‘40s audiences by Benito Mussolini, Italy’s Fascist leader, is to insist with the greatest passion one can simulate that anyone who opposes anything a government does – but especially a war – is a traitor and a danger to the country and it’s people. If you criticize the government, you are giving "aid and comfort to the enemy." (Heard that in the last few years?)
Turn critics into enemies of the state and all but the bravest critics will go into hiding.
Was Goebbels a fan of stage magic? I doubt it, since he had very little interest in anything other than building and commanding power to shore up his fragile ego, but one of his favorite techniques, especially in the early days of Nazism, seems borrowed from stage magicians. It is the art of misdirection, and it is even more a favorite of the White House manipulators.
While you’re looking at the elaborately fluttering right hand, the left hand pulls a (dirty) trick on you.
There are, literally, hundreds of examples of misdirection by the Bush White House. The number is staggering, in fact. While Bush keeps the public and gutless press corps focused on phony, easily hyped topics, it is performing an overwhelming number of dirty tricks just beyond the view of sleepwalking reporters and, therefore, most of the population.
Think of the phony attack of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on "obscenity" on radio and television, the gay marriage ruse and the fanning of the abortion fight flame.
While the talking heads and press focus on those deliberately high profile issues, the administration is doing a horrendous amount of dirt out of sight of all but a handful of serious folk who can’t get a hearing from the blinkered and intimidated newsies. Even someone who spends hours daily reading and digging out the things "mainstream" news agencies don’t cover must fall behind.
The right wingers in Congress, who rarely act without White House approval, pass legislation creating big fines for "obscenity" on television and hound the head of the Public Broadcasting Service out of her job because a children’s program included a couple of lesbians raising a child together, even though there was no focus on their family structure. The press falls all over itself to cover the distraction issues, in a manner very sympathetic to the White House and Congressional nutters.
Meanwhile, the White House and it’s Congressional toadies conduct a blatant attack on all of the hard-won protections for the environment, for example – changing or simply ignoring rules and laws, underfunding the Environmental Protection Agency, slashing budgets for renewable energy programs and ocean protection, turning various unique wilderness areas over to loggers and mining companies. The press ignores most of those actions and relegates the few it mentions to one and two paragraph bits on inside pages among the pimple-cure ads. The questions of obscenity on television and gay marriage and such are a lot sexier.
Still another favorite of Goebbels, and equally favored by the White House under Rove’s instruction is intimidation of news outlets.
The White House names a new head spy – John Negroponte, now director of national intelligence – and the papers and television are full of his experience as a diplomat, but fail to mention that he is closely tied to death squads, other human rights abuses and the overturning of legitimate governments in Latin America.
The only reasonable explanation for that failure of coverage is that the people covering the White House are afraid to report those facts, although they are well known to people who follow Latin American affairs. The only coverage of Negroponte’s evil activities in my local newspaper was his utterly unbelievable claim that he didn’t know death squads were operating in Honduras when he was Ronald Reagan’s man in the area. Even that denial was buried deep in a long article, far back in the newspaper, where few readers venture.
Reporters have allowed themselves to be bullied into covering only what the White House wants covered, and telling pretty much only the portions of a story the White House wants to reach the public. The White House does that by complaining directly to friendly publishers about "unfriendly" reporters, by verbally abusing offending reporters in public and, far more than any previous presidency, by withholding access to administration people and keeping White House press credentials from reporters it doesn’t like – sometimes under the guise of "security."
Venerable Maureen Dowd, now a nationally syndicated columnist, covered the White House and presidents from 1986 until the beginning of the present administration, when she was denied accreditation. (Note that none of the press corps cowards who got their papers dared stand and fight for her.) Not long ago, when a new press secretary was named, Dowd again asked for accreditation and was told it might be forthcoming after a "background check" that would take several months. Her background, of course, is known to every sentient being in Washington.
In contrast, everybody now knows the story of the gay male whore (literally) who got quick clearance as a White House reporter for a Republican-owned blog and whose job it was to feed the press secretary and the president fat, slanted questions they could use to make their political points. Prostitute, gay, working for an outfit that couldn’t by any standard be characterized as a legitimate news operation, he wasn’t regarded as the potential terrorist that Dowd seems to be in the eyes of the White House.
In the same vein, under Goebbels and under Rove, only supporters of der Fuhrer und der president were/are allowed entrance to the big guy’s "public" appearances.
It’s possible you missed it, since the stories rarely were published outside of the places where the incidents occurred, but many times during the 2004 presidential campaign stories emerged on how Secret Service operatives, local cops and unidentified "security people" consulted what obviously were lists of people deemed undesirable by the administration and ripped tickets for Bush appearances out of the hands of such people. The same thing happened to anyone wearing a Kerry button, or a pro-choice button, or any one of a number of signals that the person in question was (gasp ) a liberal. Frequently such people were verbally abused and in some cases they were were physicall roughed up.
Recent reports say the same thing still is happening with Bush appearances. Only his supporters are allowed even to see him. You get a lot of cheering crowd footage on television that way, of course, and no footage of people looking unhappy, let alone carrying protest signs.
Important unanswered – in fact, unasked by the press – questions include: Who makes up the lists of undesirables? Who is on those lists? What are the criteria? Where does the information come from? Who has the lists? How else are they being used?
At some point, Hitler’s people used such lists to round up and disappear those deemed less than supportive of his regime.
Still another Goebbels trick used frequently by the Bush Gang is the manufactured crisis. We all know about the nonexistent weapons in Iraq, of course, but the scheme has been widely used in other ways, as well. Remember all those orange alerts during last fall’s campaign? How about the phony Social Security crisis? You undoubtedly can recall several others.
And here’s another: Corruption of "intelligence." Think about all the lies about what intelligence agencies "knew" about Iraq. There are lies about what they "know" now about Iran, about Syria.
The appointment of Negroponte certainly means a quantum jump in the use of false intelligence, and you can bet heavily on that. Under Hitler it was lies about the governments of Austria, and then Poland, and then France, and about what was going on with Russia, and the "worldwide Jewish conspiracy" and much more.
And yet another: Administration failures quickly disappear from public view. Remember Osama bin Laden? How long has it been since you heard his name from the lips of a Bush Gang member? Or on television, or seen it in a newspaper?
And to get to the lousiest part of the Nazi story: Goebbels was one of the main architects of the Nazi campaign to blame Jews for all of Germany’s ills and to murder them all.
The Bushies, of course, don’t run death camps – at least not within the borders of the United States, though it has been proven that they are transporting people to torture spots around the world. They aren’t murdering people by the thousands, unless you call a war created purely for political purposes murder, although there is evidence to suggest their torture and murder victims now number in the hundreds. (Sorry, squeamish folks, but these truths must be said in public.)
There is no question that the White House and its Congressional creepy-crawlies are fomenting hatred of certain populations, and using the victims as both scapegoats and distractions, just as the Nazis used the Jews. Will it get worse? I wouldn’t make a prediction, but will recall that the Nazi demonization of Jews and Gypsies started fairly slowly and then built momentum as resistance withered under the combination of propaganda and intimidation.
Hate literature attacking Arabs grows more common and gets more credence among the general public each day. A relative whose political views disgust me recently sent me an email that is widely circulated on the Internet these days, apparently in the belief that it would influence me to drop my liberal attitudes: In brief, it justifies "profiling" of people of Arab descent on the grounds of some evils that were, indeed, perpetrated by Arabs.
Of course, the events are spread over several decades, the writer ignores dozens of comparable events perpetrated by criminals of other ethnic backgrounds – by IRA members and Basques and Japanese cult members, for example – and fails to point out the greatly differing circumstances and motivations involved in different incidents.
Under Bush, there are several sets of scapegoats, however. "Welfare cheats" are ever popular, though specifics are rarely, if ever, presented. Immigrants – meaning mostly people of color – also are blamed for many of the country’s ills. In fact, racism is gaining ever more respectability under the subtle guidance of the Bushies. Gays, of course, are high on the list of Rove/Bush lists of undesirables – because "gay marriage" was such a useful campaign tool.
(It’s interesting that Bush and the people who immediately surround him don’t seem actually to personally hate gays, Arabs or any other specific groups except, perhaps, liberals. The truth is, they exhibit a total, sociopathic lack of human feeling for anybody other than themselves.)
For a while, I thought my disgust with and contempt for the Bush crowd might be leading me to conclusions that simply could not be true in these United States. So I kept turning over rocks and gagging at what I saw. I no longer think I’m inflating the dangers.
Yesterday evening, as I write this, I attended a small meeting of people who are concerned about peace and justice, here and abroad. They are people who opposed the invasion of Iraq, and who opposed Bush. I went because fellow liberal blogger Andy Driscoll was the speaker, and I wanted to meet him. (There is a link to his blog on the right side of this page.)
One of several things at that meeting that came as a slap of awareness was a brief statement by a woman whose German accent still is obvious, who said she spent her childhood and early youth in Germany as the Nazis gained power. The parallels between the Germany of the 1930s and the United States of today are unmistakable, she said. "I saw it, and I see what’s happening now. I am afraid."