09/01/2005: Thought for the Day:
A little history is a dangerous thing, and George W. Bush has been sipping from its well all too skimpily. Last week, in an effort to put a positive spin on the breakdown of Iraq's constitutional assembly, the president noted that Federalist America went through a decade of turbulence before completing its own constitution—a dreadful analogy, in part because the two situations are so radically different, but more because, if the comparison were apt, it would imply that Iraq will be a cauldron of blood and chaos for many decades to come.
Now, President Bush is going further—this time, gulping more than anyone should have to swallow—likening the nature, scope, and stakes of America's battle in Iraq to those of World War II.
He made the comparison in a speech at San Diego's Naval Air Station on Aug. 30 to mark the 60th anniversary of V-J Day. In a sense, this is what presidents are supposed to do on such occasions—draw links between the heroes of "the greatest generation" and the men and women of the U.S. armed forces who are fighting for freedom today. But Bush took the analogy beyond the demands of protocol. The clear claims of this speech: Bin Laden and Zarqawi = Hitler and Mussolini. Terrorists = Nazis. Suicide bombers = kamikaze pilots. 1930s isolationists = Clinton-era Democrats. Franklin D. Roosevelt's determination to spread democracy across the globe = ... (could it be?) Bush's own freedom-spreading policies.
As with his constitutional comparison, it's a tossup which aspect of this rhetorical game is more egregious: the fact that the two wars are so vastly different in nearly every way imaginable, or the fact that, if they were as similar as President Bush proclaims, he is doing so remarkably little to wage this one.
Len on 09.01.05 @ 06:06 AM CST