Marc Thiessen would like everyone in politics to please stop comparing their opponents to Nazis. Or rather, he would like everyone to stop evoking comparisons to Nazis, as the two politicians he calls out in his latest Washington Post column never actually said “Nazi” or “Hitler.” It’s not a very surprising or notable argument, really, especially from Marc Thiessen, whose continued participation in public life is dependent on enforcing a particular standard of “civility” in our political discourse.
Thiessen is annoyed that John Kasich produced a video ad calling Donald Trump a fascist, merely because Trump is attempting to exploit the societal and economic unease felt by a nation’s ethnic majority and funnel their anger at various ethnic out-groups and imagined internal enemies. Thiessen is also annoyed that Hillary Clinton said Republicans wanted to “‘go and literally pull [illegal immigrants] out of their homes and their workplaces’ and ‘round them up’ and put them in ‘boxcars.’” After all, while it may be true that the current frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination does literally support rounding up millions of immigrants (from places presumably including homes and businesses) and deporting them, we don’t yet know what sort of vehicles Trump proposes to use for transporting them.
As Thiessen says:
Here’s a little advice for Kasich, Hillary Clinton and any other candidate who wants to follow them down into the fever swamp of Nazi analogies: Don’t.
And I’m sure everyone’s grateful for the advice.
A question Thiessen doesn’t answer, though, is why a mainstream Beltway lifer establishment Republican like him would go to bat for someone like Trump against someone like John Kasich.
A quick about the author: Marc Thiessen spent six years, early in his long Washington career, as spokesman for and senior advisor to Senator Jesse Helms, a white supremacist whose political career was launched, and maintained, with an unrelenting opposition to recognizing the civil rights of black Americans and an unrepentant willingness to stoke white racial resentment for his own gain.
Thiessen went on to work in the George W. Bush administration, as speechwriter first for Donald Rumsfeld and then for the president. In his capacity as a speechwriter, and afterwards, as an author, Thiessen justified and defended the C.I.A.’s torture program. His book on the subject, “Courting Disaster,” has been described by Jane Mayer as “the unofficial Bible of torture apologists.” Mayer also describes Thiessen’s book as full of omissions, distortions, and outright lies. Though even if it had been fully accurate and honest, it would still have been a book defending the use of torture.
Marc Thiessen has been a paid propagandist for a powerful anti-black racist and for a government that had a policy of torturing captured enemy combatants. It is uncivil, but factually true, to say that Thiessen has built his career on justifying actions by a government, and people in that government, that deservedly invite comparison to acts committed by the worst regimes in the history of world affairs. The point of such comparisons is, in part, to prevent the future ascension to positions of power of the sorts of people who would use that power in such barbarous and brutal ways. In a nation that sincerely and forcefully believed in liberty and justice, a man with Thiessen’s record would be a pariah. Instead, he has an opinion column at the premier newspaper of America’s capital city.
Always remember that certain people in politics call for “civil discourse” because they want to ensure that their own atrocious actions are only referred to euphemistically.