WashPost Plays the Hitler Card Again — In a House Editorial

The Washington Post's obsession over Donald Trump is a sight to behold — but not a pretty one.

On Monday, following two week-earlier Trump-demonizing columns, one comparing the billionaire to medieval emperor Charlemagne, and another claiming that Trump's electoral progress thus far had helped her understand "exactly how Hitler could have come to power in Germany," the Post issued a house editorial directly comparing Trump's "assault on democracy" to Hitler's rise to power. In other words, last week's columns were merely appetizers for the paper's institutional assertion that, as far as they're concerned, the "authoritarian" Trump should be rejected because of the likelihood that once in power, he will become another monster like Hitler — or, if we're lucky, only as bad as one of the world's current thug rulers.

On February 22, Tim Graham at NewsBusters observed how Post "Acts of Faith" writer Joseph Loconte had compared Trump to medieval emperor Charlemagne, who "In 782, in the Massacre of Verden ... ordered the execution of 4,500 prisoners, apparently for their refusal to convert to Christianity."

I posted later that day about a Post op-ed by Harvard political theorist Danielle Allen, who wrote that Trump's early progress towards winning the Republican Party's presidential nomination had helped her understand "exactly how Hitler could have come to power in Germany." Allen used a passive-aggressive approach. First she wrote that we should "Leave aside whether a direct comparison of Trump to Hitler is accurate." Then she claimed that Trump was showing "how a demagogic opportunist can exploit a divided country." I questioned how someone whose expertise is allegedly in "ethics" could ethically "compare a living person who has become wealthy as a successful businessperson but who may have questionable and inconsistent political positions to someone who was responsible for a world war and eliminated millions of people strictly because they were Jews."

The Post's Monday house editorial attempted to make the Trump-Hitler connection more directly (HT to the Washington Examiner via Ed Driscoll at Instapundit; bolds are mine):

Voters shouldn’t reward Trump’s assault on democracy

SOME READERS ask how Donald Trump can be a threat to democracy if he is putting himself forward as a candidate. If he ends up attracting a majority of American voters, what could be more democratic?

First, you don’t have to go back to history’s most famous example, Adolf Hitler, to understand that authoritarian rulers can achieve power through the ballot box. In the world today, it has become almost commonplace for elected leaders to lock the door behind them once they achieve power. Vladi­mir Putin in Russia, Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey — all found ways once in power to restrict opposition, muzzle the media and erode checks and balances.

Stop. Right. There.

The breathtakingly sloppy Post disingenuously leads readers to believe that Hitler won an election to become Germany's chancellor and achieve executive power, especially because the three best-known men of the other four mentioned in that sentence first achieved power through elections. That's not so. (Museveni also didn't; he first achieved power through military victory).

Hitler became German chancellor on January 30, 1933, when, after months of pressure, German President Paul von Hindenburg appointed him to that position. Within a month, "the Reichstag Fire Decree ... effectively suspended all civil liberties in Germany."

The Post's editorial writers might claim that "through the ballot box" is a sufficiently vague term justifiably used to describe what happened in Germany before that appointment. No it's not. The facts are that:

  • "In the runoff election of April 1932, Hindenburg defeated Hitler for the presidency."
  • In July 1932, the Nazi party won "a solid plurality of seats in the Reichstag." A plurality is not a majority — and the Post's reference to Trump possibly winning a majority of U.S. general-election votes this year clearly carried into its implications concerning how Hitler came to power.
  • In the November 1932 Reichstag elections, the Nazi party lost votes.
  • As noted, Hitler was appointed chancellor in January 1933. Although the pressure on the 85 year-old Hindenburg to do so was intense, he didn't have to do it.

The Post is being fundamentally dishonest with its readers when it claims that Hitler was able to "achieve power through the ballot box," strongly implying — and surely convincing many who don't know the true history — that he did so only based on the majority vote of the German people.

One commenter at the editorial made another key point:

... the United States is NOT a "democracy." That form of government is more-similar to a parliamentary form of government, not a representative-form like we have. That's why we pledge allegiance to the flag of " the REPUBLIC for which it stands."

So the entire premise of the editorial has been blown to bits, thanks to its writers' utter ignorance of history and their fundamental misunderstanding of how the United States government is structured. You can't make this stuff up.

But, like the fictional John Blutarsky in Animal House, who referred to how "the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor," the Post was on a roll, and wasn't about to stop because of trifling matters like historical and civic ignorance:

Mr. Trump gives ample reason to fear that he would not respect traditional limits on executive authority.

O ... M ... G. Considering what this nation has had to endure since January 21, 2009, this garbage is more than anyone should have to bear.

I'll let some of the other commenters at the Post's editorial help me out here:

  • "For the last 7 years we have had a president who has refused to enforce laws he doesn't like and even some that he does (e.g., obamacare). The Post has effectively yawned at that lawlessness and, as a result, it has no credibility when it levels accusations against Trump."
  • "... after 7 years of Obama it's kind of odd that the WaPo would suddenly become concerned about the democratic process."
  • "The Board's protestations might be more interesting and believable if they had squawked a bit about Mr. Obama's many overreaches."
  • "My goodness editorial board...where have you been for the last 8 years when talking about democracy and law? Obama has steppped all over the constiution, lied numerous times, you are now backing a lying lawbreaking woman who has put the national security at risk ..."

Just one more sentence from the editorial, and I'll spare readers further pain:

But even Mr. Trump’s campaign is an assault on democratic values.

Barack Obama's 2012 reelection campaign was "an assault on democratic values." Just ask all of those targeted by the IRS for having the nerve to be involved with conservative, tea party, pro-Israel, pro-family, or pro-life groups. Ask the families of the four people killed in Benghazi whose deaths were falsely, systematically and knowingly framed for weeks as having occurred because of "an Internet video" solely to protect Obama's reelection effort. Those two points only scratch the surface of the irregularities and manipulations seen in the two years before the 2012 presidential election.

And where was the Post's supposedly vigilant editorial board as all of this happened?  Why, they were endorsing Obama's reelection.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.