NYT Magazine: Is McConnell Like Nazi Appeasers to Hitler?

January 23rd, 2019 6:01 PM

When you think of Mitch McConnell, you think of Nazi appeasers, right? If you’re a New York Times journalist, maybe so. In an enormous, 26 page piece for the January 27th Sunday Magazine, journalist Charles Homans psychoanalyzed the Senate Majority Leader’s relationship with Donald Trump. 

The headline darkly warned, “Mitch McConnell Got Everything He Wanted. But at What Cost?” (The Times headline writers seem to ask you to draw the obvious conclusion.)  If that wasn’t enough, buried on page 20 of this mammoth story comes the Nazi comparison. Except, this time, McConnell is a Nazi sympathizer who allows Hitler to come to power. 

Homans read from a nasty New York Review of Books piece in which historian Charles R. Browning smears the Senate Majority Leader. The journalist approvingly cited: 

After the Kavanaugh confirmation, Christopher R. Browning, the eminent historian of Nazi Germany, wrote an essay for The New York Review of Books revisiting the story of Paul von Hindenburg, the feckless German president of the Weimar era. In an effort to shore up his faltering conservative coalition, and contain the German left, Hindenburg allied with and installed as chancellor Adolf Hitler, a man he considered a lunatic but a manageable one. “If the U.S. has someone whom historians will look back on as the gravedigger of American democracy” as von Hindenburg was to the Weimar Republic, Browning wrote, “it is Mitch McConnell. ... Like Hitler’s conservative allies, McConnell and the Republicans have prided themselves on the early returns on their investment in Trump.” It was the eternal pragmatist’s delusion: The assumption that politics ultimately belongs to them, and not to the demagogues and revolutionaries who so often pull them along in their wake.        

Starting sentences about 2019 American politicians with phrases such as “like Hitler’s conservative allies” is typical of The Times. This is the same paper that in 2017 wrote about Soviet Communists and used the term “hard-line conservatives.” 

Talking to Homans, a former writer for the New Republic, McConnell dismissed this Nazi comparison as “nonsense.” 

“I think to expect Republican elected officials not to try to achieve as much as they possibly can, that they’ve always been for, out of pique over presidential behavior, is nonsense,” McConnell said when I read him what Browning had written.

McConnell scolded Homans, saying, “I think my responsibility as the majority leader of the Senate, in a Republican administration, is to achieve as much as I can for the American people along the lines that I’ve believed in my entire life.” 

The Times writer bristled, “That, of course, had been Browning’s point; setting aside the particulars of the comparison.” Setting aside the particulars? Of a Nazi comparison? 

Homans concluded by making it clear that the costs of Trump aren’t worth the successes. 

A belief that the system was, ultimately, self-correcting. Whatever Trump had unleashed in the Republican Party, its damages would be visited upon the party, not the country, and they would be temporary. The demagogues would burn themselves out, and the pragmatists would rebuild upon the ashes.

Generally, New York Times journalists aren’t the best guides when it comes to caring for the health and success of conservatism. One probably shouldn't take advice from them.