28 May 2006

And so it begins.

In the year prior to the 2004 presidential election, MoveOn.org invited the public to submit their own 30-second video commercials to the organization, showing why they felt George W. Bush was not the best person for the job.

Of the submissions, MoveOn would choose one for broadcast on national television in select markets. In the meantime, all the submissions – and there were hundreds -- would be available for download and viewing at the MoveOn.Org Website.

One of the submissions sent to MoveOn compared Bush to Hitler.

MoveOn pulled the submission as soon as it was aware of it, citing its inappropriateness in a presidential election and the inherent wrongness of comparing anyone to Adolf Hitler.

But some right wingers had seen it – and the very existence single, never-aired, quickly disappeared, 30-second homemade spot was used to smear MoveOn and all Democrats in general, tainting the entire Democratic Party campaign.

Fast forward:

On Tuesday, May 23, Sterling Burnett – a senior fellow at the Exxon-backed National Center for Policy Analysis – was on Fox News. Burnett compared Al Gore to Nazi propagandist Joseph Geobbels because of Gore’s just-released movie about global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

“That’s the problem. If I thought Al Gore’s movie was as you like to say, fair and balanced, I’d say, everyone should go see it. But why go see propaganda? You don’t go see Joseph Goebbels’ films to see the truth about Nazi Germany. You don’t go see Al Gore’s films to see the truth about global warming.”

Exxon Mobile cannot rebut the information in Gore’s film with facts, but they can pay to have the filmmaker smeared. Burnett didn’t disclose the fact that he defended former Exxon CEO Lee Raymond’s over-the-top compensation (which amounted to $190,000 per day in 2005, according to Think Progress) in an editorial in the Examiner on April 26. Nor did he mention that the National Center for Policy Analysis has received $390,000 from ExxonMobile since 1998.

Nevertheless, the hundreds of thousands of Americans who watch Fox News each day (despite the news program’s declining viewership) for their news got the message, loud and clear. Gore=Goebbels.

Fast forward a little more:

In the Washington Post magazine this weekend, in a story by Joel Achenbach about global warming skeptics, meteorologist Bill Gray – one of the most prominent climate skeptics – compared Gore to Hitler.

“Gore believed in global warming almost as much as Hitler believed there was something wrong with the Jews.”

It is, of course, a ridiculous statement. I believe I’ll be eating dinner tonight almost as much as Hitler believed there was something wrong with Jews, too. And it’s likely that Gray believes in his own dinner -- and even the type of underwear he’s wearing -- just as fervently.

Achenbach’s Washington Post magazine article is well done, and he opined himself in the story that Gray’s statement was “incendiary.” But that quote will certainly be pulled out of context by the right wing and displayed everywhere. It doesn’t matter if the statement is silly – what matters is that Gray managed to put Gore and Hitler into the same sentence, in print, and compare them. Gore=Hitler.

The re-smearing of Vice President Al Gore has begun.

The rapid, vicious response of the right wing to Gore’s movie and his sudden reappearance in the public eye is telling.

They’re running scared.

Gore was one of very, very few prominent Democrats who opposed the war against Iraq from the beginning. In a long series of speeches all over the country between 2000 and today, Gore predicted the disasters so many of us saw and still see clearly looming. And, unlike his peers still holding public office – the ones who could have done something about it, and still could, if they could find some guts – Gore has articulated his concern in no uncertain terms.

In September 2002, in a speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, Gore laid the truth about the Iraq war out for all who would listen – which at the time, turned out to be almost no one.

“The foreshortening of deliberation in the Congress robs the country of the time it needs for careful analysis of what may lie before it. Such consideration is all the more important because of the Administration's failure thus far to lay out an assessment of how it thinks the course of a war will run - - even while it has given free run to persons both within and close to the administration to suggest that this will be an easy conquest. Neither has the Administration said much to clarify its idea of what is to follow regime change or of the degree of engagement it is prepared to accept for the United States in Iraq in the months and years after a regime change has taken place. By shifting from his early focus after September 11th on war against terrorism to war against Iraq, the President has manifestly disposed of the sympathy, good will and solidarity compiled by America and transformed it into a sense of deep misgiving and even hostility. In just one year, the President has somehow squandered the international outpouring of sympathy, goodwill and solidarity that followed the attacks of September 11th and converted it into anger and apprehension aimed much more at the United States than at the terrorist network - - much as we manage to squander in one year's time the largest budget surpluses in history and convert them into massive fiscal deficits.”

He was right.

Gore says he isn’t planning to run for president in 2008. This early in the process, that’s commonly what potential candidates say as they size up their chances. They don’t want to say too much, yet, and give the other side time to stockpile ammunition against them or even declare “pre-emptive war.”

In Gore's case, as in Hillary Clinton's, the long knives are already out.

Nevertheless, you can be sure that the GOP is very, very afraid that should Al Gore decide to run again for president in 2008, he’ll win. And this time, it will be by such a wide margin there will be no way to steal or even question his victory.

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