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Oops: Going for an insult, Gingrich unwittingly calls Obama a Nazi-fighter

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, February 23, 2010 22:19 EDT
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President Obama is a man of the people, bravely working against a tyrannical dictatorship to help throw off the chains of Nazi oppression … And that’s according to former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who mistakenly called Obama a Nazi fighter while trying to hang a thread of socialism from his neck during a recent appearance on Fox News.

Asked by right-wing personality Bill O’Reilly whether he believes Obama has some kind of ideological connection to former Cuba Dictator Fidel Castro, Gingrich seemingly chastised the host.

“You just took a big leap,” Gingrich said. “Fidel Castro is a totalitarian communist. I don’t believe that President Obama is in any way like Fidel Castro. But I do believe he is exactly in the tradition of the French Socialists or the Italian Socialists or the German Socialists. I think he’d have been very comfortable in the Social Democratic Party in Germany. I think he would have been very comfortable in the pre-Tony Blair Labor Party in Great Britain. I think he represents a strain of left-wing big government. Government is smart. You’re stupid. Government should decide everything. You’re not capable of it.

“And let’s look at his policies. Listen to his rhetoric. This is somebody who really does believe that if you’re in private enterprise and you go out and you work hard, you’re somehow doing bad things.”

It is ironic, then, that Gingrich would label his principle political opposition a spiritual successor to the German Social Democrats, for they were Nazi Germany’s resistance before and during the war.

“The Social Democrats were the main source of opposition to Hitler at a time when the Communists were bizarrely maintaining that there was no difference between the two and the mainstream parties of the center-right decided that it made sense to form a tactical alliance with Hitler,” scowled Matt Yglesias, blogging at Think Progress. “Social Democrats stand for a generous welfare state and active labor market policies. Nazis try to conquer the world and send people to the gas chamber.”

In recent weeks, O’Reilly has pushed back against the tendency to call Obama a socialist or communist, which he feels oversimplifies the president’s politics. A recent Research 2000 poll, conducted for liberal blogging site DailyKos, found that a full 63 percent of Republicans believe President Obama is a socialist.

Socialism, as defined by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, is “any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.”

In contrast, Kurt Vonnegut, the deceased American novelist and renowned humanist, once wrote that “Socialism is no more an evil word than Christianity.”

“Socialism,” Vonnegut explained in A Man Without A Country, “no more prescribed Joseph Stalin and his secret police and shuttered churches than Christianity prescribed the Spanish Inquisition. Christianity and socialism alike, in fact, prescribe a society dedicated to the proposition that all men, women, and children are created equal and shall not starve.”

In spite of recent polling that shows Americans’ fondness for capitalism fading fast, no polls have yet to ask what the participants’ understanding of socialism is. According to Rasmussen, while just 53 percent say they hold fast to capitalism, 20 percent believe greater threads of socialism would be helpful. Remove members of the investment class from the sample group that supports capitalism and just 40 percent say they are still behind America’s entrenched economic system.

“So while so many conservatives have tried to tie Obama and his policies to Hitler, Gingrich is now admitting that Obama would have been been on the front lines in fighting against fascism,” Think Progress concluded.

Gingrich has said he is considering a run for the presidency in 2012. In a Nov. 2009 Gallup poll, Gingrich placed fourth among likely GOP 2012 candidates, behind Sarah Palin (third), Mitt Romney (second) and Mike Huckabee (first).

This video was broadcast by Fox News on Feb. 22, 2010.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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