Category Archive 'Opportunism'

17 Feb 2014

Who Would Be a Good Nazi?

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Dorothy Thompson, back in August of 1941, published an article in Harper’s discussing the susceptibility of various types of person to succumbing to the influence of fashion, of conformity, of opportunism, and to the appeal of the mass movement.

It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis.

Wikipedia article on Dorothy Thompson.

Those of us in the Baby Boom generation who lived through the time of the Anti-Vietnam War Movement saw plenty of the kinds of joiners Dorothy Thompson describes.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

05 Aug 2008

Starting to List to the Starboard

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Lower in the water and tipping toward the starboard

Alex Castellanos, at HuffPo, admires Obama’s luck, but notes that he does have grave vulnerabilities.

Grave enough that, despite Ted Stevens and a triumphant European vacation, Obama’s sinking poll numbers are making headlines.

The best campaign against Barack Obama is not being run by his opponent, but by Barack Obama. It is Obama’s campaign that presents their candidate as an ever-changing work-in-progress. It is his own campaign that occludes our ability to know this man, depicting him as authentic as a pair of designer jeans.

To earn the Democratic nomination, as Fred Thompson points out, Obama ran as George McGovern without the experience, a left-of-center politician who would meet unconditionally with Iran, pull us precipitously out of Iraq, prohibit new drilling for oil, and grow big government in Washington by all but a trillion dollars. In his general election TV ad debut, however, Obama pirouetted like Baryshnikov. With a commercial Mike Huckabee could have run in a Republican primary, Obama now emphasizes his commitment to strong families and heartland values, “Accountability and self-reliance. Love of country. Working hard without making excuses.” In this yet unwritten chapter of his next autobiography, Obama tells us he is the candidate of “welfare to work” who supports our troops and “cut taxes for working families.” The shift in his political personae has been startling. Obama has moved right so far and so fast, he could end up McCain’s Vice-Presidential pick.

General-election Obama now billboards his doubts about affirmative action. He has embraced the Bush Doctrine of pre-emption saying, “I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon…everything.” He tells his party “Democrats are not for a bigger government.” Oil drilling is a consideration. His FISA vote and abandonment of public campaign finance introduce us to an Obama of recent invention. And as he abandons his old identity for the new, breeding disenchantment among his formerly passionate left-of-center supporters and, equally, doubts among the center he courts, he risks becoming nothing at all, a candidate who is everything and nothing in the same moment.

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