What would a columnist say if he were assigned to hype a hypothetical cage match between Hitler and George W. Bush? Could he add a new point that hasn't been made previously?
Obviously the public is weary of being reminded of the most apparent salient points such as:
Hitler won his country's top military honor in battle; George W wasn't it combat.
Hitler wrote a book that sold widely; George W's book may have been ghost written.
Hitler was a mesmerizing public speaker; George W inspired yawns.
George W. Bush would have to be declared more cunning and conniving than the German who precipitated the Second World War and if you are living in a country going to war, that's the kind of guy best suited for the driver's seat.
Hitler took extensive measures to make sure that his people were unaware that he and his men were committing war crimes. Folks were fearful that bad things would happen to the people who were interrogated by the Geheime Staatspolitzi (AKA Ge-sta-po) but they never knew for sure what the specifics were. Thus when the details were revealed during the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials, citizens of Germany were genuinely shocked and ashamed to learn what their leader had done in their name.
Hitler didn't involve the citizens of his country as co-conspirators in his war crimes.
George W. Bush's diabolical game plan included the 2003 revelation of complete details for his method of questioning terrorism suspects and after those questioning methods were made public there were very few voices raised in opposition. Thus if (trolls please note the use of the subjunctive mood here) Bush committed any war crimes by using waterboarding and other harsh measures, the citizens of the United States would have to be considered as possible accessories during and after the fact.
Hitler wasn't included in the list of defendants at Nuremburg. He was not even listed as a defendant being tried in absentia. His team did stand in the prisoners docket and it became obvious during the Nuremburg trials that most of the German citizens were just as shocked and surprised by the offences as was the rest of the world.
Bush's use of waterboarding may have helped enliven some barroom debates, but it never spurred any serious denunciations from the country's mass media, the country's clergy, nor even much of the citizenry.
By enlisting the country as accessories to his methodology, George W. Bush insured himself against any serious threat that he would ever face any legal consequences in his own country's judicial system. His defense would have to be: "Sorry, we goofed!" Any guilty verdict would have to be tantamount to saying: "We sure did!" and that's not a bloody well likely scenario in a country that portrays itself as "the Goodguys" (and we don't mean hippies who scored the famous WMCA T-shirt in the Sixties).
Statistically Germany is a Catholic country and maybe der Fuhrur knew that he couldn't intimidate the Pope (Pius XII) into giving his imprimatur to the torture, so he kept it hidden, but future dictators (and Presidents) have learned from Bush; if a country is going to sin it is best they do so openly without any hint of an admission of guilt or shame.
Imagine, if you will, that legendary aviatrix Hanna Reitsch had managed to take Germany's chancellor with her when she made her legendary escape from Berlin in an Arado 96 airplane as the war came to an end. Can you envision that it's two or three years later and you spot a billboard in Berlin during the airlift portraying the former leader (Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz was named as the successor) with the caption: "Do you miss me yet?" Obviously it would be in German and use the Schwaben style font.
To put things in their proper perspective just imagine that sometime in 1955 Huntley or Brinkley traveled to Germany and got an exclusive interview with the retired dictator on his ranch in Bavaria and that he smirked and tossed off a line about "I consulted the best legal minds available before sanctioning the waterboarding." That hypothetical scoop will give readers a fair idea of which of the two was a better con man. It should be a gimme to see that Bush is much more devious and treacherous than the vegetarian (who distained smoking) could ever hope to have been. Only one of them connived to include all citizens as accessories to their torture program.
Neither Hitler nor Bush have ever been charged with (let alone convicted of) war crimes in court, so it seems that unless such a hypothetical grudge match could actually be held, their respective fans will (like the continuing sixties debate: Beatles or Stones) have something to debate every time they meet.
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