There are few rules in political propaganda, but there is a firm one that says ‘stay away from Hitler and Holocaust comparisons, because they will come back to haunt you.’ Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee broke that rule a couple of days ago, declaring that by presenting a deal with Iran that would preclude that country from developing a nuclear bomb in the next ten years President Obama is ‘walking the Israelis to the door of the oven.’ Under attack for that statement Huckabee doubled down, telling an interviewer that he’s been to Auschwitz three times and ‘knows exactly what that door looks like.’ In spite of the fact that he has visited Auschwitz more often than most Americans have been to Disneyworld, Huckabee apparently still doesn’t understand the extermination process that went on there, so a fourth visit might be in order. In Auschwitz, nobody walked to the door of the oven. Prisoners were forced into gas chambers where they were murdered, and subsequently their dead bodies were transported to the ovens. Huckabee may have confused the gas chambers with the ovens, or else he may have considered ‘gas chamber’ too harsh a word, and substituted it for the friendlier ‘oven.’ In the current GOP, both in congress and in the presidential campaign, anything is possible.
Although few Republicans have stooped to Huckabee’s level of immoral insanity, crazy runs high in the party, and the knives are out, not only for Democrats but also for their own. The initial response to the Iran deal by GOP senators and congressmen shows a disturbing ability to disregard reality and live in a DC version of Disneyland, where every wish can immediately be fulfilled. Republicans want ‘a better deal’ and even stricter sanctions imposed on Iran than are now still in place, ignoring the fact that the rest of the world won’t maintain its sanctions if the US rejects this deal, and that the US will be blamed for the failure to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions. They reject the testimony of the world’s most prominent nuclear scientists that twenty four days are not enough for Iran to erase traces of nuclear activity, which makes the agreement’s ‘verify before you trust’ approach an effective one, and thus exhibit more willful ignorance than they already did with climate change, when one of them brought a snowball into the senate chamber to dispute global warming. Most disturbingly, they seem to be either blind to or in full acceptance of the fact that the alternative to this agreement is military action by Israel and the US against Iran, which would lead to the third, and most destructive, war in the Middle East in this century.
Some commentators view Huckabee’s ‘door of the oven’ statement as just an attempt to get some attention by a candidate who has very low poll numbers, probably won’t make it to the Republican candidates’ debates, and sees future income from book deals, radio and TV shows and speaking fees threatened. Oftentimes the outrageous statements by frontrunner Donald Trump about Mexican immigrants are seen as the reason why his competitors are trying to do him one better.
There is undoubtedly some truth to that, but it tells not even half of the story. The mixture of Tea Party ideology, birtherism, science denial and evangelical ‘morality’ has made the GOP electorate considerably dumber in the last fifteen years, and the debilitating effects of that process are now showing at the party’s top.
In spite of the fact, however, that the Republican Party has an interest in moving Americans from dumb to dumber, which is evidenced by GOP education policies, a majority of the general population is slowly getting smarter, and in 2016 will pass a test that the Republican electorate will flunk miserably.