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Donald Trump Is No Hitler, But He's A Dead Ringer For Adenoid Hynkel
When will commentators understand that he actually means what he says?
Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator (1940).
We all had a good horselaugh when Trump lawyer John Lauro said last weekend that when then-President Donald Trump asked then-Vice President Mike Pence to toss out legitimate electoral ballots and substitute phony ones “he asked him in an aspirational way,” and that likewise when Trump told Georgia’s secretary of state to “find 11,780 votes” that, too, was an “aspirational ask.” How absurd!
But no small part of the commentariat—David Von Drehle at the Washington Post, David Brooks at the New York Times, etc.—is similarly arguing that Trump just being Trump is not a crime—or anyway, not a crime that a jury will likely convict him of—because everybody knows Trump is a lowlife, that’s part of the deal, and anyway the meritocracy has a lot to answer for. But give me a break. The indictment names Donald Trump, not the Phi Beta Kappa Society or the Council on Foreign Relations. My latest New Republic piece calls out this hand-wringing and reiterates my longstanding distaste for creative explanations for what Trump means when he says something ghastly or tells a deliberate lie. Trump isn’t Adolf Hitler, but I’m ready to compare him to Adenoid Hynkel, the parodic Hitler that Charlie Chaplin portrayed in The Great Dictator, in the famous speech where Hynkel raves like a lunatic in mock-German as a polite commentator translates everything he says euphemistically. “Demotcrazie stunk!” translates to “Democracy is … fragrant” and so on. Anyway, you can read my piece here.
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