Extreme? The press is all too willing to ignore something Santorum said ... and this image is a perfect representation of exactly that.

It’s time for a quick comprehension quiz. Read the following and answer by multiple choice. Don’t worry, you only need a seventh-grader’s comprehension of history and reading:

1) Analogies
I’m giving a speech on the challenges facing our country today, and I am running for president.

I begin by comparing the current political climate to America just before WWII, talking about how American citizens did almost nothing to stop the fall of Europe to fascist rule because Americans are a “hopeful people” who didn’t immediately realize just how dire the threat was. I describe the attitude this way:

“We think, ‘Well, you know, he’ll get better. You know, he’s a nice guy. I mean, it won’t be near as bad as what we think. This will be OK.’ Oh yeah, maybe he’s not the best guy, and after a while, you found out things about this guy over in Europe, and he’s not so good of a guy after all.”

In this analogy, I am comparing:
a) Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler
b) Myself to Adolf Hitler
c) The audience to appeasers of Adolf Hitler, and by extension to “appeasers” of Barack Obama
d) A and B.
e) None of the above.

The correct answer is, obviously, A. While technically D is also true, it relies on an implicit understanding of A. Simple, right?

Not so much. The supposedly “liberal” media has all but failed to parse this simple analogy. It’s author? Rick Santorum.

Imagine the firestorm that would have erupted if any of the Democratic challengers to George W. Bush had even hinted at the idea that a connection could be made to their efforts to unseat the president and stopping Hitler. If Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton had been stupid enough to engage in such outrageous rhetoric, the would rightly be vilified and their campaigns would come to an abrupt and permanent stop.

Not so with Santorum.

The press seems satisfied with a simple “no” answer here, and is completely ignoring what was actually said by Santorum. A Google search for News items referencing “Santorum, Hitler” shows how little traction this is getting. A few passing references, usually framed as a “did he?” question, a few stories that he denied the analogy, and it’s back to the business of sports-style “who’s on top?” reporting.

This is outrageous.

Before moving on, watch the actual speech by Santorum. It’s extremely hard to make the case that he is talking about anything else. To paraphrase Ed Shultz of MSNBC’s “The Ed Show,” perhaps Santorum at least needs to explain to the American people who he is IS referring to as a bad guy Americans ignored for as long as they could before WWII. Of course Santorum could never do this, because the reference and the implications are obvious to anyone who looks at the clip:

 
Why is the media ignoring this?

One thought is that the MSM is becoming squeamish when it comes to truly outrageous or ugly comments by candidates. I’ve covered a similar blind spot when John McCain objected to repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” because “we have soldiers with no legs.

Basically, media outlets fear a backlash for seeming to editorialize outrageous statements by simply reporting them. This isn’t something I made up; the New York Times famously asked its readers if they should even bother parsing candidates’ comments, as if understanding objective truths (or in this case, objective interpretations) is somehow a “soft” goal that should be approached with some caution in order to not appear “biased.” The title of the piece is instructive: “Should The Times Be a Truth Vigilante?”

So: just reporting something is now being a vigilante? I’m old enough to remember when it was just called “reporting.”

There is another possibility: Godin’s Law.

Applied to the Tea Party and the far-right wing of the Republican Party, it would be only a matter of time before a candidate for America’s highest office would use a Hilter analagy to describe a sitting president. Santorum’s previous extreme rhetoric also seems to be a factor, and even he used it as an excuse — essentially saying “hey, I do this all the time,” which, it turns out, he does.

But whatever the reason — whether fear of seeming biased or not seeing the reason why THIS particular extreme opinion of Santorum’s needs to be understood, discussed and not ignored — the MSM has essentially failed here.

It is outrageous and completely outside the bounds of acceptable discourse to imply the president is somehow “another Hitler.” It is even MORE outrageous that a front-runner for the same office can say PRECISELY that and get away with it.

If the press could be sued for malpractice, this outrage qualifies. In a rational world, Santorum would have already left the race in disgrace. That world would be one where the press actually did its JOB.

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