It's healthy to question the adulation of public figures. But as creepy as certain adherents of the Obama cause can be, they're more than matched by archconservatives who see "fascism" in every kitsch rendering of the Illinois senator in his many pieces of campaign paraphernelia. Latest case in point: Dr. Melissa Clouthier, a chiropractor turned blogger for Right Wing News and her own Information Pollination. Featured is a screen capture of an entry now up at her site in which she compares a poster heralding Obama's Berlin appearance to a Hitler propaganda image. See, both men are shown in profile (danger!), and both can now be associated with Berlin's Siegessäule, or Victory Column: the Fuhrer had it moved to its present spot to mark the capital of his envisioned Greater Germany, and under its famed golden statue is where Obama will make his Teutonic debut (scandal!).

What's so ironic about the "liberal fascism'" trope advanced by Jonah Goldberg and on display at Couthier's address is the origin of the term. Stalinists coined it in the pre-Popular Front era of the 1930's as a way of grouping European social democrats (also called "social fascists") with Nazis. Both were viewed by the Kremlin as partners in the same expiring capitalist system, and it wasn't until the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact that the whole pox-on-both-your-houses farce was dropped. Before then, Reds in the Reichstag were complacent about National Socialism. "After Hitler, Our Turn" was their strategy; it kept them from forming a viable bloc with Social Dems that might have stopped the real fascist's parliamentary rise to power.

So Goldberg, et al., whether they realize it or not, are trafficking in one of the oldest and sorriest Communist smears of liberals. That's especially rich because the best conservative thinkers deplore just this sort of moral equivalence. Isn't it supposed to be a mainstay of the hysterical left to use the f-word to silence the opposition?

You can argue with the myopia (or ignorance) of Obama's campaign advisers in choosing another historically charged setting for a mass rally. Siegessäule is the omega to Brandenburg Gate's alpha, and it too has caused a few hiccups among German politicians with long memories. But that's as far as any sane logic should ever go.

[Melissa Clouthier]

[Via Matt Yglesias]