In my correspondence with Boris about Barone’s column about rich Democrats, I expressed surprise at Barone’s statement that “Patriotism is equated with Hitlerism” (among leftists). Boris referred me to this article by Victor Davis Hanson which indeed has examples of leftists (and even moderate Democrats like John Glenn) comparing Bush to the Nazis.
But aren’t the Democrats just following the lead of the Clinton-haters in the 1990s? Hansen says no:
The flood of the Hitler similes is also a sign of the extremism of the times. If there was an era when the extreme Right was more likely to slander a liberal as a communist than a leftist was to smear a conservative as a fascist, those days are long past. True, Bill Clinton brought the deductive haters out of the woodwork, but for all their cruel caricature, few compared him to a mass-murdering Mao or Stalin for his embrace of tax hikes and more government. “Slick Willie” was not quite “Adolf Hitler” or “Joseph Stalin.”
Hmmm . . . this got me curious, so I followed Hansen’s tip and did some Google searches:
bush hitler: 1.5 million
clinton hitler: 0.7 million
What about some other comparisons?
bush god: 8.6 million
clinton god: 3.4 million
So Bush is both more loved and hated than Clinton, perhaps. But then again, there’s been a huge growth in the internet in the past few years, so maybe more Bush than Clinton for purely topical reasons?
bush: 83 million
clinton: 25 million
Hmm, let’s try something completely unrelated to politics:
bush giraffe: 180,000
clinton giraffe: 23,000
OK, maybe not a good comparison, since giraffes live in the bush. Let’s try something that’s associated with Clinton but not with Bush:
bush mcdonalds: 440,000
clinton mcdonalds: 200,000
At this point, I’m getting the clear impression that Bush is getting more hits than Clinton on just about everything! So no evidence here that he’s being Hitlerized more than Clinton was. It looks like the big number for “bush hitler” is more of an artifact of the spread of the web. [Place disclaimers here about the use of Google as a very crude research tool!]
This certainly doesn’t invalidate, or even argue against, Hansen’s main points. It just suggests that we should be similarly concerned about haters on the other side.
OK, I guess that’s enough on this topic . . . maybe a good example for statistics teaching, though? Googlefighting as data analysis? Perhaps Cynthia Dwork, David Madigan, or some other student of web rankings can come up with more sophisticated analyses.
P.S. Update with discussion here.