Josif Vissarionovich Biden?

Limbaugh compares Senate Democrats to Stalin. Cheney approves.

Let’s take two principles beloved of conservatarians:

1. Comparing your political opponents to Hitler without very good reason is wrong.

2. Stalin was as bad as Hitler.

Taking those as premises, I can’t think of any reasoned basis on which to defend Rush Limbaugh for asserting that Senate Democrats were acting like “Stalinists” in refusing to confirm a nominee for Ambassador to Belgium whose main qualifications were raising $200,000 for the Bush campaign and bankrolling the Swift Boat operation. Nor is it easy to find an excuse for Dick Cheney’s eager agreement.

Here’s the dialogue, per Obsidian Wings full transcript here:

LIMBAUGH: This is the kind of move that garners a lot of support from the people in the country. This shows the administration willing to engage these people and not allow them to get away with this kind of — well, my term — you don’t have to accept it — Stalinist behavior from these people on that committee.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, you’re dead on, Rush.

I’ve checked my dictionary for definitions of “Stalinism,” and can’t find “Blocking your opponents’ sleazy political maneuvers” among them.

I hear there’s a budget deficit. Nothing in the Constitution requires that the Vice President have a staff. Appropriators, take notice.

Update I’m pleased to see that Eugene Volokh agrees with me, and that Glenn Reynolds agrees with Eugene. Why Glenn decided to mention Limbaugh and not Cheney is left as an exercise for the reader. And it seems to me that Glenn would have used a stronger phrase than “rather silly” if Harry Reid had agreed with someone who called George W. Bush a Nazi. (And yes, I’m just a trifle annoyed that I cited Hilzoy, who caught the story in the first place, and Eugene cited Hilzoy and me, but Reynolds cited only Eugene.) Still, it’s good to know that Limbaughism isn’t universal on the Red side of the blogosphere, though it clearly has thoroughly penetrated the Republican Party.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com