Hillary Clinton, frantically flailing to keep her brand fresh until 2016, this week compared Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler and then, having secured the requisite attention, “clarified” her remark, saying she wasn’t comparing Mr. Putin to Mr. Hitler. Got that?
You might say Ms. Clinton was invoking Godwin’s Law, which states: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” Which is to say, sooner or later, someone’s gonna call someone else “Hitler” or “Nazi.”
Ms. Clinton would no doubt argue that her comment was not made online and thus doesn’t count (although I and millions of others read it online). Perhaps we have different definitions of “is.”
Perhaps it’s also wrong to single out Ms. Clinton. She was just the first US politician over the starting line. As the Washington Post’s Adam Taylor points out, Lyndon Johnson compared the North Vietnamese to Hitler, former Secretary of State George Schultz compared Nicaragua to Nazi Germany, as did George HW Bush with Iraq. Bill Clinton put Serbia and Nazi Germany in the same category, former Defense secretary Don Rumsfeld compared Saddam Hussein to Hitler and Barack Obama kinda, sorta did it in regard to Syria.