As we all ponder teh McCain campaign's attempts to make their attacks using guilt by association to stick to Obama, I thought it would be interesting to compare another recent case where a major American politician had close personal associations not with the wimped out bad associates we've seen for Obama and even McCain, but with actual Nazis.

It's Arnold, of course.

First, of course, Arnold Scharzenegger's dad was a Nazi storm trooper, a member of the SA. Read about it here.

Gustav Schwarzenegger, the late father of the film star now running for governor of California, was a volunteer member of the Sturmabteilung, or SA — the notorious Nazi storm troopers also known as brownshirts...SA membership is not considered a crime in itself, as membership in the Gestapo or the paramilitary SS would be...Arnold [is] not proud of the fact that his father was a member of the Nazi Party and that his father was a member of the SA.

Second, is Arnold's friendship with Kurt Waldheim, which continued well after Waldheim's Nazi past had surfaced. Some background is here.

Kurt Waldheim, a widely esteemed former secretary general of the United Nations...participated in Nazi atrocities during World War II....In 1944, Waldheim had reviewed and approved a packet of anti-Semitic propaganda leaflets to be dropped behind Russian lines, one of which ended, "enough of the Jewish war, kill the Jews, come over." After the war, Waldheim was wanted for war crimes by the War Crimes Commission of the United Nations, the very organization he would later head....[After the news broke] Schwarzenegger's name remained on Waldheim's campaign posters. After Waldheim was elected, Schwarzenegger paid him a visit and was photographed with him. According to the New York Post's "Page Six" gossip column, Schwarzenegger was seen sitting beside Waldheim as recently as 1998, when the two attended the second inauguration of Waldheim's successor as president

Now, I think that Arnold has not done anything all that wrong. He's not a Nazi, and he has repeatedly expressed his unhappiness that his father was, and has condemned not only Nazism but also all antisemitism and racism. Obviously, he can't control who his father was, and Kurt Waldheim's subsequent career in Austria and in the UN had no known taint of Nazism. But those connections are very close and personal, and in the case of Waldheim, they continued well after many people had broken off contact with him. And yet, Arnold has been elected twice to the governorship of California.

The purpose of this diary is not to criticize Scharzenegger as governor, but I'll just mention in passing the deep resentment I have to him and to the band of fools who recalled Davis and elected him twice.

My point instead is to compare the treatment of Arnold's personal, lifelong connection with Nazis and war criminals to what the McCain campaign is trying to do with Obama. Can anyone imagine a less significant connection between two men as Obama's is with Ayers? Even with Wright, the connection is much less than that of a father and son or of two lifelong friends and associates. And yet who is getting guilt by association aimed at him--the close personal associate of (at least) two Nazis, or the casual associate or congregant of two Americans whose biggest crime* is that their opinions are unpopular with the Right?

What makes the difference? I think it boils down to the difference between McCain's Republicans on the one hand, and Obama and the Democrats on the other. Republicans are driving the whole sleezeball, but since Scharzenegger is one, the ball never got rolling against him. It was discussed, no one really cared, and it was over. With Obama, it is his bad luck that he is running against Republicans, specifically McCain and Palin. They have no shame, they are desperate, and therefore, they are trying to make an insignificant association into a mountain of hurt.

Greg Shenaut

*Remember that not only is Obama's connection to them far from close, or of a type that has any relevance to fitness to serve as president, but neither Ayers or Wright has been convicted of a crime. Ayers was imprisoned several times for offenses related to anti-war demonstrations, and has claimed to be involved in what was essentially a reckless and extreme form of vandalism. Wright, as far as I know, hasn't even been arrested for anything.

Originally posted to Greg Shenaut on Mon Oct 06, 2008 at 09:52 PM PDT.

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