Statement on U.K. Cover of The Great Unraveling

SYNOPSIS: Statement by Bobby about the cover of the U.K. version of The Great Unravelling

Contrary to what David Kirkpatrick (whose 11.23.03 New York Times story looks like a cut-and-paste job from an RNC press release) and Gollum Luskin say (I'm going to ween myself off of linking to his vile site), that picture of Cheney on the U.K. cover (below) is *NOT* comparing Cheney to Hitler. First, let's state the obvious. We've seen Luskin do this before: This is the usual tendentious over-interpretation and phony outrage that Luskin employs whenever he analyzes anything related to Krugman. The RNC is prone to the exact same thing with Democrats in general: The RNC, including chair Ed Gillespie, has also stooped to calling the Democratic presidential candidates' criticisms of Bush "political hate speech." And what term did RNC spokeswoman Christine Iverson, in Kirkpatrick's article, use to describe Krugman's attacks on Bush? You guess it: "hate speech" (I guess she forgot the throw-away qualifier "political"). Ed Gillespie and the others at the RNC must apologize for exploiting the term "hate speech," not to Democrats but to those who are victims of *actual* hate speech. It's especially disgusting that the RNC would abuse this term for the purpose of smearing and shouting down political dissent against Bush.

Second: This is a picture of Cheney with an oil mustache, like in the "Got Milk" commercials (it says, "Got Oil?" on his forehead and the oil is dribbling out of his mouth) -- so the Cheney picture is political satire regarding Cheney's very very close ties to Halliburton and big oil. This is obviously what the book designers intended, and this Hitler-mustache accusation is a tendentious and willful misinterpretation of the picture. Let's remember that this "U.K. cover" story was first reported in an 11.18.03 post on a blog by one Stephen Kirchner. It was followed by an 11.18.03 post on Luskin's own blog, which cited Kirchner and expressed outrage over the U.K. cover being "grotesque and distasteful." These were finally followed by an 11.20.03 New York Sun article. However, in these posts and Sun article, there was *ZERO* mention of Cheney's oil mustache being a Hitler mustache. These are just three examples: I'm sure that we can find many other writings on the internet and print where the U.K. cover is criticized but the idea never came to the author's mind that it compares Cheney to Hitler (the Unofficial Krugman Archive message board is another example of this). The reason why the idea doesn't come to mind is obviously that it does not look like a Hitler mustache.

So why all this faux outrage against Krugman? At some point, somebody either by design or due to his own far-fetched but genuine opinion, started a meme that the U.K. cover was comparing Cheney to Hitler (maybe this person started the meme on some blog or message board somewhere, etc). As we know, memes survive not by their truthfulness but by their ability to propagate themselves. This meme is obviously very useful to Luskin, the RNC, and all tendentious Krugman critics. So, upon hearing it, they seized on it to propagate it more and smear Krugman, until it ended up in the article of a gullible reporter at The New York Times.

It's fairly obvious that Luskin doesn't really believe that the U.K. cover has anything to do with Hitler, or else he would have said so at the begining in his 11.18.03 blog posting, rather than sitting on it for five days until 11.23.03. In the 11.20.03 Sun article, Luskin, who is interviewed, again says nothing whatsoever about Hitler when criticizing the U.K. cover, but he does find time to make this complaint about it: "'What is disturbing about it, is the imagery is violent,' said Donald Luskin, the most prominent cyber-critic of Mr. Krugman. Mr. Luskin said he was most troubled by the picture of the president. 'It looks like physical violence was done to him,' said Mr. Luskin," (give me a break!). In short, Luskin and his cohort are faking it when they say they think the U.K. cover depicts a Hitler mustache.

Third: The oil mustache is far too wide and covers far too much of Cheney's upper lip to be a Hitler mustache, which would cover only the middle of the upper lip. Luskin, and apparently the RNC also whine that the cover portrays Bush as Frankenstein's monster, which, if true, wouldn't be offensive (it's just strange that anyone would be outraged by Frankenstein -- when did conservatives become such wimps?). For what it's worth, I think the stitches in Bush's forehead, instead, are there to reflect Bush's lack of a brain. But I'm sure that Luskin and the RNC would whine about how offensive that is too.

Finally: The public's outrage against Hitler and grief for victims of the Holocaust, World War II, and other crimes against humanity is our greatest weapon against it happening again. The same goes for our outrage against *actual* anti-Semitism and *actual* hate speech. We should therefore hold that outrage and grief sacred, which includes not allowing them to be exploited by charlatans. Luskin is one of those charlatans, and so are Ed Gillespie and the people at the RNC. They are exploiting our grief and outrage to score a cheap and tendentious political point against Krugman. They should be ashamed of themselves. I'm sure that everyone else is ashamed of them.

If you like, you can reach RNC spokeswoman Christine Iverson at 202-863-8614. Or email the Times what you think of David Kirkpatrick's story at You can also tell National Review Online you think of Gollum Luskin at

Originally published by Bobby, 11.23.03