Last night, Bill O’Reilly devoted a significant portion of his Fox News show to debating whether President Obama is a socialist. O’Reilly has taken heat from the far right for believing that while Obama ascribes to some “socialist tenets,” he is not a pure socialist because he doesn’t “want to seize your house.” His top guest yesterday was former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who said that “[o]f course” Obama is a socialist:
GINGRICH: I don’t believe that President Obama in any way is like Fidel Castro. But I do believe he is an exactly in the tradition of the French Socialists or the Italian Socialists or the German Socialists. I think he’d have been very comfortable in the Social Democratic Party in Germany. I think he would have been very comfortable in the pre-Tony Blair Labor Party in Great Britain. I think he represents a strain of left-wing big government. Government is smart. You’re stupid. Government should decide everything. You’re not capable of it.
And let’s look at his policies. Listen to his rhetoric. This is somebody who really does believe that if you’re in private enterprise and you go out and you work hard, you’re somehow doing bad things.
Gingrich’s statement that Obama would fit in with the Social Democratic Party in Germany is interesting. After all, the Social Democrats were fighting to block Adolf Hitler prior to World War II. As Matt Yglesias has explained:
The Social Democrats were the main source of opposition to Hitler at a time when the Communists were bizarrely maintaining that there was no difference between the two and the mainstream parties of the center-right decided that it made sense to form a tactical alliance with Hitler. Social Democrats stand for a generous welfare state and active labor market policies. Nazis try to conquer the world and send people to the gas chamber.