David Axelrod, President Obama’s top campaign adviser, tweeted yesterday about Mitt Romney’s blanket campaigning in Illinois ahead of today’s primary:
The Mittzkrieg in Illinois isn’t terribly inspiring, so turnout may lag. But the sheer volume probably has been grindingly effective.
Within just a few hours, the Republican Jewish Coalition was calling for an apology:
At a time when there is so much talk about the need for civility in political discourse, it is disturbing to see President Obama’s top campaign advisor casually throw Nazi imagery around in reference to a Republican candidate for President. Holocaust and Nazi imagery are always inappropriate in the political arena. Axelrod should apologize for his offensive language.
We call on Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, to publicly rebuke Axelrod for his language. We hope that the National Jewish Democratic Council will join us in denouncing Axelrod’s comment, as they have frequently denounced Holocaust imagery in politics in the past.
It took me two minutes on the Google to find an instance of a Republican pol using the term in reference to Democrats. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) used the actual term in 2009 to describe Nancy Pelosi’s legislative agenda:
We are seeing that this is a Congress that is in a hurry, in a hurry because they have got an agenda. They are on a steamroller path. They are on a blitzkrieg path. They have to get everything done yesterday.
(Bachmann’s quote, incidentally, was uncovered by the liberal media watchdog Media Matters, not becuase it was outraged — but because it was pushing back against outrage occasioned by Joe Biden’s use of the term in 2010. Plus ca change.)
I asked the RJC on Twitter if they could explain why Bachmann’s usage was less offensive than Axelrod’s. They replied:
start with the difference between who they are… The President’s team sets the tone for nation’s discourse, right?
Fair enough. But the more salient point is: This usage, by a leader of the Tea Party caucus and a future contender for the GOP presidential nod, has been known for more than a year. No one complained, from either side; it was used by liberals to show how commonplace the term is.
This is how my Encyclopedia Britannica defines "Blitzkrieg":
A military tactic calculated to create psychological shock and resultant disorganization in enemy forces through the employment of surprise, speed, and superiority in matériel or firepower.
EB even goes on to note:
More recent manifestations of blitzkrieg were the combined air and ground attacks by Israeli forces on Syria and Egypt in June 1967 and the Israeli counterattacks and final counteroffensive against the same adversaries in October 1973.
It’s a purely military exercise, in other words — one originated by the most monstrous regime in history, but one that has become commonplace. Were Axelrod to have referred to Romney as as steady and resilient as a Volkswagen, would he be in as much trouble?