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In History, Politics on February 2, 2012 at 8:43 am

Sometimes, democracies are saved through the sheer pride and stupidity of their worst enemies.

In 1940, Great Britain faced eventual defeat and enslavement at the hands of the German Luftwaffe (Air Force).

British cities were being fire-bombed.  Thousands of civilians were being injured, killed or left homeless.

If the Germans gained air supremacy, they could destroy the Royal Navy–the last line in British defenses before invasion.

Meanwhile, German planes were being shot down by the score.   But others were gradually wiping out Britain’s elaborate system of radar stations, which gave England a “head’s-up” on where attacking German planes were headed.

Then fate–or Providence–intervened.

Two German bombers accidentally dropped bombs on London–a target that Adolf Hitler, Germany’s Fuehrer, had ruled off-limits.  He had feared that the sight of London going up in flames might lead America to enter the war against him.

It didn’t.  But it did lead Britain to retaliate with raids against Berlin, the capitol of Nazi Germany.

The Germans were stunned: They had been told it would be impossible for anyone to bomb their cities.

Hitler was enraged.  He directed the Luftwaffe to stop attacking British radar stations and concentrate on bombing London.

The city suffered horribly–while the British frantically repaired their damaged radar stations.

And then the British got a second and even greater reprieve: Hitler, frustrated at not being able to conquer England, turned his legions against his supposed ally, the Soviet Union.

This colossal blunder sealed the fate of Hitler and his Third Reich.  So did his equally colossal one of declaring war on the United States after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

History just might be repeating itself in our own lifetimes.

Now Americans are being treated to another equally brutal struggle: The no-holds-barred conflict between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination for President.

Gingrich, who perfected the Joe McCarthy art of political slander, has labeled Romney a “pro-abortion, pro-gun-control,  pro-tax-increase liberal.”

Among Republicans, those are the ultimate in fighting words.  The only worse charge that Gingrich could hurl would be that Romney is a Communist.  And if the Soviet Union still existed, he would hurl it.

With Romney the victor in the Florida primary, Gingrich has become increasingly desperate–and angry.

He had racked up a badly-needed victory in South Carolina.  He’s lusted for the Presidency all his life.  And now he’s 68, so this has to be his last hurrah.

Romney, a multi-millionaire, has charged Gingrich with influence peddling and being “erratic”–a polite way of saying he’s insane.  And his wealthy PAC doners have trashed Gingrich as a serial adulterer and traitor to the “Ronald Reagan legacy.”

Gingrich has threatened to continue his candidacy for the Republican nomination “all the way to the convention” in August.

In their final TV appearance before the January 31 Florida primary, Gingrich and Romney outlined what each would do during his first month in the White House:

  • Both said they would repeal President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law, which ensures medical care for all Americans, and not just the wealthy.
  • Gingrich said he would ask Congress to repeal the Dodd-Frank overhaul of the financial services industry.  This was passed to prevent a repeat of the 2008 Wall Street “meltdown.”
  • Gingrich said he would also try to repeal the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate governance law, which aims to prevent major corporate and accounting scandals.
  • Romney said he would give licenses to companies that have been approved for drilling for gas and oil on federal lands.

Make no mistake: Democracy as we know it is being seriously threatened.

Both Romney and Gingrich hate Obama and lust to destroy him–politically, if not literally. And one of them will get the chance to do so when the Republicans finally choose a Presidential nominee in August.

But first, one of them has to rack up enough votes to persuade convention delegates to choose him as the nominee.

Until that happens, Romney and Gingrich will almost certainly remain locked in a death-struggle for power.

Right now, the smart money seems to be on Romney.  He has a nationwide organization and the support of corporate backers willing to spend millions of dollars on his behalf.   And right now, they’re spending those monies on trashing Gingrich.

Gingrich doesn’t have as many wealthy donors as Romney.  But he has the self-righteous conviction that he deserves to be President.  And he realizes that if anyone is to deny him that office, it will be Romney, not Obama.

So if he can’t have it, he will do his utmost to guarantee that Romney doesn’t get it, either.  If that means splitting the Republican vote and thus giving Obama another four years, so be it.

Thus, democracy may yet again be saved through the pride and stupidity of its worst enemies.

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