Dolchstoss Republicans are Republicans who characterize criticism of the Republican Party, its policies, its leaders, and its elected officials as criticism of America and Americans, or as treason against America. It recalls the Dolchstoss propaganda in Germany following World War I. From Wikipedia:
On November 11, 1918, the civilian representatives of the newly formed Weimar Republic of Germany signed an armistice with the Allies which would end World War I. The war itself had killed 1,770,000 German soldiers and 760,000 German civilians and devastated the economy. The subsequent Treaty of Versailles led to further territorial and financial losses. People were looking for a scapegoat, and the German military found it in communists, republican politicians and "international Jewry", together called the "November criminals". They, the commanders alleged, had "stabbed them in the back" on the home front. This Dolchstosslegende, literally dagger-blow legend, would play an important role in post-war Germany.
Dolchstoss Republicans are, obviously those Republicans who accuse Democratic critics of the Republican execution of the Iraq War as providing aid and comfort to the enemy. But these are not the only Dolchstoss Republicans; every Republican who would characterize criticism as treason is equally as deserving of the label.
On May 19, 2004, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi criticized Bush as "incompetent." The Dolchstoss Republicans reponded as expected: by labeling her speech treasonous.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert:
"We are in the middle of a war and in the middle of a political campaign. Mrs. Pelosi's comments were meant to inspire her political base. But who else do they inspire? That is the question she should ask herself."
Republican National Committee Chair Ed Gillespie:
"To angry Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Ted Kennedy, terrorists and militia aren't responsible for the deaths of U.S. soldiers, their commander-in-chief is. And our servicemen and women, in putting torture chambers 'under U.S. management,' are no different than a regime that systematically tortured, raped and killed its own people. The San Francisco/Boston Democrats led by John Kerry have now adopted Blame America First as their official policy."
National Republican Congressional Committee Tom Reynolds:
"Our nation is at war. American men and women, some of them still teenagers, are leaving behind their families and sometimes giving their lives so America never again has to face a tragedy such as we did on September 11th. They sleep in the sand thousands of miles away from loved ones. They face landmines that could leave them permanently disabled and fight terrorists who try to blow up their barracks. And yet they fight on to make us safe and ask only for their country to support them as they risk their lives so ours might be better. We are a nation at war. And yet Nancy Pelosi's message to these brave men and women is that not only are we not unified in America, but that she believes there is no leadership in this effort and that incompetence has led many of these soldiers to die. If Nancy Pelosi has nothing to offer our troops, who are living and dying thousands of miles away, besides taunting them by saying they are dying needlessly and are risking their lives on a shallow mission, then she should just go back to her pastel colored condo in San Francisco and keep her views to herself."
[S]ome commentators on the right seem to have decided that the real enemies aren't the ones they read about it the papers, but the people who write them. . . . The argument here - that everything is fine except the media coverage - is absurd on its face. . . . Nevertheless, the political purpose of the theory isn't hard to grasp. The groundwork is being laid for a new version of the "stab in the back" myth that helped destroy Weimar Germany. No matter how far south things go in Iraq, the blame will be laid not at the feet of the president who initiated and conducted the war, but rather on those who had the temerity to note that it wasn't working. Rather than the critics having been proven right, or so the story goes, the critics are to blame for the failure of the very policy they were criticizing. It's an ugly tactic, and as you go down the journalistic food chain, it grows uglier still.
Yglesias cites the following articles:
- "Speaking to the nation" by Michael Barone at Townhall
- "Congress, Media Could Talk U.S. Into Iraq Defeat" by Morton Kondracke at Real Clear Politics
Max Speak, You Listen! further elaborates.
Tapped reports further efforts of the Dolchstoss Republicans to blame the media for Bush's failures in Iraq.