06/02/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Recycled Rhetoric From the Vanguard

Why do Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and others attempt to label President Obama as both a redistributive Socialist and a Nazi Fascist? The two labels seem strange bedfellows. Moreover, the fact that, when it comes to the economy, our President likes his government lean makes all this sound tinny.

In his interview with President Obama, CBS News' Harry Smith makes it sound personal. However, the truth is that this has little to do with our President. Obama is right to point out that this vitriol rears its head periodically in America.

Although Limbaugh, Beck, Sarah Palin and the Tea Party are each new and special, the rhetoric is not.

Throughout the Twentieth Century, efforts to curb beggar-thy-neighbor economic models were also labeled feudalism, fascism, communism, and socialism. Often all at once.

For example, in The Road to Serfdom, F. A. Hayek conjured the triad of feudalism, fascism and communism to attack the post-War Welfare State.

Also, Milton Friedman wrote the Preface to the 50th Anniversary Edition of Hayek's book, extending the critique to not only President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society Programs, but also to President George H. W. Bush's Clean Air Act and American with Disabilities Act.

That said, even if many of our politicians and pundits are merely entertainers, they do choose words like socialism and fascism because they pack a punch. Greater care must be taken. Rhetoric, even stale and recycled, can be dangerous.