ADOLF HITLER

ADOLF HITLER

While we have been absorbed in the death of Michael Jackson and the whatever-you-call-it of Sarah Palin, Bernie Ecclestone has been telling what a swell guy Adolf Hitler was — and then sort of taking it back.

Ecclestone is the top man in Formula One. He was commenting recently about the seeming inability of governments to do anything to improve the economic condition of most of the world. Now Hitler, Ecclestone said, there was a guy who could get things done.

And that he could.

The remark attracted a predictable response. Ecclestone, describing himself as a “fool” for having said such a thing, took a second crack at it, writing in The Times of London:

BERNARD ECCLESTONE

BERNARD ECCLESTONE

During the 1930s Germany was facing an economic crisis but Hitler was able to rebuild the economy, building the autobahns and German industry. That was all I meant when I referred to him getting things done. I’m an admirer of good leadership, of politicians who stand by their convictions and tell the voters the truth. I’m not an admirer of dictators, who rule by terror.

Evidently Ecclestone was absent the day the teacher told how the German government, soon after Hitler took power in 1933, suspended civil rights including the writ of habeas corpus, suppressed the Communist party and other opposition organizations, and violently — sometimes to the point of murder — drove the Communists away. And Ecclestone might have dozed over that part of the history text that described how Hitler’s government, before turning the Fatherland into heaven on earth, got the legislature to pass an act that pushed aside inconvenient constitutional provisions and made the regime a legal dictatorship.

Every once in a while someone who hasn’t done his homework “discovers” how beneficial Hitler would have been for Germany if he hadn’t been the devil incarnate. These epiphanies always end the same way.