Steve Cohen: I'm really sorry -- that people are using my GOP/Nazi comparison as a "distraction"

Via lefty Greg Sargent, who says of this afternoon’s statement from the “gentleman” from Tennessee, “[I]t’s clear Cohen is not budging.”


Taken out of context, I can understand the confusion and concern. In speaking about the Republican message of “government takeover of health care” that has been drummed into the heads of Americans and the media for more than a year, I referenced the non-partisan, Pulitzer prize-winning judgment that named the Republican message as the “2010 Lie of the Year.”

“While I regret that anything I said has created an opportunity to distract from the debate about health care for 32 million Americans, I want to be clear that I never called Republicans Nazis. Instead, the reference I made was to the greatest propaganda master of all time. Propaganda, which is called “messaging” today, can be true or false. In this case, the message is false.

“I would certainly never do anything to diminish the horror of the Nazi Holocaust as I revere and respect the history of my people. I sponsored legislation which created one of the first state Holocaust Commissions in America and actively served as a Commission member for over 20 years. I regret that anyone in the Jewish Community, my Republican colleagues or anyone else was offended by the portrayal of my comments. My comments were not directed toward any group or people but at the false message and, specifically, the method by which is has been delivered.

“It is disappointing that my comments have been used to distract from the health care reform debate. It is my hope that we can return our focus to the matter at hand-health care for 32 million Americans.”

Usually these faux apologies run along the lines of “sorry if you were offended,” but this guy’s actually a step past that. Essentially, he’s saying “sorry for letting your offense sidetrack my party’s agenda.” It’s an apology to Democrats, in other words, the lip service to Republicans and Jews in the third paragraph notwithstanding. Which, actually, is true to the spirit of this week’s push for a “new tone” on the Hill: The “new tone” wasn’t a priority during eight years of seething leftist hatred for Bush, but after two years of anger at The One, a horrible shooting that had nothing to do with political rhetoric is now the Democratic catalyst for a new golden age of rhetoric — the occasional Goebbels comparison aside. It’s self-serving, just like Cohen’s “apology.” Good for you for capturing the zeitgeist, Steve.

Two clips for you here, one of an appropriately incredulous Anderson Cooper futilely trying to reason with Cohen — look out for the Max Schmeling comparison! — and the other via Nick Rizzuto of another Cohen bon mot from the House floor during Campaign ’08. Remember how some of the stupider progressive bloggers at the time thought it was smart and witty to say that Obama, like Jesus, was a community organizer and Palin, like Pilate, was a governor? Surely no member of Congress would stick a line that dumb and insulting into the Congressional Record. Would he?