Well, the Democratic National Convention has gotten off to the kind of start one might expect after four years of Barack Obama. First, Democratic campaign surrogates kept fumbling the hardly-unexpected “are you better off” question every incumbent since Jimmy Carter has had to answer. Now the leader of the largest state party has suddenly departed from Charlotte after comparing Paul Ryan to Josef Goebbels and then attempting to deny he’d made a Nazi comparison at all. John Burton, the chair of California’s Democratic Party, said that Ryan had adopted Goebbels’ “Big Lie” technique in his convention speech last week:
The Chairman of the California Democratic Party already had political pundits, delegates and rivals buzzing a day before the Democratic National Convention formally opened in Charlotte, North Carolina, after telling KCBS Radio exclusively that Republican tactics had been akin to Nazi propaganda.
“They lie and they don’t care if people think they lie,” Chairman of the California Democratic Party John Burton told KCBS Monday in Charlotte. “As long as you lie, Joseph Goebbels, the big lie, you keep repeating it, you know.” …
The Goebbels reference, in particular, drew quick response and rebuke from Republicans, and Burton was reminded that Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown once had to apologize after comparing GOP challenger Meg Whitman to Goebbels during an interview, also with KCBS.
“How’d he get in trouble? Wait, s–t, that’s right, she won the election,” he said, tongue in cheek. “He won it big, god damn he was in trouble. What are you talking about?”
After controversy erupted, Burton attempted a “sorry if you didn’t comprehend my genius” non-apology apology:
“To correct press reports of my recent comments about Republican lies, I did not call Republicans Nazis nor would I ever. In fact, I didn’t even use the word.
“If Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, or the Republicans are insulted by my describing their campaign tactic as the big lie – I most humbly apologize to them or anyone who might have been offended by that comment.”
Yes, Burton never actually said the word Nazi. He just said “Josef Goebbels” and “Big Lie,” a notorious Nazi leader and the Nazi propaganda tactic he pioneered. How could anyone deduce from those quotes that Burton intended to compare Ryan with the Nazis? But hey, if by some chance that’s what some people thought, he humbly apologizes for offending them.
How well did that work? Not too terribly well, surprisingly — and Burton had to flee Charlotte:
CDP Chairman John Burton has left Charlotte for a "pre-scheduled root canal" back in California #dnc2012ca
— Capitol Alert (@CapitolAlert) September 4, 2012
Er, sure. The chair of the California Democratic Party scheduled a root canal for the same week as the Democratic National Convention, and just happened to remember it after flying all the way out to Charlotte. I wonder if a root canal is an effective way to get one’s foot out of one’s mouth.