House Democrat compares Republican 'lies' to Nazi propagandist
January 19th, 2011
04:11 PM ET
12 years ago

House Democrat compares Republican 'lies' to Nazi propagandist

Washington (CNN) - A House Democrat compared Republicans to one of the most reviled Nazis during World War ll– ignoring efforts on both sides of the aisle to tone down the political rhetoric.

Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tennessee, used a late night House floor speech Tuesday to hit Republicans for what he called "lies" about a government takeover of the health care system, and evoked Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.

"They say it's a government takeover of health care, a big lie, just like Goebbels. You say it enough, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie and eventually people believe it," he said.

Cohen, who is Jewish, went on to compare that "lie" to the term "blood libel," a phrase that historically was used to falsely accuse Jews of killing Christian children. In present times, the term has come to be understood by some as any false accusation of murder. Sarah Palin used the term last week, but Cohen did not mention her by name in his speech.

"Blood libel. That's the same kind of thing. The Germans said enough about the Jews and people believed it and you had the Holocaust. We've heard it over and over again on this floor, government takeover of health care. Politifact, non-partisan, Pulitzer Prize winning 2009 St. Petersburg times said the biggest lie of 2010 was government takeover of health care because there is no government takeover," said Cohen.

Cohen made his comments after the formal health care debate had concluded for the night Tuesday, during what is known as special orders. Members of the minority party traditionally use this time to come to the House floor to make speeches, generally to a nearly empty chamber.

In a telephone interview with Cohen Wednesday he stood by his comments.

"I didn't see anything wrong with it. Goebbels was the great propagandist of probably the 20th century, and his whole theory was if you tell the lie over and over again people will believe it," Cohen told CNN.

Still, Cohen said he didn't believe he was comparing Republicans to Nazis.

"I wasn't trying to say, never would say, haven't said and wouldn't say that the Republicans are akin to the party that he [Goebbels] was a part of, but they [Republicans] did lie and they've said the lie over and over again," Cohen said.

"The fact is that the government takeover of health care is a lie," he said.

"I don't think I was comparing the Republicans to Goebbels. I was saying that lies are lies and Goebbels was the great perpetrator of lies and that's a danger, and if you look at Goebbels you can see the lie that he told about Jews which he constantly did, became considered fact in Germany that the Jews were evil, and people got involved and didn't stand up."

Cohen also denied his comments ignored his party leadership's pleas to tone down the rhetoric following the shooting of their colleague, Gabrielle Giffords.

"I think civility is not lying, and if you can't come up and say that somebody is lying when they're lying, then the lie becomes the truth. That's not uncivil to say somebody lied," he said.

But, after several questions about the appropriateness of evoking a Nazi to make that point, Cohen did say that "there are no Nazis in Congress, there are some liars, but no Nazis."

Cohen said he has not heard from his party leadership about his remarks.

Filed under: Congress • Republicans
soundoff (134 Responses)
  1. Limbaugh is a liberal

    'Ooo, I'm a republican and I am outraged that democrats use comparisons of nazis on the republicans, wehn we all know only republicans are allowed to do that to democrats! And we've been doing that for the past decade. We even compared democrats to nazis when they raised minor objections during the republican controlled era of the Bush years, even as they caved in on every single bill. Enough is enough! How dare democrats use our own rhetoric against us!'

    January 19, 2011 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  2. Ron

    The left leading by example with ugly rhetoric. That ddn't last long but then again how would MSNBC survive without lying and name calling every night with that lovely lot.

    January 19, 2011 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    "But seriouisly, Nazi propaganda? Aren't we just being a little hyperbolic?"

    NO. It's slightly off topic because it's more related to the islamaphobia thing, but go ahead and Google up Hitler's speech from April 1923 in Munich. Should be easy to find. Now, every time he says "Jews," replace it with "Muslims," and every time he says "Germany," replace it with "America." Sound familiar?

    I'm dead serious by the way. Just do's an interesting thought experiment...and then compare it to the crap you hear from people like Geller or Peter King or Steve King or even bigger wigs like McCain and the GOP leadership about a silent "stealth jihad" and other abject idiocy.

    January 19, 2011 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  4. bob oh

    I just want to know when the civil war will start so i can go somwere with sane people.

    January 19, 2011 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  5. FEAR

    the truth hurts............

    January 19, 2011 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  6. JoeT

    They may feign offense, but I am certain there are at least a few in the right wing that relish being compared to Goebbels.

    January 19, 2011 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  7. Colonelphoenix

    This is a funny accusation because one of my young nieces thought many of the ideas adamantly put forth by some Democrats sounded like what the Taliban was asking of the people they control – either believe what we tell you or you will be punished.....This is truly funny.

    January 19, 2011 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  8. Donovan

    Boehner, the rest of the GOP, and their propaganda organization FOX are about the closest thing to Goebbels and the Nazis since .... well .... the Nazis!!!

    January 19, 2011 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  9. Unconscious


    btw republicans are nazis

    January 19, 2011 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
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