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Friday, Jun 24, 2005, 10:00 am

Durbin Apologize?

By Phoebe Connelly
Well thanks Dick. Thanks for stepping up and apologizing for your "very poor choice of words." Luckly, you don't appear to be alone:

Senator James Inhofe, Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (R-OK), characterized EPA staff as a "Gestapo bureaucracy."

Just last October, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), while speaking in opposition to stem cell research, said, "We certainly have all seen the rejections of Nazi Germany's abuses of science. As a society and a nation, there ought to be some limit on what we can allow or should allow."

Similarly, former Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX) was inspired by a Democratic tax plan to state, "Now, forgive me, but that is right out of Nazi Germany. I don't understand ... why all of a sudden we are passing laws that sound as if they are right out of Nazi Germany."

Even more shockingly, Representative Tom Cole (R-OK) had the audacity to tell local Oklahoma Republicans last March that a vote against President Bush's re-election was akin to supporting Adolph Hitler during World War Two. Adding injury to insult, consider that Senator Kerry earned at least 75% of the votes of American Jews.

Then there is the case of Representative Peter King (R-NY). In opposing a court's pro-choice ruling on the floor of Congress, King thought it appropriate to proclaim, "That, Mr. Speaker, is a modern-day equivalent of the Nazi prison guard saying 'I was just following orders.' It was all legal in Nazi Germany at the time."

Even House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex), like Santorum a key member of the congressional Republican leadership, termed the Environmental Protection Agency the "gestapo of government."

Perhaps the best case of Senator Santorum's selective outrage involves the very powerful conservative Republican powerbroker, Grover Norquist -- a figure few GOP politicians dare criticize. In October 2003, Norquist compared the estate tax to the Holocaust during an interview on National Public Radio. After some had taken note of Norquist's completely unacceptable rhetoric, a reporter gave Norquist a chance to retract his statements in a January 23, 2004 article in the Forward. Instead, he asserted that his original statements were "entirely reasonable," and he added a new wrinkle—a comparison of Democrats to Nazis. The Forward article quotes Norquist as saying, "The Nazis were for gun control, the Nazis were for high marginal tax rates. ... Do you want to talk about who's closer politically to national socialism, the Right or the Left?" Moreover, Norquist "told the Forward that he would not hesitate to use Holocaust comparisons in the future."


Yup our Illinois senator was uniquely out of line.

Phoebe Connelly, a former managing editor at In These Times, is Web Editor at The American Prospect.

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