From msnbc.com's Carrie Dann and NBC's Domenico Montanaro and Shawna Thomas
In the days following Tucson, lawmakers and the press monitored each modicum of political speech to see if a moment of intemperate rhetoric would signal a break in a “new era of civility” ushered in by the tragic shooting.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)
Looks like: Yup.
In a little-noticed floor speech last night (flagged today by ABC News), Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee invoked Nazis, the Holocaust, Germany’s infamous Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, and – yes – blood libel in describing how Republicans have characterized the health care law as a “government takeover.”
“They say it's a government takeover of health care, a big lie just like Goebbels," Cohen said. "You say it enough, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, and eventually, people believe it. Like blood libel. That's the same kind of thing, blood libel. That's the same kind of thing.”
Referencing “blood libel” – the anti-Semitic false accusation about which Americans received a history lesson last week – Cohen added: “The Germans said enough about the Jews and people believed it -- believed it and you have the Holocaust.”
(Cohen's remarks didn't get picked up until today because they were delivered to a nearly empty House gallery. Members of Congress can give speeches on almost any topic after legislative business is finished for the day. Many members use it as their way to “revise and extend” their remarks with the hope that it will get picked up by their local stations or newspapers. These speeches tend to be given to not only empty press galleries, but empty seats on the floor as well.)
The last time a Democratic politician invoked Goebbels to describe a GOP rival (when California gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown drew a parallel between the notorious Nazi politician and Republican Meg Whitman), First Read coined its own theory of what bringing up the Nazi party does to political discourse. Here’s what we wrote then:
You’ve heard of Godwin’s Law -- in an online argument, the person who brings up the Nazis or a Nazi comparison automatically effectively ends (and loses) the arguments. Well, here’s First Read’s Law -- bringing up the Nazis in American politics never does anyone any good. And guess what: The first one to bring it up always sees it boomerang.