Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) isn’t backing down from comments he made on the floor of the House last night comparing Republican’s lies about health care to the lies of Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.
“I meant what I said, that lies are wrong,” Cohen told TPM in a phone interview Wednesday.
Cohen said he wasn’t comparing Republicans to members of the Third Reich. He did, however, see a parallel between the rhetorical strategies of GOPers in their march to repeal health care reform and those used on the people of Germany under the leadership of Adolf Hitler.
“It was a lie, and that if you repeat a lie over and over again it doesn’t make it the truth and that’s what Goebbels did,” Cohen said. “Goebbels is known for political propaganda, probably one of the most successful political propagandist whose philosophy was to lie, and if you repeat it over and over again than people will believe it.”
“Last night I did mention Goebbels because I thought about it and I’ve had people tell me ‘it’s just like Goebbels, it’s the big lie’ you repeat it over and over and over again,” Cohen said.
“No, there are no — Republicans, and members of Congress and hardly anybody in America — is a Nazi. But lies are lies and lies are uncivil and lies are wrong,” Cohen added.
I asked Cohen whether he could see why people were upset by the comparison between even the rhetorical tactics of those the Republicans and the Nazis.
“I don’t think there was really a comparison, I was saying what the effect of lies are. And if I didn’t have a record of writing about lies against government and lies about our government since last December and have written two op-eds in Roll Call and said a month before Tucson happened that lies can drive anti-government people to do things, I think it would be a little bit different.
“And I think being Jewish I’ve got a little more standing to bring up Goebbels and Nazis and the lies that they perpetrated on my ancestors,” Cohen said.
Cohen told me that he thinks the media was just looking for something to jump on to say that the era of civility was over.
“I think I’ve kept the civil tone, and lies are lies and I’ve got a long track record of standing up against lies,” Cohen said.
Cohen’s extended comments on the floor of the House last night are embedded below.