Nazi-related references have been thrown around like prizes at a birthday party at this year’s Democratic National Convention. The third reference in as many days was aimed at South Carolina’s Republican governor Nikki Haley. Dick Harpoolitan, the chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, compared Haley to Hitler’s mistress, reports USA Today. Harpoolitcan, “noting that Republicans are holding opposition press briefings in a basements studio,” commented at a South Carolina delegation breakfast today that Haley was, “down in the basement a la Eva Braun.” Really? Not only was his comment uncalled for and inappropriate, it couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Democratic party.
This is not the first time a Republican has been hit with a Nazi-related remark since the beginning of the Democratic National Convention. California Democratic Party chief John Burton got things started on Monday. According to Slate, Burton said Republicans lie without shame, and that “as long as you lie, Joseph Goebbels, the big lie, you keep repeating it,” referring to the philosophy of Nazi propagandist. Burton seems to be continuing this year’s political theme of let’s-knock-down-the-opposition-instead-of-actually-promoting-our-platform.
The next day, Kansas Democratic Labor Committee president used the name of Hitler himself. The Wichita Eagle reports that Pat Lehman is concerned with voter-registration laws that Republicans have passed in many states in order to suppress the vote of certain Democratic-leaning groups such as the elderly. In scorning the Republican’s guise that these new laws are to protect against voter fraud, Lehman comments, “It’s like Hitler said, if you’re going to tell a lie, tell a big lie, and if you tell it often enough and say it in a loud enough voice, some people are going to believe you.”
In the opinion of Slate writer David Weigel, there is no offense in quoting an aphorism, making the following argument: “When you quote somebody, are you assuming all the characteristics and contexts of the person responsible for the quote?” Point taken, Weigel, but what about Harpootlian’s comment about Haley? Unlike Lehman and even Burton, Harpootlian’s comment was not an effort to “advance a larger narrative,” as Josh Vorhees states. On the contrary, it was a needless quip that couldn’t have come at a worse time since the Democrats were already under fire for their first two Hitler-related comments.
Of course, the Republican party is not the graciously forgiving wronged party in this situation. USA Today reports that Haley responded to Harpootlian’s comment by calling him, “an angry, hateful man” who “embarrasses South Carolina every time he opens his mouth.” I understand that the Republican party has a right to be offended by the remarks made in the last few days, but to respond by calling someone angry and hateful? I suddenly feel like I am privy to a playground fight, not a campaign in which I am supposed to vote the next leaders of my country. Judging by the current behavior of all involved, I’m not sure I’d even want these people playing in the park with my kids, much less leading our nation.
Readers: What are your thoughts? Is there some bullying and name-calling going on here, or is this all just a trumped-up attempt to make one party look better than the other?