At the event, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) called the House health reform bill "the greatest threat to freedom I have seen in my 19 years in Washington."
Really? So providing health care to the uninsured is a bigger threat to freedom than say ... warrantless wiretapping of American citizens or denying an American citizen the right of habeas corpus?
Never mind me. Readers all know about my "radical" views on freedom and civil liberties. But is Boehner calling the folks over at the AARP, who at the very same time were having a press conference to endorse the House bill, freedom haters, too? Somehow, I don't think my AARP-member dad, a lifelong Republican currently trapped in the Medicare "donut hole" -- one of the problems targeted by the House bill -- would take too kindly to that.
It gets worse though. Here's David A. Harris, president of the National Jewish Democratic Council:
"[The] G.O.P. `Tea Party' on Capitol Hill opposing health insurance reform invoked disgusting Holocaust imagery and outright anti-Semitism. Top Republican Party leaders including House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) stood before a crowd that included a banner protesting health care reform and displaying corpses from the Holocaust. Yet another sign charged that `Obama takes his orders from the Rothchilds' [sic]. Such vile invocations of Nazi and Holocaust rhetoric have been condemned in recent weeks by rabbinic movements, The Interfaith Alliance, and The American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants."
Remember Cliff from Cheers? Actor John Ratzenberger riffed on the Obama's not from here theme: "We have to remember where their philosophy comes from. It doesn't come from America. It comes from overseas. It comes from socialism." And the crowd shouted "Nazis! Nazis!"
This tells you something about the educational level of the people in the crowd, as they'd apparently never studied the difference between National Socialism (Nazism) and socialism of the "collective or public control of the means of production" variety. I mean, they both have socialism in the name. Why bother to actually understand the epithets you're throwing around?
That there were idiots, bigots and anti-Semites at this rally doesn't surprise me given that it was initiated by Bachmann. But what I can't understand or forgive is that while all this was going on and afterwards, the GOP leadership stayed silent and continues to do so, and thus condoning and, not only that, institutionalizing this despicable behavior. The only member of the GOP who spoke against these sickening displays was Cantor, who rather weakly called them "inappropriate."
Politico's Glenn Thrush reports that Boehner spokesman Michael Steel claimed: "Leader Boehner did not see any such sign. Obviously, it would be grossly inappropriate."
I asked a member of the state committee CT GOP why there was no repudiation of such signs from the party leadership in Washington. He too employed the see no evil approach: "Seeing as I wasn't there myself ... I have no idea what really was going there" -- this despite reports in the Washington Post.
As Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel said, "This kind of political hatred is indecent and disgusting." That it is happening under the GOP's aegis is even more so.