Updated 1/19/11 11:12 p.m. est
Speaking on the floor to an empty House chamber on Tuesday night, Rep. Steve Cohen, Tennessee Democrat, took a shot at Republicans for planning to repeal the Democratic Health care law:
They don’t like the truth so they summarily dismiss it,” said Rep. Cohen. “They say it’s a government takeover of health care, a big lie just like [Nazi propagandist Joseph] Goebbels. You say it enough, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, and eventually, people believe it. Like blood libel. That’s the same kind of thing.”
“You tell a lie over and over again. And we’ve heard it on this floor: Government takeover of health care.” “We heard in August 2009 that there were death panels… Everybody agrees now that was a big lie,” Rep. Cohen said further. “Just like government takeover of health care is a big lie.”
On Wednesday night during the House health care law repeal vote, I asked Mr. Cohen about his controversial Tuesday night remarks, and if he stood by them.
“It’s a big lie and I think lies should not be told and the 9th commandment, thou shalt not bear false witness, stands in Congress too,” he said. When I asked if he was comparing Republicans to Nazis, Mr. Cohen flatly answered, “I don’t think anyone should have drawn that comparison.”
However, Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican, remembered when Congressman Cohen made remarks about Christians and Nazis in 2007 during a House Judiciary Committee meeting.
Congressman King recounted:
“Here’s what Mr.Cohen said before the judiciary committee…March 28, 2007 he said: ‘Nazis were predominantly Christians and the Holocaust was a Christian tragedy.’ So that’s what we get. So now they want to lower the level of acrimony in this debate and this is the exact verbatim quote from the gentleman that uses the term not see again. I think what ever argument the Democrats have about bringing more harmony into the debate they should talk to some of their own people. This was very offensive to me and many others. Especially considering that tens of millions of Christians who died to put an end to the holocaust.”
I asked Mr. Cohen about his 2007 statement Mr. King referenced and the Tennessee Democrat explained it this way:
“I said that the Holocaust was a Christian tragedy because most of the Nazis were Christians and that’s a fact. Hitler was Lutheran and most Germans were not Jewish and the perpetrators of the Holocaust were Christians and they lost track because of the big lie that was told, and they bought the big lie from Goebbels and it made them do something that they all hate and regret, but big lies, if not corrected, and Goebbels said, ‘tell a lie over and over and people will believe it, made good Christian people act in an un-Christian way.”
Congressman Cohen AUDIO
Congressman King AUDIO
This was not the first time the health care debate flared up and accusations from the floor surfaced at a random moment in one of the chambers. In December of 2009, I reported on Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island Democrat, who went after Republicans for not supporting the Democratic healthcare bill:
“Voting ‘no’ and hiding from the vote are the same result. Those of us on the floor see it. It was clear the three of them who did not cast their yes votes until all 60 Senate votes had been tallied and it was clear that the result was a foregone conclusion. And why? Why all this discord and discourtesy, all this unprecedented destructive action? All to break the momentum of our new young president.
They are desperate to break this president. They have ardent supporters who are nearly hysterical at the very election of President Barack Obama. The birthers, the fanatics, the people running around in right-wing militia and Aryan support groups, it is unbearable to them that President Barack Obama should exist. That is one powerful reason. It is not the only one.”
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat, spoke to Fox News Channel host Greta Van Susteren on Wednesday night and responded critically to Mr. Cohen’s Tuesday evening floor speech. “I thought the remarks of Steve Cohen were over the top,” said the Maryland Congressman. “I will talk to Steve about [his remarks.]”