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‘I won’t say it again, but I was right’…

Steve Cohen is drawing fire for likening the Republican Party’s talking points to the propaganda tactics of the infamous Nazi-era figure Joseph Goebbels.  Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis spoke eloquently at the MLK Holiday celebration in Memphis Monday. Later in the week, he went on the offense against Republicans who have called President Obama’s healthcare bill a “government takeover.”

 Steve Cohen
 Steve Cohen (Photo by Warren Roseborough)

Cohen is drawing fire for likening the Republican Party’s talking points to the propaganda tactics of the infamous Nazi-era figure Joseph Goebbels. Said Cohen, “…Repeat the lie, repeat the lie until eventually people believe it. Like blood libel, that’s the same kind of thing.”

Now Cohen’s fending off suggestions that he has broken the short-lived civility between the two parties following the assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona.

On television Wednesday night, Cohen was peppered about his remarks by CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Cohen ended by saying, “I won’t say it again, but I was right.”

On Thursday, Cohen weighed in again, issuing the following:


“There has been considerable media attention regarding comments I made during Special Orders on the House floor as part of a colloquy Tuesday evening. While I received no comments or responses from my colleagues on the floor at the time or, for that matter from anyone until midday on Wednesday, someone posted a small portion of the speech on the Internet. Taken out of context, I can understand the confusion and concern. In speaking about the Republican message of “government takeover of health care” that has been drummed into the heads of Americans and the media for more than a year, I referenced the non-partisan, Pulitzer prize-winning Politfact.com judgment that named the Republican message as the “2010 Lie of the Year.”

While I regret that anything I said has created an opportunity to distract from the debate about health care for 32 million Americans, I want to be clear that I never called Republicans Nazis. Instead, the reference I made was to the greatest propaganda master of all time. Propaganda, which is called “messaging” today, can be true or false. In this case, the message is false.

I would certainly never do anything to diminish the horror of the Nazi Holocaust as I revere and respect the history of my people. I sponsored legislation which created one of the first state Holocaust Commissions in America and actively served as a Commission member for over 20 years. I regret that anyone in the Jewish Community, my Republican colleagues or anyone else was offended by the portrayal of my comments. My comments were not directed toward any group or people but at the false message and, specifically, the method by which is has been delivered.

It is disappointing that my comments have been used to distract from the health care reform debate It is my hope that we can return our focus to the matter at hand—health care for 32 million Americans.”

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