It’s what Goebbels Did

The thing about our political discourse, is that the only way a politician breaks through through into the news cycle and conciousness is by saying something outlandish.  I don’t know how you cure this, but it is what it is.  It’s always hard to figure if these things count as “gaffes” or something else, but they develop into a cycle of “Say something outrageous, defend, apologize for any offense”.

 Alabama’s new governor Robert Bentley is apologizing for comments he made Monday during a Martin Luther King Day celebration.
   Bentley issued an apology yesterday for stating that anyone who doesn’t share his Christian faith cannot be counted among his brothers and sisters.
   The offending comments came hours after Bentley was sworn in as governor, when he told a Montgomery Baptist church audience, quote, “Anybody who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I’m telling you, you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister.”  His speech spurred outrage from Jewish and civil rights groups, who said the comments were offensive and inappropriate.
I guess I should shrug and say “It’s Alabama”, but what was the point of this statement?  You can shovel any number of Christian allusions without pointedly calling out non-believers.

An auxilary to the “like Hitler did” Godwin’s Law, the Goebels reference:

Rep. Steve Cohen on Thursday stood by his remarks in which he compared Republican attacks on the health care overhaul to Nazi propaganda advanced by Joseph Goebbels. 

The Tennessee Democrat, who is Jewish, said he regrets that anyone was offended and that his comments were used to “distract from the debate about health care.” But in a detailed written statement, the congressman elaborated on and defended his analogy. 

“Taken out of context, I can understand the confusion and concern,” he said. “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.” 

Goebbels references are a bit less offensive than Hitler, in the sense that Hitler has ceased to mean a damned thing and Goebbels at least refers to specific concerns of public relations in a world where facts are transmitted but are receptibily meaningless.  Laced in Goebbels’s techniques, for instance, is gratuitous invective — see for instance, calling a bill the “Repeal Job Killing Health Care Act”.  But as always, it’s something of a conversation killer.  He could just go the Joseph Wilson route and shout “You Lie!” and received the media attention.  (Or maybe he couldn’t have — does the House have a rule against pointed references to colleagues on the floor in debate?)

In case you’re curious on the roll call vote — almost a party line vote, except for one Democratic Congress-woman who obviously couldn’t vote, and three Democratic Congress-men who voted aye — Oklahoma’s Dan Boren, North Carolina’s Mike McIntyre, and Arkansas’s Mike Ross.   Curiously, I see that some media outlets get the Oklahoma Congressman wrong — reference his father, David — but really, one member of a political lineage in Oklahoma is about the same as the next — he got in off of his father’s coat-tails.

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