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Byrd Backpedals

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Robert Byrd seems to realize in some dim fashion that he may have crossed a line, with a pitifully weak, dishonest denial: Byrd Denies Comparing Republicans to Nazis.

WASHINGTON - Sen. Robert Byrd’s description of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power was meant as a warning to heed the past and not as a comparison to Republicans, a spokesman for the West Virginia Democrat says.

Nonetheless, two Jewish groups and a pair of GOP politicians chastised the senator on Wednesday, including one who recalled Byrd’s Ku Klux Klan membership as a young man. Byrd’s comments, which he made Tuesday in the Senate, came during his speech criticizing a Republican plan to block Democrats from filibustering President Bush’s judicial nominees.

“Terrible chapters of history ought never be repeated,” said Tom Gavin, spokesman for Byrd. “All one needs to do is to look at history to see how dangerous it is to curb the rights of the minority.”

Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, the Senate’s No. 3 Republican, called for Byrd to retract his comments, saying they “lessen the credibility of the senator and the decorum of the Senate.”

Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee, called the remarks “poisonous rhetoric” that are “reprehensible and beyond the pale.”

The Nazi/Hitler rhetoric really is getting worse out there at the fringes of the Democratic Party, and the poison is spreading into the mainstream.

This seems a much more serious transgression than the one that forced Trent Lott to resign. Will anyone on the left side of the aisle stand up and call for Byrd’s resignation?

UPDATE at 3/3/05 9:09:54 am:

While Byrd blithely compares America to Nazi Germany and gets a pass from his party, over at Daily “Screw Them” Kos the Kidz are whining about Republican “hate speech” (you’re going to laugh when you see what they’re calling “hate speech”) and clamoring for Republican Congressman Jim Gibbons’ resignation. (Hat tip: Geoffrey.)

Jim Gibbons, an extremist Republican Congressman from Nevada, offers the latest version of the GOP “dissent is treason” talking points, coupled with the threat of violence against political opponents:

“I say we tell those liberal, tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, hippie, tie-dyed liberals to go make their movies and their music and whine somewhere else,” Gibbons said to another burst of applause. …

He said that they are the same people who wanted to go to Iraq and become human shields for the enemy.

“I say it’s just too damn bad we didn’t buy them a ticket,” Gibbons said.

Laughter rippled through the room, mingled with more applause. (Emphasis added.)

This kind of hate speech has no place in civil society. By engaging in such base commentary, Rep. Gibbons has declared himself unfit to hold office and must resign.

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