No, John Burton did not compare the Republican Party to Nazis

If you look at the headlines from today’s opening breakfast for the California delegation here at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, you’ll be confronted with headlines breathlessly claiming that California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton compared Republicans to Nazis.

That’s nice headline fodder and all, except it’s not true. Here’s the actual quote from Burton:

“They lie and they don’t care if people think they lie. …Joseph Goebbels it’s the big lie, you keep repeating it,” Burton said Monday before the Blake Hotel breakfast. He said Ryan told “a bold-faced lie and he doesn’t care that it was a lie. That was Goebbels, the big lie.”

Without actually delving into the headline behind the quote, you’d think that Burton claimed that the Republican Party has an ideology relevantly similar to that of the National Socialists. He didn’t. Instead, he made reference to the method of propaganda and deceit made most famous by, yes, Joseph Goebbels: that it doesn’t matter how big the lie is, as long as it gets repeated over and over without shame. And eventually, goes the strategy, you can convince people to believe your big lie.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because the Romney campaign, and the Republican Party in general, is using that exact strategy. The Romney/Ryan ticket is repeating bald-faced lies over and over again in the assumption that through muddying the waters enough, they can make truth a casualty of politics. They are doing this with the big lie that Obama gutted welfare-to-work programs. Ryan lied to the world publicly when he insinuated that Obama was responsible for the closure of the manufacturing plant that closed in the Bush administration. And most egregiously, the same people who want to gut Medicare and turn it into a privatized, premium-support voucher program are the ones falsely accusing Obama of cutting Medicare by $716 billion.

If the Republican ticket were not so absolutely insistent on telling their big lies, perhaps comparing their strategy to the person who made the big lie famous would not be so apt. Did Chairman Burton say that the Republicans are Nazis? No. Did he say that they’re shameless propagandists who have no problem lying to the world? Absolutely. And on that, Romney and Ryan are guilty as charged.

UPDATE: Burton has issued a statement:

“To correct press reports of my recent comments about Republican lies, I did not call Republicans Nazis nor would I ever. In fact, I didn’t even use the word.


If Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, or the Republicans are insulted by my describing their campaign tactic as the big lie – I most humbly apologize to them or anyone who might have been offended by that comment.”

My suggestion would be…if you’re offended by people calling you a liar, stop lying.

6 thoughts on “No, John Burton did not compare the Republican Party to Nazis”

  1. He could have made the point without invoking Goebbels.  We all know that when someone makes that reference, then that becomes the news story.  Burton should have known better.

    In addition he said this:

    “That was Goebbels, a big lie, they said they don’t care about facts.  They’re going to lie so, I mean, that’s not pejorative to them, they probably wear it as a compliment.”

    We could debate what is the particular pejorative (Goebbels or lying), but if it’s not really clear, then one can make the conclusion that he did, in fact, say that the GOP feels complimented when compared to Goebbels.

    It doesn’t do our party any favors when a leader talks like this.

  2. …even a numb coot like me knows that any reference to the evil of the Nazis or its followers tarnishes anyone mentioned in the same breath.  Burton did not specifically call anyone any name but it is simply too soon, too much and over the top.

    That said, do not expect anything from the honchos at Calitics as Burton is the Patron Saint of Progressivism in NorCal.  They can ignore, but they can’t condemn…. I bet that cfinnie would not have made a comment like this…

    Also, what is with Dante here thinking himself a progressive…. at least I doubt his credentials from a baseball standpoint.  He roots for the Dudgers.  A second-fiddle LA team that is the height of corporatism- spending recklessly like a drunk sailor on leave, trying to attract 1%ers, in bed with Fox TV, owned by hedge fund moguls… get a new team Dante as the Dudgers are hurting your cred.

    May I, and several other Calitics fans, suggest the San Francisco Giants?  They are a working class team, overcoming adversity (and that huge Zito contract) to deliver hope and cheer to its fans.. and delivering October baseball.  Try it Dante… you may like it.

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