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On Thursday, Georgia Republican Congressman Paul Broun insisted he would not sit with Democrats during next week's State of the Union address when "Barack Obama spews his venom." That's quite a charge, coming as it does from a man who equated health care reform to the "War of Yankee Aggression", compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler and Karl Marx, and warned Democrats would declare martial law.
Broun's latest tirade came in response to a radio talk show caller who requested "you would ask the Republicans in the Senate and House to not take the bait and sit with the Democrats in the State of the Union speech."
"I agree with you wholeheartedly...And sitting together being kissy kissy is just another way to try to silence Republicans and also to show, to keep the American people from seeing how few of them there are in the US House now, and when people stand up to what the Democrats are doing when Barack Obama spews his venom, then if they're scattered throughout the Republicans, it won't be as noticeable if the Republicans sit apart."
As it turns out, it was Broun who began spewing his poison at the President before Barack Obama had taken the oath of office.
Just days after the 2008 election, Politico reported, Broun said "he fears that President-elect Obama will establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship."
"It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he's the one who proposed this national security force," Rep. Paul Broun said of Obama in an interview Monday with The Associated Press. "I'm just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may -- may not, I hope not -- but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism."
"That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did," Broun said. "When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist."
He also spoke of a "socialistic elite" - Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid - who might use a pandemic disease or natural disaster as an excuse to declare martial law.
"They're trying to develop an environment where they can take over," he said. "We've seen that historically."
That September, Broun again decried President Obama's supposed authoritarian streak.
He told a meeting of the Morgan County Republicans on Wednesday night that Obama already has or will have the three things he needs to make himself a dictator: a national police force, gun control and control over the press.
"He has the three things that are necessary to establish an authoritarian government," Broun said. "And so we need to be ever-vigilant, because freedom is precious."
On health care in particular, Dr, Broun has been especially vituperative.
In October 2009, Broun joined Paul Ryan, Sarah Palin and the long list of Republicans calling for the privatization of Medicare. That same month, Broun echoed Mitch McConnell, Tom Delay and President George W. Bush in claiming that no one is denied health care in America because "you just go to an emergency room." As ThinkProgress recalled:
One of the most radical opponents of health care reform is Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA). He has said that a public option would "kill people." Last Tuesday, Broun was confronted by a constituent at a health care town hall who explained that he has gone into debt because he can't afford insurance for his major depressive disorder. In response to his constituent's story, Broun said that "people who have depression, who have chronic diseases in this country...can always get care in this country by going to the emergency room."
Of course, health care is worst in precisely those states where Republicans poll best. Nevertheless, as the health care reform debate reached its climax in March, Broun took to the House floor to show that he is still fighting the Civil War:
"If ObamaCare passes, that free insurance card that's in people's pockets is gonna be as worthless as a Confederate dollar after the War Between The States -- the Great War of Yankee Aggression."
(With his nostalgia for the antebellum South, Broun has plenty of company among the neo-Confederates of the Republican Party.)
In the aftermath of his jaw-dropping November 2008 remarks about President-elect Obama, Paul Broun explained:
"You have to remember that Adolf Hitler was elected in a democratic Germany. I'm not comparing him to Adolf Hitler. What I'm saying is there is the potential of going down that road."
And the man who yesterday accused President Obama of spewing venom added the usual faux apology:
"I apologize to anybody that's taken offense at that...I'm taking a wait-and-see attitude. I'm not throwing any stones."
(This piece also appears at Perrspectives.)