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Politicians: Give Obama a chance

Ga. congressman’s comments draw criticism

POSTED: November 20, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Rep. Paul Broun got his share of publicity last week after voicing fears President-elect Barack Obama could be planning to rule as a Marxist dictator with his own domestic security force.

"That’s exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany, and it’s exactly what the Soviet Union did," Broun said. "In fact, every fascist dictatorship has been established basically this way, by establishing a national police force or a national security force that’s answerable to the one in power. That’s the reason I’m so fearful of it."

Broun had sent mixed signals on Tuesday about retracting his comments, saying in a radio interview that he regretted the way they have been perceived while at the same time issuing a written statement defending them.

But spokeswoman Jessica Morris said Wednesday the congressman is "not taking back anything he said."

However, regardless of political views, local politicians agree he probably jumped the gun by making those remarks before Obama has even been inaugurated.

"He is the president whether we like it or not," said Rep. Carl Rogers, R-Gainesville. "You need to think through something before you make a comment. ... We don’t need to be making comments like that."

Rogers said he knows Broun and thinks he likely just spoke before he realized the impact his statement would have. However, he said he has heard many people say they are nervous about the new president.

"A lot of the voters do have a concern," Rogers said. "Hopefully he’s not that much an extremist, but there’s still a lot of unknowns out there."

Rogers said we will have to watch to learn what kind of president Obama will be.

"Obviously he’s a very smart individual," Rogers said. "Let’s just see how he performs."

Broun defended his comments, saying he was not comparing Obama to Hitler.

"It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is he’s the one who proposed this national security force," Broun added. "You have to remember that Adolf Hitler was elected in a Democratic Germany. ... I’m not comparing him to Adolf Hitler. Don’t get me wrong. What I’m saying is there is the potential of going down that road."

Rep. James Mills, R- Chestnut Mountain, said he thinks Obama does have socialist tendencies.

"I do think that spreading the wealth mentality is socialist, and Barack Obama has been unapologetic about his theory of spreading the wealth. And in America we’ve always believed that you work hard for what you earn and you work to better yourself and you don’t necessarily take from those who are working to give to those who are unwilling to work," Mills said.

Like Rogers, Mills said he doesn’t think it’s fair to make remarks like Broun’s before Obama has a chance to prove himself in office.

"I think it’s a little early yet to say anything and only time will tell. We can only make judgements based on what he said during his campaign. I think we know very little about Barack Obama, and we should pray for him," Mills said.

Audrey Haynes, an associate professor of political science at the University of Georgia, said she is not sure why Broun felt compelled to make such a statement.

"That’s not something you expect from a statesman," Haynes said. "It wasn’t very well researched. ... If you’re going to pick something to throw a dart at, you should make sure that you’re pick something that’s truly questionable."

Haynes said she isn’t sure if there was any political motivation for Broun to say those remarks.

"Paul Broun already got elected," Haynes said. "I don’t think there was a really strong motivation for that. Post election, when everybody’s talking about rolling up their sleeves and ... working from the ground up so they can win the next election ... you don’t hear that from any of the more senior people who are Republicans."

Haynes said the public often tires of the negativity surrounding elections, and dragging out partisan conflict can take a toll.

"There is some point where it becomes not constructive criticism but more vitriol. ... It can be bad for our institutions, it can be bad for our public morale, it can be bad for a lot of things," Haynes said.

Broun’s office put out a written statement Tuesday afternoon that included no apology and reiterated his concerns about Obama.

"I never called Mr. Obama a communist, nor did I accuse him of being Hitler, but I do not apologize for stating the obvious: his socialist views are out of the mainstream of American political thought, and history shows that civilian national security forces bode ill for citizens," the statement said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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