Yesterday, the chairman of the California Democratic Party made waves with his remarks about the GOP presidential campaign. John Burton likened the Republican strategy to that of the “big lie,” a tactic used by Nazis (most famously Joseph Goebbels) which relies on the repetition of false information on a large scale until it is accepted as true by a majority of the public.
As expected, the GOP blasted Burton for his remarks and called for an apology. Burton acquiesced, but made sure to mention that he never used the word “Nazi” in his remarks. Previously at the Democratic National Convention, Burton has now flown home to California for a previously scheduled root canal.
Which is going to end up giving Burton, and Democrats, the bigger headache? Is such a comparison as this completely off-limits? What’s the difference between an untruth and a lie? Is this simply an exaggeration we should come to accept in modern politics?
Dan Schnur, Director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC; longtime political strategist