Sunday’s speech by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), comparing opponents of the health-care bill to Nazis, drew a response from Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.):
“For the most part, I certainly recall the long conversations that the ranking Republican, Sen. Grassley, and the chairman of the committee had. I know they worked in good faith and it would be best if we did that. It’s to that end that I want to speak to some comments that a colleague earlier made today, and I don’t know whether it’s frustration or maybe just the lens through which partisans view things and their opponents, unfortunately, that spawned the remarks earlier today from one of our Democratic colleagues. But in either event, his characterization of his Republican colleagues, I think, requires response. . . .
“Now, I wouldn’t believe my ears, these references to one of the first and most vicious attacks on the Jews by Nazis, hanging of blacks. The majority leader’s remarks last week comparing the Republicans’ position on health care to the pro-slavery movement were largely ignored as the clumsy offhand ramblings of a partisan, but the references earlier today appeared to be not off-the-cuff mistakes but prepared text, deliberately delivered by one of the brightest minds of the Senate. . . .
“There are honorable people on both sides of the aisle who obviously have to agree to disagree. But our colleague attributes no good motive to Republicans whose ‘passions’ are simply ‘malignant’ and ‘vindictive.’ . . . I wonder if my colleagues really believe that our position is animated by hatred. Why else would we oppose this legislation? . . .
“Does my colleague really believe that this is why I oppose the legislation, or my colleague, John McCain? . . . I don’t like this bill. That’s why I oppose it. . . .
“But finally, my colleague turned the world upside-down by arguing about the only reason that we’re here the week before Christmas is because of Republican bad behavior, that we ruined the holidays . . . because we followed the procedures of the Senate that require the reading of the bill. . . The reason it’s read is so our staff would in fact have time to read it, to advise us — we didn’t all have time to read it ourselves — and to advise the public, our constituents, of what’s in it. Again, we received it yesterday, we’re voting on it tonight. That’s very little time to know everything that’s in there, and the more we learn about what’s in there, the angrier a lot of people get. . . .
“This is why we oppose the bill. It’s why we don’t like the process. We respect what our constituents are telling us. We believe this bill will be bad for them and it will be bad for our country. Our Democratic colleagues have a different position. Neither their position nor ours is malignant, nor should they be expressed vindictively.”
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