A couple of days ago I mentioned the comments of Sen. Santorum during the debate over judicial filibusters. Yes, he demonstrated fairly weak rhetorical ability in creating a weird hypothetical involving Hitler and the occupation of Paris, and when you reference Hitler in a debate your opponents are of course going to see your reference as calling them Nazis. But if you read his words and understand the meaning of those words it's hard to make that connection without making several assumptions.
Patterico notes the NY Times editorial smackdown of Sen. Santorum, and the "new low" that the debate has sunk to with his words. Unfortunately for the Times Patterico has a decent memory and a computer, and dug up the comments of Sen. Byrd from March of this year and the AP story that appeared in the Times.
(initial quote from historian Alan Bullock) “Hitler’s originality lay in his realization that effective revolutions, in modern conditions, are carried out with, and not against, the power of the State: the correct order of events was first to secure access to that power and then begin his revolution. Hitler never abandoned the cloak of legality; he recognized the enormous psychological value of having the law on his side. Instead, he turned the law inside out and made illegality legal.”
And that is what the nuclear option seeks to do to Rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate.
Looking at the words of Sen. Byrd he goes Sen. Santorum one better, by directly linking the actual actions of Hitler and the actions of his opponents, the Republicans. He does not, as Sen. Santorum did, create a hypothetical that did not occur, then try to liken that hypothetical situation to the actions of his opponents.
There are several things worth noting here. First Patterico notes that the Times did not feel compelled to call attention to the low rhetoric employed by Sen. Byrd in March; they did so for Sen. Santorum. He states simply
...for New York Times editors, it’s only a “new low” when a Republican does it.
Second, the NY Times was willing to use Sen. Santorum's weak hypothetical to claim that he was comparing "his Democratic colleagues to Hitler." If that's the case it is even more the case for Byrd. The "new low" is not a new low; that was reached 2 1/2 months ago.
Finally, it is not entirely certain that a hypothetical presented as it was by Santorum is akin to comparing the Democrats to Hitler. I'm willing to concede that it was stupid, and may be a comparison. If the Democrats wish to insist that it is, however, then Byrd's commentary should be even more harshly condemned, because it was undeniably a direct comparison.
UPDATE: This post linked in Will Franklin's 'Carnival of Classiness' at WILLisms.com. Check out the other entries to enhance your own classiness.