Ever since the Republican governor called the IRS "the new Gestapo" during his weekly radio address on Saturday (because it's going to make us buy health insurance under Obamacare, which is apparently a Gestapo thing?), he seems to have realized it was a bad idea. But damned if he can't stop reiterating his own point whenever reporters get him going. On Tuesday, the Boston Herald picked up a report from the Portland Press Herald that the governor had called Emily Chaleff, director of the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine, to apologize. The governor issued a statement that said "Clearly, what has happened is that the use of the word Gestapo has clouded my message," the Press Herald's Steve Mistler reported. But "at the same time, LePage told WMTW-TV in an interview Monday: 'It was never intended to offend anyone and if someone’s offended, then they ought to be goddamned mad at the federal government.'"
Then on Thursday came an even bigger non-walk back. The governor's comment still fresh on people's minds, he chatted with Paul Heintz, a reporter from Seven Days, a Vermont alt-weekly, at a fundraiser in Burlington. He started out by apologizing to the Anti-Defamation League but then, when pressed... went right back to comparing the IRS to the Gestapo. We transcribed part of his conversation below. The audio is at Seven Days' aptly named (in this case) Blurt blog.
LePage: "What I’m trying to say is that the holocaust was a horrific crime against humanity, and frankly I would never want to see that repeated. Maybe the IRS isn’t quite as bad [pause] yet."
Heintz: "But their headed in that direction?"
LePage: "They’re headed in that direction."
Heintz: "So you have a sense of what the Gestapo did during WWII?"
LePage: "They killed a lot of people"
Heintz: "And so the IRS is headed in that direction? In the direction of killing a lot of people?"
Heintz: "Are you serious?"
LePage: "Very serious. You know why?"
Heintz: "Tell me."
LePage: "Rationing. They ration healthcare in Canada. That’s why a lot of people from Canada come down to the U.S. … I’m saying the federal government is taking away the freedom to make choices."
Later, LePage seemed to come to his senses again, Politico's Kevin Robillard noted, adding, "The Holocaust is probably a bad example." But it's an example he's brought up over and over again, in what may be the world's first case of Nazi-analogy Tourette's syndrome.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.