Home Depot founder and billionaire GOP donor Ken Langone is back in the news for invoking the Nazis again, another stilted analogy relating the plight of the current American rich to 1930s Germany.
Back in March, Langone lamented the rising political focus on income inequality and what he saw as the vilification of the top 1 percent. "I hope it’s not working," he told Politico. "Because if you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying in Germany. You don’t survive as a society if you encourage and thrive on envy or jealousy." After an uproar, he apologized for his remarks the next day.
But today he took back that apology and tried to clarify his original, flawed point. "[Hitler] came to power through a totally democratic process. So I simply said that just because we’re a democracy that doesn’t mean we can’t do bad things!" Langone told Capital New York. "I simply said just because we’re a democracy doesn’t mean you can’t have bad results," he added. "That's all! I stand on what I said."
Langone continued, taking aim at Rob Astorino, a Republican gubernatorial candidate in New York who previously criticized Langone's Hitler comments. "Then Astorino said, Governor Cuomo should repudiate that statement from Ken Langone. What statement did I make? My statement was that a democratic process could have bad results. You want proof? Go back to 1933. It was horrible results! I was only saying that we are, thank God, a democracy, and when our leaders pit group against group, it’s not constructive."
It's clear from these comments that Langone does not regret his analogy to Nazi Germany, an argument popular among billionaires. Thankfully, Langone went on to clarify that he thought Hitler was indeed a bad person.
"I wanted to make it clear—I said the next day I want to make it very clear, if anybody took my remarks to say I was comparing Hitler to somebody else, please accept my apologies, because that’s not what I was saying. He was a horrible evil human being. I hope he’s burning in hell for eternity for what he did. I wasn’t talking about Hitler. I was talking about an election in 1933 that had very horrible results. I hope that’s a noble statement."
His original apology, then, was not for the analogy to Nazi Germany, but to the analogy to Hitler. That's a clarification that probably doesn't make the flawed comparison any better.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.