U.S. Rep Paul Broun, R-Ga., has won himself national attention for making the harshest criticism of Barack Obama since he became president-elect. What the congressman has won for his 10th Congressional District constituents, however, is a huge dose of embarrassment.
Broun, who already has a reputation among his colleagues as being something of a flake, added to that perception Monday when he said, "I may sound a bit crazy." Why? Because he fears that Obama will establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship on the nation.
"I'm just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may ... have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism," said Broun.
We think the Republican Party has a problem with Broun's big mouth. He cites as evidence of the president-elect's "radical Marxism" a proposal Obama made some months ago to establish a civilian force to help the military with national security.
In a seemingly hysterical reference, Broun proclaimed, "That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did."
In truth, Obama's call for a civilian defense corps has raised some ominous concerns. He hasn't made clear what he means by it or even if he is serious.
A lot of people were also troubled by the thug-like conduct of the mob that gathered outside of his Philadelphia headquarters on election night. If they are what he means by a civilian defense corps, then there is reason to worry.
But a more benign interpretation of Obama's campaign comments is that he was calling for an enhanced role for groups like AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps, not armed brown shirts; not even, we hope, for another civilian bureaucracy, which we also don't need.
In any event, Broun was way overboard with his partisan potshots. Maybe he just wanted to bring attention to himself. But this is not the time for Broun, or any other GOP politician, to go after Obama. He won the presidency fair and square and is entitled to a honeymoon period when every American should wish him well. After all, if his presidency succeeds America succeeds and if it fails, well, that's America's failure too -- and is something none of us should want to see.
For now, Republicans should hold their fire until Obama does something to fire at. There was plenty of criticism about things Obama said during the campaign -- but that didn't bring him down; further knocks on his campaign rhetoric won't bring him down now.
Wait until he actually does something -- something wrong -- before criticizing. Sooner or later every president makes mistakes for the loyal opposition to criticize, and Obama will be no exception. But wait for the mistakes to happen; don't manufacture them.
Republicans don't want to be defined by Broun's 'Hitler' remarks. It would make them sound like partisan, petty-minded spoil sports. Americans had their fill of that from hyper-partisan Democrats and their media allies who went way overboard piling on President Bush for the last eight years.