On October 8th, this column reported that Arizona state rep. Brenda Barton (R) had lashed out at President Obama following the government shutdown, referring to him as "Der Fuhrer" (among many other colorful accusations) on her Facebook page.
Yesterday, Barton issued a statement that, though standing by her remarks, allegedly sought to "clarify that I never used the word or said that President Obama was 'Hitler.'"
In her statement, Barton claimed that she used the phrase for "emphasis" and not to suggest there is a similarity between the president and Nazis. Her post had been critical of the fact that National Parks Service officers had been enforcing the government shutdown at national memorials.
"What I did suggest, rather directly, was that the National Park Service enforcement personnel (referring to them as 'thugs' for their reported behavior) were simply following orders of 'their leader' – and I used the German phrase for emphasis, Der Fuhrer," said Barton. "I am referencing the Presidents behavior as indicated by his actions. The Merriam-Webster New Collegiate Dictionary defines 'Fuhrer' as '(2) a leader exercising tyrannical authority.'"
Barton either had not checked Merriam-Webster herself beforehand, or was hoping nobody else would in turn. Merriam-Webster's online dictionary notes the word, which means "the leader" in German, was the "title assumed by Adolf Hitler."
Nice try Brenda.