Comparing President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler in a letter posted to former presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche’s website, state Sen. Perry Clark, D-Louisville, calls for the president to step down over what the Kentucky lawmaker calls the “unconstitutional” debt ceiling legislation. Using official state letterhead, Clark says the recent agreement to raise the debt ceiling and create a 12-member super committee to reduce spending violates the U.S. Constitution. The south Louisville Democrat goes further, saying the bill is a “direct echo” of legislation that handed over power to the “murderous Hitler government” in 1933.
“My fellow citizens, after much reflection on the passage of last week’s debt ceiling and austerity legislation in Washington, I have decided that ‘enough is enough.’,” he writes.
Clark was unavailable for comment, but he confirmed in an interview with LEO Weekly that he wrote the letter and that it speaks for itself.
The wild comparison and controversial comments present more than a usual gaffe for party officials to clean up, however. Besides being a prominent state Senator in the General Assembly, Clark is a legislative chairman for the Jefferson County Democratic Party and the group’s by-laws mandate those chairs pledge to support the party nominee.
“I’ m surprised and shocked at Perry Clark. Surprised and shocked. I didn’t know that he was that type of person,” says political activist Clarence Yancey, who serves as the party’s 43rd legislative district chair. “I didn’t want to believe it, but he should step down if he’s against the party and the party rules.”
Yancey says it’s up to Clark’s constituents if he should relinquish his Senate seat, but he did add that Clark should switch to LaRouche’s political party.
“The president tried his best to negotiate between two extreme positions in Washington and it doesn’t please a lot of people. It doesn’t please me either, but to call for the president to be impeached and to say that his actions are unconstitutional is a serious accusation that concerns me a great deal,” says state Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, adding the Hitler comparison was out of bounds. “This seems strikingly uncharacteristic of Sen. Clark and I’m not sure exactly what to make of it, honestly.”
Other Democratic officials who raised concern about Clark’s comments believe it reflects how the party statewide has been either complicit or reticent in the face of attacks on the president.
During the annual Fancy Farm picnic last week, observers noted Republican statewide candidates hammered Mr. Obama repeatedly, but that no Democratic candidates came to his defense publicly. And some Democrats are seeing that silence bleed over into the city.
“It is vexing to me to no end that Democrats in this state have not and do not stand up on behalf of this president,” says state Rep. Reginald Meeks, D-Louisville, adding he read Clark’s letter and disagrees with all of his statement. “President Obama and his administration have been responsible for millions of federal dollars coming into our state to help on everything from natural disaster to health care. And this party has not gone out of its way to share with the public what benefits this administration has brought to the commonwealth.”
Meeks says Clark’s comments create more problems for the Democratic Party statewide and a probe is possible due to his use of an official letterhead.
“Sen. Clark is a dear friend and a very independent thinker, but I think these problems have to be addressed on the state Democratic Party level, on the county Democratic Party level and there might possibly be an ethics issue with the use of his official state letterhead,” says Meeks.
Asked about the letter, Kentucky Democratic Party spokesman Matt McGrath said Clark is entitled to his opinion, but “this is not one we share.”
A spokesman for U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., who voted against the debt ceiling bill Clark cited in his message, told WFPL the congressman strongly disagrees with the comments, supports Mr. Obama and will work hard to re-elect him next year.