A sure harbinger of the approaching Political Silly Season is candidates for public office making modern-day comparisons to Adolf Hitler.
On Tuesday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, an all-but-certain candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, made such a reference regarding the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine.
Not to be outdone, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly posted a Twitter message Tuesday that compared President Barack Obama's gun control policies with those of Hitler, Joseph Stalin and North Korea's Kim Jong Il.
Whew! Those are mighty strong words and, in our view, neither advances the public discourse much.
Clinton made her statement in a speech at -- of all places -- the Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach's annual fundraiser.
A day later Clinton wisely "clarified" her remarks after a speech at UCLA, where she offered a far more measured tone.
"I just want people to have a little historic perspective. I'm not making a comparison, certainly, but I am recommending that we perhaps can learn from this tactic that has been used before," she said.
Donnelly, on the other hand, made no attempt to temper his statement.
"Tyranny is the daily purpose of dictators," he said in a statement, "and I will not apologize for pointing out that our current president acts more like a dictator than a leader of a free people in a Constitutional Republic."
There are a few names that are so toxic that their mere utterance in any form of comparison can create an uproar. Hitler is one of them. We include Stalin on that list as well.
Both men were nothing short of despotic murderers.
It is true that credible reports continue to circulate of Putin's abuse of human rights within Russia, and now he has invaded a sovereign neighbor. But he certainly is not Hitler, who tried to eradicate the Jewish population and to conquer all of Europe, including Russia.
Mind you, we're not defending Putin's actions. His incursion must be stopped. We believe strong economic sanctions are needed.
What is not needed is for such an experienced political figure as Clinton to utter the words "Putin" and "Hitler" so close together -- especially while diplomatic efforts to solve the crisis are afoot.
We are less surprised by Donnelly's hyperbole. He's an extremely long-shot candidate running to unseat Jerry Brown. Besides, in 2012 Donnelly pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of carrying a loaded Colt .45 in his carry-on bag at a Southern California airport. Enough said.
Spirited public policy debates are good for our nation, but when we engage in them, let's resolve to leave the charter members of the Despots Hall of Shame on the sidelines.