Hillary Clinton Insists She’s Not Comparing Putin to Hitler While Comparing Putin to Hitler (Again)

By
Photo: MIKHAIL METZEL/AFP/GettyImages

After her comments last night at a private fund-raiser made news — because Hillary Clinton + Russia + Nazis = duh, news — Hillary Clinton attempted today to clarify why she's mentioning Putin and Hitler in the same breath.

"What I said yesterday was that the claims by President Putin and other Russians that they had to go into Crimea and maybe further into eastern Ukraine because they had to protect the Russian minorities — that is reminiscent of claims that were made in the 1930s when Germany under the Nazis kept talking about how they had to protect German minorities in Poland and Czechoslovakia and elsewhere throughout Europe," she said this afternoon at UCLA.

If that sounds like a historical comparison, that's because it is, even though Clinton wants, perhaps wisely, to quibble over semantics.

"I just want everybody to have a little historic perspective," she continued today. "I am not making a comparison, certainly, but I am recommending that we perhaps can learn from this tactic that has been used before." Except she is comparing them, certainly, in the sense that she's noting the similarities between their actions. Clinton may not be equating the two men or their behavior, but even if the analogy is sloppy, as some have argued, she wouldn't have made it again if she didn't want to seem tough on the issue. By denying "making a comparison," she's hoping to simultaneously avoid offending anyone. That's a struggle she'll likely face for the next few years.

Clinton also called Putin "a tough guy with a thin skin," and stressed her wisdom as a former secretary of State. "I've had a lot of experience — well, not only with him but with people like that — but in particular with President Putin," she said. "I know that his political vision is of a greater Russia. I said when I was still secretary that his goal is to re-Sovietize Russia’s periphery, but in the process he is squandering the potential of such a great nation, the nation of Russia, and threatening instability and even the peace of Europe." Not unlike you-know-who did.