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Special Report

Democrats Ignoring President's Call for Civility?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report ," January 20,2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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REP. STEVE COHEN, D-TENN.: It's a government takeover of health. A big lie, just like Goebbels. That's the same kind of thing. The Germans said enough about the Jews and the people believed it, and you had the Holocaust.

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE, D-TEXAS: Job-killing, this is killing Americans if we take this bill away, if we repeal this bill.

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CHRIS WALLACE, GUEST HOST: Democratic congressman Steve Cohen and Sheila Jackson Lee during the House debate over repealing health care reform, did they violate the president's call for more civility in our politics? And we’re back now with our panel.

So Mara, today, Congressman Cohen walked back those comments comparing the House Republicans talking points to Nazi propaganda, but on the other hand he said Republicans are still lying. So does that get him off the hook?

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: You know what, lying in this day and age is a benign accusation. I would say that whenever anybody invokes the Holocaust for anything other than genocide they immediately lose the argument. I myself tend to tune out when I hear that because it's meaningless applied to anything other than genocide. So I think that that has no place in any discourse at all.

Whether we're now seeing the erosion of the new civility, which lasted for how long, I don’t know maybe a week; I don’t know I think it’s a little better than it was.  People are trying to be on the better behavior, even though we already see exceptions. Certainly the Republican leadership has stopped referring to the bill as a job killing bill, that it's a job destroying bill. But I think it would be naive to think that there was going to be some great new era of niceness and civility.

WALLACE: Charles, The New York Times noted in its coverage today that most of the provocative, more provocative,  inflammatory language came from Democrats most likely because they were on the losing side so all they had was rhetoric.  Is all of this attention to words sensible?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think it's a bogus issue that was concocted, particularly after the Tucson shooting. It's a continuation of what we heard from Cohen and Jackson Lee the continuation of the liberal hypocrisy on this.

The worst in uncivil discourse in the last decade occurred in the Bush years when the president was vilified, attacked, he was demonized, compared to Nazis. He was called Hitler. There was the article in The New Republic, a leading liberal magazine that began, by an editor, "I hate George Bush. There I’ve said it."

Howard Dean, a not insignificant Democrat, a former head of the Democratic National Committee, said openly, "I hate Republicans and everything they stand for." That is literally hate speech. I do not remember the times when the main stream media wagging a finger and pulling a chin about the rise of uncivil discourse at the time. So I don't take any of this seriously.

There was an attempt by liberals, an obscene attempt to link conservatives with the Tucson shooting through this accusation of civil discourse, and I'm not surprised that uncivil discourse is quiteprominent on the left as we saw today.

WALLACE: Steve, I want to get to another subject that frankly I think is pretty shocking. A union group called ‘Wal-Mart Free D.C.’, obviously against Wal-Mart as part of the Service Employee Union, SEIU, is protesting construction of a new Wal-Mart in Washington, not a big deal.

But they’re holding a demonstration tonight outside the developer's home. And they’ve put out this leaflet advertising the protest where you can see on the right-hand side, a crosshairs target. They list there the address of the developer. That does seem to be going over the line.

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: It absolutely crosses the line, but you’ve seen this before. Protests of the big banks, people showing up at home. In one case the homeowner wasn't home but his kids were home, and you had union thugs on the front lawn, basically threatening the family.

What’s so interesting to pick up on Charles' point it's always when conservatives are ascendant that we have this brow-furrowing in the mainstream media over civility. You saw this in particular in the lead up to and the aftermath of the 1994 election. There was an article published on Election Day in the Washington Post, long article in the Style section talking about the new incivility and talk radio and the problems it was causing.  You see this when conservatives are doing well, and I think it's a double standard.

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