There are a few names in modern history that are just so toxic that they create an uproar. Hitler is one of them.
On Tuesday, in a speech at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach, Calif., annual fundraiser, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton compared recent actions by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine to those of Adolf Hitler.
Clinton, a likely presidential candidate, made a historical comparison between Putin's actions, which he claims are to protect minority Russians in Ukraine, and those taken by Hitler outside Germany ahead of World War II.
“Now if this sounds familiar, it's what Hitler did back in the '30s,” she said. “All the Germans that were ... the ethnic Germans, the Germans by ancestry who were in places like Czechoslovakia and Romania and other places, Hitler kept saying they're not being treated right. I must go and protect my people, and that's what's gotten everybody so nervous.”
Putin put armed forces into the Ukrainian peninsula in Crimea over the weekend, insisting Russia has a right to protect its interests and the nearly 60 percent of the population that identifies themselves as ethnic Russians, shortly after a pro-Russian government was ousted.
Clinton called Putin a man who believes his mission is to restore Russian greatness.
“When he looks at Ukraine, he sees a place that he believes is by its very nature part of Mother Russia,” she said.
The action created the tensest situation between the two superpowers since the Cold War. So it's no wonder Clinton would see the similarities.
But Putin is not Hitler, who tried to eradicate the Jewish population and to conquer all of Europe, including Russia.
Nor is Putin worth defending.
Clinton clarified her remarks Wednesday at a speech at UCLA, where she offered a far more measured tone.
Clinton would be sensible to heed her own words.