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The Tea party really does have some rum members. Fresh from having weathered one storm about witchy hopefuls in Delaware, the spotlight this week shifts to Ohio and falls squarely onto Rich Lott.

Rich has been on the TV and been making comments to Associated Press, “I don’t see anything strange” he dissembled to AP “about educating the public about events that happened. And that’s the point of historians re-enacting”.

Rich is the Grand Old Party’s hopeful for the House from Ohio. Only he has been and gone and got himself dressed up as an SS officer in a re-enactment society. That’s him in the photo. The web is alive with it all. Posters for him and against him flash across the ether. Is this vile anti jewish holocaust apologia, or simply the right to open and free speech, as defended by the first amendment?

Who knows, but as a politician it’s plain bloody stupid. If you are standing for election – even if what you do is free speech and you don’t secretly wish a resurgence of the National Socialist movement – it is still the following: It is tactless, foolish, ill timed and above all shows that this particular politician has a tin ear for the thoughts and feelings of a whole raft of the population as well as not a glimmering of how this will play abroad. There are still enough victims of the SS alive, and close relatives of those who died, who will take this as deeply, deeply hurtful. The United States is having enough trouble with its world image after having driven the world economy over the cliff, raising generational hostility to it and its allies in the middle east, and squandering the hope and open-handed goodwill proffered by Europe, without unforced errors like this. So let’s dress up the candidates as Nazis, and as SS Nazis at that because, darhlink, the cut and styling was just so much better than the scruffy working class old Wehrmacht, and then wonder why America is being beaten over the head abroad with these images. Mein Gott und kleine fisch.

It may be some comfort, but America does not have a monopoly of this sort of thing. Perhaps there is a little Nazi in us all. Prince Harry went to a “Colonials and Natives” party in 2005 dressed up in Great-Great Uncle Edward’s North Africa Corp summer kit.

That went down well. Mind you the concept of “colonials and natives” as a theme sounded even dodgier than the dressing up.

 And, best of all, (if only for the photo showing him getting well into character ) was a Welsh Liberal local councillor from Porthcawl, Sean Aspey, who dressed up for a re-enactment of the TV show “Allo Allo” for his fortieth birthday party in 2009. He decided (of course!) to be a Nazi stormtrooper. And then, wait for it, uploaded the photos to his Facebook account which, via Welsh Press, is where the photo comes from!

Aspey was suspended from the party. Will Rich Lott be treated similarly?

Copyright David Macadam 2010