Monday, October 26, 2009



An upstate Republican who's eying a run for governor has compared Shelly Silver, the Orthodox Jewish speaker of the state Assembly, with Adolf Hitler and the anti-Christ.

And now Erie County Executive Chris Collins says he's really, really sorry.

The slur came during a speech Saturday night to fellow Republicans in Buffalo, while slamming Albany's notorious "three men in a room" budget process - in which the governor and legislative leaders make deals in private.

Collins referenced famed French seer Nostradamus' prediction that there would be three anti-Christs before the Apocalypse.

He said it's generally accepted the first was Napoleon and the second Hitler.

He said he was "pretty sure" the third is Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, two attendees at the Erie County GOP's annual fall fund-raiser at the Adam's Mark Hotel said.

"No one clapped. No one cheered. No one laughed," said a Western New York Republican who was at the event. "I know I didn't. I thought it was a little harsh to be calling someone an anti-Christ." ...

Er, yeah.

It's not that criticizing Shelly (short for Sheldon) Silver is taboo in this state -- far from it. For a long time, lots of people have criticized the state government here, in which Silver (head of the lower house of the legislature), the Senate president, and the governor settle a lot of matters themselves, with no input from anyone else (hence "three men in a room"). Even one Jewish leader asked for a comment thinks that kind of criticism is valid:

"I can understand criticizing what goes on in Albany, three men in a room bothers many people. But certainly this is the wrong way to do it," said Dan Kantor, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation. "Calling him the Anti-Christ, which is to me, is maybe even worse," he said.

But, er, the Antichrist? And Hitler? Yikes.

(Collins has apologized, however, and it does seem to be a real apology, not a "sorry if my remarks were misinterpreted" apology. Though it may be a "please please please God don't let my career die" apology.)

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