In the cauldron of partisan politics, hyperbole is often substituted for reason and rational thought. It is done by both Democrats and Republicans.
Mike Kelly, a freshman Republican representing part of Warren County, has joined the cacophony of vitriolic rhetoric with remarks he made on Wednesday comparing a mandate that private insurance plans provide contraception coverage to the attack on Pearl Harbor and the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
How is he going to top that? Perhaps he will compare the administration's push for the expiration of tax reductions for the wealthiest Americans with the Holocaust, increased environmental regulations with the Inquisition.
In many sports where judges are called upon to score athletes' performances with subtle criteria - figure skating, for instance - the high and low scores are tossed out to prevent biased judges from throwing the competition.
One hopes that reasonable people will throw out the bellicosity and the hyperbole on both sides and seek out the middle for some semblance of reason, some path by which an issue can be judged on merits rather than emotion.
What happens when politicians and activists make the kind of statements Kelly made on Wednesday and then reiterated on Thursday is that they undermine the position they are trying to advance. In the best case, a reasonable person will simply ignore them; in the worst case, turn away in disgust and be prompted to adopt the opposite view.
No matter how you feel about the health care law that was debated and voted on by the Congress and signed into law by the President, comparing a part of it to Pearl Harbor and 9/11 does a disservice to the thousands who died horribly in those events.
And, it disrespects the intelligence of the American people.