Republicans STARTING To Get Antsy About Nazi Steve King In Their Congress
Happy Halloween, boys and ghouls! If you happen to see Steve King in a white sheet tonight, well, it's probably not a costume but just another Wednesday for the notoriously racist Iowa congressman. He's not even subtle about it. The guy had a Confederate flag displayed on his desk for a while, and Iowa was a Union state. You wouldn't catch Peter King of New York with a Red Sox banner in his office.
King's white supremacist beliefs are a fairly open secret, like Liberace's sexual preferences in the 1980s. He even appeared on an MSNBC panel a couple years ago, which he had to know was televised because of all the cameras, and claimed no other "sub-group of people" ever contributed anything to society that matched what white people had achieved with minor assistance from slave labor.
Last year, King tweeted that you "can't restore our civilization with someone else's babies." Republicans collectively shouted, "Yikes! Not out loud!" and House Speaker Paul Ryan, always a profile in moral courage, responded that he just assumed King "misspoke." King then went on TV and misspoke some more. Mr. King, if you're going to accuse my people of peeing in America's gene pool, at least do me the courtesy of wearing a tie.
For a while, it looked like we'd settled into a status quo where Republican leadership had no problem with a raving bigot in their caucus who retweets white nationalist garbage. Conservatives spent more time criticizing the Clintons for "sharing a stage" with Louis Farrakhan at Aretha Franklin's funeral. But there are signs of a disturbance in the racist force. Maybe it was King's endorsement this month of "white genocide" conspiracy theorist and all-around unpleasant person Faith Goldy for Toronto mayor or his meeting last week with some "totally not Nazis" on a trip funded in part by a Holocaust memorial group. Whatever proved the last straw, people who are not Paul Ryan started to speak out.
Rep. Steve Stivers of Ohio, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, declared on Twitter Tuesday: "Congressman Steve King's recent comments, actions, and retweets are completely inappropriate. We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms, and I strongly condemn this behavior."
King is up for re-election this year in a district Donald Trump won by 27 percentage points, but his campaign, such as it is, is reportedly broke. His Democratic challenger J.D. Scholten is hitting him hard, and there's some evidence of a tighter race than expected. Worse for King is that Iowa no longer has "straight-ticket" voting, so Iowa Republicans will have to actively choose the Confederate-sympathizing Nazi promoter. He can no longer just hang out between "Seinfeld" and "ER" like a racist "Caroline in the City."
Yesterday, King responded to the backlash with a random collection of buzzwords from a library copy of Ronald Reagan speeches crudely stitched together with classic Trump rage tweeting.
All that "shining city" spiel seems hollow when King said the following just last week:
"What does this diversity bring that we don't already have... Mexican food, Chinese food, those things — well, that's fine. But what does it bring that we don't have that is worth the price?"
Yeah, are Chipotle and Panda Express really worth the hassle of all those immigrants with their cantaloupe-sized calves? Don't try to suddenly play nice now, Mr. King, when you're behind racist attack ads like the ones against House candidate Antonio Delgado in New York.
No, New York "can't afford" a representative who has degrees from Oxford and Harvard Law -- not when he released a "rap" album with "rap" music back in 2007. Did we mention he's black? That Sith Lord hoodie he's wearing just screams his evil intent for the predominately white swing district.
But I'm being unfair: Steve King had nothing to do with this ad. It's from Paul Ryan's own super-PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, which also ran ads claiming Ohio Democrat Aftab Pureval "can't be trusted" and sold out Americans, and similar in just about every district that has a Democrat of color running for Congress. King's true problem is a lack of subtlety, which is detrimental to the mostly false image Republicans like Ryan wish to promote. For "polite" conservatives, every day is Halloween and they need to keep that mask of "civility" securely fastened.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He recently fled Seattle, where he did theatre work for Book-It Rep and Cafe Nordo.