It's a new year, and America has a new president, but Iowa is still blessed with the same old Rep. Steve King - a bizarre breed of bigot who besmirches the good name of Iowa further with every day he spends representing the state's 5th District in Washington, D.C.
Last March, King warned that Al Qaeda terrorists would take to the streets and dance in celebration if Barack Obama were elected president. Not long after making this incendiary claim, King appeared on Fox News and reaffirmed it. He even went so far as to suggest he would apologize if Obama won and his prediction didn't come true.
Following up on this story, Politico, an online political- news outlet, contacted King a few days before Obama's inauguration and asked him about his previous statements. Though he offered no apology, King was willing to acknowledge that the terrorists' celebrations that he had prophesied have thus far failed to come to pass.
"They have made statements against Obama," Politico reported he said. "This thing has shifted, and now I think Obama's position of immediate withdrawal [from the war zone] has changed."
However, rather than leaving well enough alone and refraining from offering any new offensive remarks, King went on to suggest to the Politico reporter that Obama's choice to include his middle name, Hussein, in the swearing-in ceremony was "bizarre" and "a double-standard." Apparently, it's King's view that because various right-wing commentators suffered criticism for highlighting the new president's full name, the president himself should also be barred from referencing it publicly.
The disingenuous nature of such a complaint is entirely transparent. Using Obama's full name simply to refer to the president has never been considered offensive. Complaints about highlighting that his middle name is Hussein only arose when it was clear from the context or tone of the usage that the speaker was attempting to draw some sort of connection between the president and former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Further evidence of King's ongoing hostility toward the president can be found in his refusal to attend a post-inauguration reception that Iowa's congressional delegation held for residents of the state who were in Washington, D.C., at the time. Radio Iowa has reported that a King aide asserted that the congressman's snub was a result of his opinion that his campaign donors wouldn't approve of him contributing the required funds toward refreshments at the reception. However, classy Republicans such as Sen. Charles Grassley and Rep. Tom Latham apparently had no objection to ponying up their $100 contributions.
Regardless of the extent to which King is an embarrassment to Iowa, it's highly unlikely he can be defeated by a Democratic challenger. Even with a spirited candidate such as Rob Hubler under the Obama-Biden ticket, which won the state so commandingly, Iowa's 5th District was simply too conservative to elect anyone who wasn't a Republican.
But there remain two plausible scenarios under which King could be dethroned. First, a challenger who looked more like reasonably rational Iowa Republicans such as Grassley or Latham could go after King in the primary. Second, given demographic trends, Iowa may well lose a U.S. House seat after the next census. Though such a development would unfortunately reduce the state's legislative clout, it seems unlikely that a candidate as far out in the wilderness of right-wing madness as King would be able to survive following any such redistricting.
One way or another, hopefully, a more serious politician who is actually interested in effectively lobbying for the people of Iowa will eventually succeed in sending King back to Kiron, where he belongs.
(Cross-posted from the DI's main site.)