Steve King sounding more ignorant than usual

Which isn’t easy, considering how high he normally sets the bar.

The Huffington Post covered Representative Steve King’s speech to yesterday’s “smaller-than-expected” Tea Party rally against health care reform:

King implored the crowd to bring the nation’s capital to a sort of paralysis. Warning, erroneously, that the health care bill would fund abortion and fund care for 6.1 million illegal immigrants, he demanded that concerned citizens “continue to rise up.”

“I look back 20 years ago in the square in Prague… when tens of thousands showed up there and they shook their keys peacefully and they took over their country and they achieved their freedom back again,” he said. “If you can keep coming to this city, fill up the congressional offices across the country but jam this city. If you can get on your cell phones, and get on your Blackberries and your email, and ask people to keep coming to this town. Storm this city, fill up Washington D.C., jam this capital so they can’t move. And if tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of you show up, we will win. We will defeat this bill and you will have your liberty back.”

King stood his ground when given a chance to clarify his remarks, saying the current U.S. government is “very, very close” to the Czechoslovak Communist regime, because of “the nationalization of our liberty and the federal government taking our liberty over.”

I mentioned these comments to Mr. desmoinesdem, who has forgotten more about Czechoslovakia than King will ever know. He observed that if anything, the Obama administration resembles the government that took power after the Velvet Revolution. The administration changed some personnel and policies, but they didn’t punish or prosecute people who committed crimes on behalf of the old regime. That said, I don’t see Obama as much like former dissident Vaclav Havel, the first post-Communist Czech President (other than that both men are intellectuals and smokers).

Getting back to King, only the most deluded Tea Partier could imagine that the Senate health insurance bill nationalizes our health care system. The Obama administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress have sold out to corporate interests in almost every major aspect of this bill (as well as on financial regulation, energy policy, you name it).  

King’s wrongheaded analogy got me wondering how the Czech health care system measures up against ours. Here’s a report on changes in Czech health care since the Velvet Revolution. The Czech Republic spends about half as much on health care as the U.S. as a percentage of the country’s annual gross domestic product. The U.S. has slightly longer life expectancy than the Czech Republic, but our infant mortality rate is more than double theirs.

Another featured speaker at yesterday’s Tea Party rally was Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. She recently encouraged non-payment of taxes as a response to the “illegitimate” health reform bill. Bachmann will headline an event for King next month in Sergeant Bluff (near Sioux City). The two have been collaborating on a “Declaration of Health Care Independence” since January. In October 2008, both King and Bachmann made Esquire’s list of the 10 worst members of Congress.

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