Don't hold your breath waiting for Steve King to debate

Democratic Congressional candidate Matt Campbell has challenged incumbent Steve King to a series of three debates this year. Campbell’s press release notes that King “has never formally debated an opponent” since his first election to Congress in 2002.

Don’t expect this year to become the exception that proves the rule. King ignored Campbell’s request that he apologize for making racially polarizing remarks about President Barack Obama, and he’s probably going to ignore Campbell’s request for debates on the issues.

Why would King agree to take questions from a panel of journalists while Campbell points out how little the incumbent has accomplished for his fifth district constituents? The status quo is very comfortable for King. Conservative interest groups pay to fly him all over the country. He gets one softball question after another from right-wing talk radio hosts. Even when sensible Republicans are embarrassed by his presence, he can find a receptive audience for his wrong-headed comments.

Douglas Burns put it well at the Carroll Daily Times Herald:

In evaluating employees one of the more important measures is time management. […]

We can debate whether King is accurate with his portrayal of Obama as a closet black militant. But, really, is this the sort of business we want Mr. King, our $174,000-a-year employee, doing for us on the job?

The time King spends on this matter is time he’s not devoting to the great sweep of land that is the 5th Congressional District. A self-described insomniac, King can claim that he has time to be a right-wing talk-show darling and a reliable piñata for MSNBC’s liberal commentators whose eyes light up like kids seeing candies and other sweets every time they see the Kiron Republican’s lips jiggle into their default position of flapping about.

But at the end of the day, there’s no getting away from the fact that it takes time and energy and political capital to play the role of Congressman Steve King as he’s written the part. […]

More important, when King is chasing the lights, cameras and action of the spit-scream arena of modern political talk entertainment shows what is he neglecting in Cherokee or Carroll or Creston or Council Bluffs? What agricultural or economic-development issue is getting less attention than it would otherwise have?

The most important choice we make in life is how to use our time. It is a limited commodity. King is on our clock and he’s spending our time in ways that have little to do with real life in western Iowa.

I would bank on Campbell’s handshake with King at the Storm Lake 4th of July parade being the only meeting between the two candidates this year.

In related Steve King news, this week he claimed the closure of a voter intimidation case in Philadelphia proved he was right to claim the Obama administration has a “default mechanism” favoring racial minorities. For context about the New Black Panther Case dropped by Obama’s Justice Department, read this piece by Zachary Roth at TPMMuckraker. Conservatives like King are making “whistle-blower” Christian Adams out to be a hero, but Josh Marshall reminds us how this guy got his DOJ job in the first place:

Adams was one of the attorneys US Attorney firing scandal luminary Bradley Schlozman hired when he was purging the Civil Rights Division of female, minority and non-right wing attorneys and replacing them with “good Americans.”

Basically, Adams was one of the guys who got in during the bad old days when the crooks and bamboozlers then running the DOJ were purging career attorneys and replacing them with right-wing activists like Schlozman himself. And remember, Schlozman’s role at the Bush DOJ was getting US Attorneys to bring bogus ‘vote fraud’ cases to further the effort to suppress minority and low-income voter turnout.

Let’s see, what else was one of the 10 worst members of Congress wrong about lately? Oh yes, King agreed with a right-wing talk show caller who claimed Obama’s not helping Louisiana cope with the BP oil spill because that state’s governor is a Republican. In the process he falsely accused the president of failing to waive the Jones Act. Pat Garofalo explains here why the right-wing Jones Act talking points are false.

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