I was offline for a few days and returned to find that Representative Steve “10 Worst” King has been shooting off his mouth again. Historically, King’s offensive outbursts have enhanced his reputation with the country’s right wing, but this time even some conservatives are troubled by his comments. On Monday, King went on G. Gordon Liddy’s talk radio show to talk about Arizona’s new immigration law. Apparently that topic wasn’t controversial enough, because King said of President Barack Obama’s administration,
When you look at this administration, I’m offended by [U.S. Attorney General] Eric Holder and the President also, their posture. It looks like Eric Holder said that white people in America are cowards when it comes to race. And I don’t know what the basis of that is but I’m not a coward when it comes to that and I’m happy to talk about these things and I think we should. But the President has demonstrated that he has a default mechanism in him that breaks down the side of race – on the side that favors the black person.
The Media Matters Action Network’s Political Correction blog posted the audio clip here. Naturally, King misquoted Holder and distorted the meaning of his words. Over at The Atlantic blog, Ta-Nehisi Coates discusses the long American history of claiming your political opponent is “favoring black people.”
We Iowans are used to King embarrassing us from time to time, but some out-of-staters were apparently shocked this week. Republican candidate Cory Gardner, who is challenging a Democratic incumbent in Colorado’s conservative-leaning fourth district, quickly canceled a fundraiser King was planning to headline this weekend (more on that here). Meanwhile, the Northern Colorado Tea Party axed King’s scheduled appearance at its June 19 event, saying, “we do not feel his remarks align with the mission and vision of the Northern Colorado Tea Party, which focuses on promoting fiscal responsibility, limited government, and free enterprise according to Constitutional principles. The race debate does not have a place in the Tea Party movement or in politics today.” Gardner will be at the Tea Party event and presumably wanted to avoid being on stage with King.
King told an Iowa political admirer on Monday, “The fact that liberals have risen to attack me and call me names without rebutting my assertions concedes my point […] When they start calling you names you know they’ve lost the argument.”
No, Congressman, when even your supposed political allies can’t get far enough away from you, it proves you have lost the argument. How often do candidates cancel opportunities to raise money for a campaign?
In case you were wondering what King had planned to say about the Arizona law on Gordon Liddy’s talk show, I infer it’s something like what he said on the floor of the U.S. House Monday evening:
KING: Some claim that the Arizona law will bring about racial discrimination profiling. First let me say, Mr. Speaker, that profiling has always been an important component of legitimate law enforcement. If you can’t profile someone, you can’t use those common sense indicators that are before your very eyes. Now, I think it’s wrong to use racial profiling for the reasons of discriminating against people, but it’s not wrong to use race or other indicators for the sake of identifying that are violating the law. […]
It’s just a common sense thing. Law enforcement needs to use common sense indicators. Those common sense indicators are all kinds of things, from what kind of clothes people wear – my suit in my case – what kind of shoes people wear, what kind of accident [sic] they have, um, the, the type of grooming they might have, there’re, there’re all kinds of indicators there and sometimes it’s just a sixth sense and they can’t put their finger on it. But these law enforcement officers, if they were going to be discriminating against people on the sole basis of race, singling people out, that’d be going on already.
Something tells me King wouldn’t be so comfortable with racial profiling if law enforcement singled out people who look like him. But empathy has never been his strong suit. We’re talking about a guy who thinks deporting undocumented immigrants to an area devastated by an earthquake might be a good way to send extra relief workers.
Matt Campbell is the Democratic nominee in Iowa’s fifth district; go here to get involved in supporting his campaign. Rob Hubler, King’s opponent in 2008, spoke with the Sioux City Journal’s Bret Hayworth last week about the challenges of campaigning in this huge district, which covers 32 Iowa counties. He noted that it’s particularly hard for a candidate to get a message out with so many media markets covering portions of the district.
UPDATE: The Political Correction blog followed up on this story today.
Also, King told Radio Iowa that he stands by his remarks. Campbell commented on the controversy too: “I think they’re reflective of a pattern of Mr. King saying polarizing things. I think collectively they preclude meaningful work on issues important to the development of western Iowa because of statements such as this.” Hard to argue with that one.
SECOND UPDATE: Representative Bruce Braley, a Democrat, said King’s comments about Obama favoring black people “were deplorable and an embarrassment to the state of Iowa.”
Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn and third district Congressional candidate Brad Zaun declined to comment, and Zaun said repeatedly that he didn’t know exactly what King had said.