Those of us from Iowa used to lament that our Republican senator, Charles Grassley, had become the face of opposition to health care reform. Why did the most recognizable Iowan in national politics have to be a wizened elf who accused every bill of providing free abortions to immigrants and kept assuring us that the Death Panels were in there somewhere? I, for one, wished that someone else—anyone else—could serve as Iowa’s delegate to the national imagination. That, boys and girls, is why you must never wish. Representative Steve King (R–IA) has fulfilled our longings in the most ironically disappointing way possible. Sure, Chuck Grassley is an asshole, a stubborn hick whose Twitter feed read “Barb made oatmeal,” on the day his committee abandoned the attempt to reach bipartisan consensus on health care reform. But yesterday Steve King called for the overthrow of the United States government. Apparently Congressman King has forgotten where he works, along with a bunch of other important information that might otherwise have allowed him to make a useful contribution to the operation of America. In speaking to the Huffington Post, he called for a peaceful takeover of Congress similar to Prague’s Velvet Revolution, and likened the state of our country to that of Czechoslovakia under Soviet communism. “It is very, very close,” he said. “It is the nationalization of our liberty and the federal government taking our liberty over.” Which raises a lot questions, not the least of which is whether Representative King knows what that word means.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it: American politics have come to a bitter pass, and what one voter holds dear is likely to enrage another. In these fractious times, Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) is doing what he can to bring the country together by standing up for what people still agree on. Last month, he celebrated Flag Day by proposing a constitutional amendment to ban the desecration of Old Glory. That probably cost him some votes in Tehran, but it seemed like a safe move otherwise. He followed it up with an editorial in the Missoulian and other Lee papers last week, in which he spoke out against methamphetamine. Beginning by noting that 95% of participants in his recent telephone town hall agree meth is a problem, he argues for 500 words that meth is, indeed, a problem. He concludes by saying that now is the time to raise awareness.
I suppose that last 5% of awareness is always the hardest. Still, one cannot help but think of other issues Sen. Daines might address, including the massive, secret, and extremely controversial health care bill his caucus is currently trying to ram through the senate. That bill might be why Daines keeps holding telephone town halls instead of regular ones. He hasn’t been back to Montana in a minute, and he lobbied to cancel the August recess. With all the flags-are-good and drugs-are-bad rhetoric coming out of his office right now, he’s starting to look like he might be trying to duck the issue. You can read all about it in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent. We’ll probably be talking about Daines more in the near future, since he introduced that single-payer amendment he doesn’t actually support. Start working on your goblin jokes, and we’ll meet back here tomorrow for Friday links.
Boarding school graduate Tucker Carlson, whose first job out of college was an editorial position at Policy Review, knows something about the relationship between demographics and destiny. His father was George H.W. Bush’s ambassador to the Seychelles and ran the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, as well as Voice of America. His stepmother is the heir to the Swanson frozen food fortune. From these beginnings, Tucker somehow found his way into broadcasting and conservative politics. Yesterday he interviewed Rep. Steve King (R-IA) in this capacity, discussing the congressman’s controversial tweet from this weekend. And he held King’s feet to the fire in his signature, hard-nosed style. Quote:
Everything you said is, I think defensible, and probably right. The problem with the [other peoples’ babies] tweet was it suggested a racial component of American identity.
Yeah, that was the problem, wasn’t it? Fortunately, the two men talked it over, and they agreed there was nothing racist about King’s tweet. Video after the jump.
For the last year or so, Representative Steve King of Iowa has flirted with white nationalism. It’s the kind of flirting where you drink four cocktails and just start talking, although King was presumably sober in October when he tweeted that “cultural suicide by demographic transformation must end.” That was ominous. “Cultural suicide” and “demographic transformation” are vague terms, but the accompanying photo with European ethno-nationalists Frauke Petry and Geert Wilders offered a hint of what he meant. This weekend, the congressman praised Wilders again and got a little more explicit:
To paraphrase an old joke: What do you mean “we,” white man? The tweet raises some obvious questions. Who are we, again? And which babies aren’t ours? While we’re at it, we should probably figure out what the congressman means by “restore civilization,” considering that he is tweeting this message using a cell phone that distributes his words via a worldwide communication network to people who can read. Mad Max it ain’t. The questions about what King means by “we” and “our civilization” and “somebody else” lie at the heart of this tweet and, increasingly, his whole perspective.
President Trump took to Twitter this morning to condemn the leaks that have embarrassed his administration for the last month. After The New York Times reported that his campaign aides had repeated contact with Russian intelligence agents last year, citing “four current and former American officials,” the president tweeted that “The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by ‘intelligence’ like candy. Very un-American!” Compare this to the less real scandal of accepting the help of a hostile foreign power to become president, which is only mildly un-American. But Trump raises a valid question. When is it a betrayal of the United States to leak classified information to the public, either directly or indirectly through the press, and when is it a service?