Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Mitt Romney Endorses … a Far Right Extremist

Guilt by association is a dangerous game. And usually unfair. A politician shouldn’t necessarily be held to account for things that a supporter says, though it often depends on how close to the politician that someone is and just how offensive the statement may have been. Thus, I think that it’s probably unfair to hold President Obama or Mitt Romney accountable for the statements of other random Democrats or Republicans, respectively. On the other hand, when a candidate actively courts the support of a particular person or when the comments are just so far over-the-top, then the politician does have some degree of obligation to respond in some way. Thus, Sen. John McCain was correct to reject the endorsement of Pastor John Hagee. And Gov. Romney should probably have done the same following some of the more obnoxious statements of Donald Trump and Ted Nugent.

And yet it’s a different story entirely when a politician chooses to associate with or endorse someone. In that case, the politician, by giving that endorsement, especially to someone “down ticket”, essentially “owns” the views expressed by the person so endorsed. After all, the politician didn’t have to endorse the person; rather the politician, in giving the endorsement, expressed a choice and belief in that other person’s candidacy and views. That’s what an endorsement means.

Which brings me to Mitt Romney and Iowa Rep. Steve King.

I know that Rep. King may not be a household name, at least not to those who don’t follow politics as obsessively as I do. But for those who have been paying careful attention, King is someone who has likely appeared on their radar more than once. And at a campaign rally in Iowa last month, Mitt Romney endorsed Steve King. Romney told Iowa voters that they needed to reelect King and said that he wanted King to be his “partner” in Washington.

So what’s wrong with that? Well let’s look at a list of Steve King’s greatest hits, shall we? (Thanks to Think Progress for compiling some of the following items.)

  • King expressed support for Missouri Republican Rep. Todd Akin after his now infamous comments about women not getting pregnant from “legitimate rape”. King is also a co-sponsor of a bill that would ban the use of Federal funds for abortions for rapes that weren’t “forcible” (e.g., statutory rape) and when asked about young victims of incestuous rape King responded that he wasn’t aware in a “personal way” with those sorts of victims.
  • King also believes that US law currently permits a sexual predator who impregnates a young girl (wait, I though he wasn’t aware of such situations a “personal way”) to pick her up at the playground, drive her across state lines, force her to have an abortion, and then drop her off back at the swingset. Seriously. His words.
  • King believes that the Supreme Court’s decision in Griswold v. Connecticut was wrong. That decision, you may recall, recognized a fundamental right to privacy and concluded that a state could not ban contraception.
  • King’s belief about Griswold v. Connecticut isn’t surprising given his general views of contraception: “Preventing babies from being born is not medicine. That’s not— that’s not constructive to our culture and our civilization. If we let our birth rate get down below replacement rate we’re a dying civilization.”
  • King has compared immigrants to dogs and suggested that we choose which immigrants to allow to enter the US in the same way that he chooses a good bird dog.
  • King also advocated for certain types of profiling to catch immigrants and noted that you can tell illegal immigrants on the basis of their shoes and your “sixth sense”.
  • King suggested that we build an electrified fence along the Mexican border (he even showed Congress a model he’d built) and compared that proposed fence to the way farmers handle livestock.
  • Immigrants who want to be part of American society, King suggests “love taxes” and thus aren’t (or won’t be) “real Americans”.
  • King also claims that undocumented immigrants are responsible for approximately one-quarter of the murders committed in the US each year. His claim is baseless (and easily refuted with arithmetic).
  • King was very active in Iowa politics, even spending $80,000 for advertising, to defeat the Iowa Supreme Court judges who had ruled that Iowa’s ban on gay marriage was discriminatory.
  • King … and I’m not making this up … voted against a federal ban on interstate dog fighting and against a ban on bringing children to dog fights. King compared dog fighting to consensual martial sports like boxing. Given Romney’s own issues with dog cruelty, this seems to be either an odd place for an endorsement … or a theme.
  • King thinks that it is unconstitutional for states to ban foie gras. Of course, I suspect that he has no trouble with states banning marijuana or the patchwork of laws regarding alcohol.
  • When, in 2010, a man flew his small plane into a federal office building in Texas, apparently to protest the IRS, King told an interviewer that he understood the man’s frustrations and seemed to sympathize with the domestic terrorist because the IRS is, you know, evil or something.
  • After the passage of the Affordable Care Act, King spoke to a group of Tea Party activists and seemed to suggest that secession might be a necessary response to the new law: “If I could start a country with a bunch of people, they’d be the folks who were standing with us the last few days. Let’s hope we don’t have to do that! Let’s beat that other side to a pulp! Let’s take them out. Let’s chase them down. There’s going to be a reckoning!” (Emphasis added.) Hmm. I wonder if the folks he wants to beat to a pulp would include Mitt Romney, the architect of Obamacare’s core framework?
  • King refused to vote for a House resolution honoring Ramadan (though he did offer a similar bill to honor Christmas).
  • And though this should not come as any great surprise, King is a birther: “It would have been awfully hard to fraudulently file the birth notice of Barack Obama being born in Hawaii and get that into our public libraries and that microfiche they keep of all the newspapers published. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some other explanations on how they might’ve announced that by telegram from Kenya. The list goes on. But drilling into that now, even if we could get a definitive answer and even if it turned out that Barack Obama was conclusively not born in America, I don’t think we could get that case sold between now and November.” (Emphasis added.)
  • Finally, King thinks that Sen. Joe McCarthy — you know, the guy after whom “McCarthyism” is named — is a “great American hero”.

Need I say more?

And this is the guy that Mitt Romney endorsed, told Iowa voters to vote for, and wants for a partner in Washington.

Sorry, Mitt. We don’t need people like Steve King in Congress (or in any other position with responsibility) and you’re decision to endorse King is just further evidence of why you need to be at home in one of your houses in January watching President Obama be inaugurated again.

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