Leading observers are pointing out that the growing Republican denunciation of Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is both overdue and hypocritical. As the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent puts it:
…Republicans are all in with Trump’s government shutdown. And that shutdown is a last-ditch stand to realize the crowning symbol of the policy agenda of Steve King.
Below are excerpts and links to several key voices hammering home some of the same themes:
Greg Sargent of the Washington Post in a piece titled Steve King and Donald Trump agree. Only one is getting punished by the GOP:
Republicans are moving to strip Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) of his committee roles, to punish him for suggesting that white nationalism and white supremacy have come in for undue condemnation. That’s a genuinely good development, as far as it goes.
But let’s not forget that Republicans are also digging in behind a government shutdown engineered by President Trump that is designed to force the enactment of key elements of King’s policy agenda, which in many respects is a real-world blueprint of that same white nationalism.
…Does Trump actually believe the wall would an effective public-safety device? Maybe, but he also obviously views it as an important symbol to his supporters. A symbol of what, exactly? The answer is obvious: It’s a symbol of resistance to the country’s ethnic and demographic transformation. A symbol of resistance to the “Great Replacement.”
I doubt many congressional Republicans are white nationalists. Before Trump, many opposed legalizing the undocumented and some wanted to cut legal immigration, but the party was genuinely split on the issue. Since then, Republicans have moved into Trump’s camp, accommodating him the way center-right parties in Europe have made peace with rising right-wing populism’s anti-immigrant sentiment.
Now Republicans are all in with Trump’s government shutdown. And that shutdown is a last-ditch stand to realize the crowning symbol of the policy agenda of Steve King.
Former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson in a Washington Post column titled Republicans need to condemn Trump’s brazen bigotry:
If racism is the problem, then President Trump is a worse offender. And the GOP’s relative silence on Trump is a sign of hypocrisy and weakness … By any standard, Trump says things that are reckless, wrong, abhorrent, offensive and racist. Until Republicans can state this reality with the same clarity and intensity that they now criticize King, they will be cowards in a time crying for bravery.
Frank Bruni of the New York Times in a column titled Republicans, Racism, and Steve King:
…they’re taking on King instead of taking on Trump. It’s safer. That’s what this is really about: the sacrifice of one wretched bigot to atone for the indulgence of another; an opportunity for moral preening after so much moral surrender. This has less to do with courage than with convenience. Be glad for King’s exile. But don’t be impressed by the Republicans who are ordering it.
The Washington Post published an editorial today titled Republicans finally noticed Steve King’s bigotry. What about Trump’s?
Republican leaders in Congress are shocked, shocked that their fellow GOP colleague Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), whose racist remarks have been his political signature for more than a decade, turns out to be . . . a racist. “We don’t take this lightly,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who has been taking it so lightly for so many years that he hadn’t bothered to notice Mr. King’s toxic utterings until now.
What a difference an electoral drubbing makes. Having lost 40 House seats in the November midterms, the GOP’s congressional capos, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), seem to be calculating that it may diminish the party’s brand for elected Republicans to demonize, mock, disparage and demean minorities.
With one exception, of course: President Trump.
America’s Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry in a piece posted yesterday titled This Shutdown is Not About National Security. It’s Not About Immigration Policy. It’s About Racism:
After years of racist comments and policy proposals from the Iowa bomb thrower, Republicans have decided to make King a sacrificial lamb. They seem determined to tell all those suburban voters they lost in 2018, “look at us, we are against racism, come back.” Meanwhile, just about all Republicans in Congress enable and coddle the wall-obsessed President, the man who has employed virulent racism and xenophobia to get elected in 2016, to mobilize Republican voters in 2018, and to appease the right-wing talkers that has now led us into the longest shutdown in American history.
The real reckoning with racism in the GOP may start with Steve King but must move quickly to Donald Trump. A good place to start would be to stand up to the President, reopen the government and engage in good faith debates about national security and immigration policy. That this prospect seems so distant and unimaginable tells us all we need to know about the cancer of racism that is rotting the Republican party from the inside out.