Political Mercury

By Douglas Burns


We should evaluate King as our employee

In evaluating employees, one of the more important measures is time management.
And it is in this way that we should judge Iowa Congressman Steve King’s cheap charge last week that President Obama has a “default mechanism” that favors “the black person.”
King offered no evidence of this suggestion of presidential racism other than Obama’s ill-considered entry into what’s now a year-old dispute between a Harvard professor and a white cop in Cambridge, Mass., that led to a brief national discussion about law enforcement and race — and that laughable White House “Beer Summit.”
Indeed, Obama has come under criticism from African-American leaders for not having a “black” agenda, for being a product of elite Ivy schools. He’s more Wall Street than street, say some of his critics.

King, who gets testy when others challenge his motivations on racial matters, had no problems doing just that with Obama on the talk show of Watergate alum G. Gordon Liddy. Our congressman also spent the last week doing a number of other interviews in which he defended, amplified and elaborated on the statements.
King once made a great point in challenging some of my work. We can’t divine what is in the hearts of others on race, went King’s line of reasoning. King asked me to respect that in evaluating his remarks with race, but he fails to apply the same standard to himself in commenting on the commander in chief.
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 every time they see the Kiron Republican’s lips jiggle.

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.

Some questions we should ask ourselves:
Many of us in western Iowa go days or weeks without even seeing an African American in person. Are we suffering any grievances at the hands of the “black person?” Is that on your mind today? You actually worried about the black man getting over on you? Come on.

More importantly, 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.

This is the case King’s opponent in the fall, Manning native Matt Campbell, is making.

“When you look at the history of Mr. King’s statements, it reflects a pattern,” said Campbell, the Democrat who won this month’s party primary here in western Iowa. “Instead of focusing on moving America forward, King is busy making polarizing statements.”

On a conference call with reporters, U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, went even further. Harkin said King is using his position — and the trust we give him — to audition for another job.

“You know what I read in all this? It just appears to me that Rep. King is tired of being a congressman and really what he wants to do is join Glenn Beck on the radio circuit,” Harkin said in response to a question from Cityview. “It seems to me that’s really what he’d like to do. That’s sort of his genre. That’s sort of what he gets his kicks out of. Now maybe that’s what he ought to do is join Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and that crowd.” CV


Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa newspaperman who writes for The Carroll Daily Times Herald and offers columns for Cityview.

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