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Political Mercury

You cannot be serious, Congressman Wikipedia

10/23/2013

They are ever-present bit players on the modern political stage, ragamuffins with recorders at rallies and town halls.

Political trackers.

Republican and Democrats hire them to trail opposing candidates and sitting congressman in much the same way most of us play the lottery. You’ll probably toss the ticket (erase the digital tape). But every so often, Macaca moments emerge from the mouths of candidates who are dog tired or temporarily afflicted with a case of the Speaking For-Reals.

For just one week, it would be sporting if Congressman Steve King allowed his tracker to be replaced with a talk-backer. Perhaps an early 1980s John McEnroe. Whenever the tennis icon would get an awful call, he’d shout at the line judge, “You cannot be serious.” Incredulity has never had such a forceful voice.

So often, when we hear the outrageous pronouncements of our congressman, summoned from free-fire, no-fact reaches of Internet conspiracy, McEnroe’s signature expression springs to mind.

So it was as King, western Iowa’s most visible ambassador to the outside world, appeared on CNN the other morning, dismissing widely held concerns about a federal government default.

“I’m not worried about this thing they term ‘default,’ because we are going to service our debt, we are going to pay the interest first and we’ll roll the principal over,” King said in the interview.

The default, according to King, is a media concoction, a fantasy of the political left.

You can stick with Congressman Wikipedia on that one. Or scout out some reliable sources.

Fitch Ratings on that same day tagged the U.S. government with a “Rating Watch Negative” as the default loomed. Our AAA rating could be cut, the ratings professionals said.

Another ratings outfit, Standard and Poor’s, said the two-week partial government shutdown, as of last Wednesday, had cost the U.S. economy $24 billion.

Alabama Republican Congressman Spencer Bachus, the former chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said a “default would further weaken the dollar.”

King’s Republican colleague from Iowa, Congressman Tom Latham, supported the measure that passed the House Wednesday to reopen the government and remove the threat (for now) of default.

Latham said in a statement that he “could not support an irresponsible path that risks defaulting on the full faith and credit of the United States. And, I could not risk an irresponsible default that jeopardizes the retirement savings of hardworking Americans and globally undermines confidence in the U.S. dollar.”

King’s assessment is dangerously ignorant by Latham’s standards.

Increasingly, with King, we are getting a congressman on the outside of real power looking in. Why do you think he has so much time for TV?

But you like how he takes the fight to President Barack Obama, how he eschews political correctness. In the words of Sarah Palin, “How’s that working for ya?”

On pure strategy, the King camp is found desperately wanting. The shutdown gambit, as planned in the tea party tree house with Porky Cruz and Spanky Lee, was supposed to cripple Obamacare, wound the Democrats for the 2014 election cycle.

Instead, congressional Republicans settled on a deal that essentially takes Obamacare off the table as a political talking point. Moreover, the GOP, with foundering poll numbers, will spend the next three months in a weakened position at the worst possible time — as long-term budget talks unfold — discussions the Republicans have been avoiding for months until they emerged as something of a fig leaf.

It would be frightening to watch King’s bunch set up a Stratego board.

burns doug 12-10-25King is taking positions untethered from reality and then seeking to advance them through slap-happy politics.

It’s a losing combination for Iowa.

At some point, even his allies have to see this. CV

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

Jokers