Just a few short years ago, Steve King (R-Iowa) was persona non-grata in his own party after the tea party Republican accused DREAMers of being drug mules with “calves the size of cantaloupes” due to all of that pot smuggling he imagines immigrants do. It was so bad that Speaker John Boehner called him an “a$$hole.”
Well, he’s back and he’s taking names. Republican names.
In an interview with MSNBC, King gloated over his success in winning control of the party’s immigration policy and noted that he keeps a list of those Republicans who criticized him:
Since then, King has decisively seized control of the House GOP’s immigration agenda. He forced through an amendment in 2013 to block DACA, which grants temporary deportation relief to DREAMers. He also personally crafted a border security bill with Boehner’s approval last summer that again targeted the program, and whipped conservatives behind a Homeland Security bill this month that would expose virtually all undocumented immigrants to blanket deportation. Boehner backed away from immigration reform entirely last June even though a comprehensive bill had passed the Senate in 2013 with bipartisan support. And, despite some happy talk from GOP leaders, the prospects for legislation look bleak this year.
King is not above gloating. His staff kept a running list of some 12-16 prominent Republicans who’ve leveled personal criticisms against him. The congressman said he went over it himself the other day, just for old time’s sake.
“Their agenda has been marginalized,” a smiling King told msnbc. “Mine’s been strengthened.”
So for those Republicans who feel like somebody’s watching them, chances are good it’s Steve King. Maybe he’s keeping track of the calf muscle size of his party members, lest he suspect any of them who actually want to address our immigration problems of being drug mules.
Now King is running the House Republican immigration agenda, and that should explain a lot. MSNBC noted the horror of the GOP, “Meanwhile, immigration reform advocates spent much of the last two years trying to make King politically radioactive only to watch in horror as the party has moved closer and closer to his hardline position.”
But the hubris is far from over. Instead of having learned a lesson as he destroys his party with Latino voters, King is upping the ante. He’ll take the White House hopefuls down, too, thanks so much.
As certain Republican 2016 hopefuls mull over skipping Iowa caucuses in order to avoid being “bullied” by King, he pushed back reminding them they need him:
“I would say to Jeb Bush that, since Ronald Reagan, no one has ascended to the presidency as a Republican without first winning the Ames straw poll and the Iowa caucus,” he said, referring to Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush and brother, George W. Bush. “If you can’t sell your positions in Iowa, what’s the argument as to where you can?”
Horror and hubris. Sounds about right for the modern day Republican Party. This is the party that is also currently trying to explain that they are not pro-rape. Okay?
King may have let his last name go to his head, but it’s the Republican Party that can’t control its extremists and instead has been letting them wag the dog for far too long.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.