Steve King was stripped of his committee assignments by fellow Republicans for questioning what was wrong with white supremacy in the U.S., and House Democrats took steps to admonish him.
House Republican leaders made the decision Monday night. He had previously sat on the Judiciary panel and Agriculture Committee, an important position for an Iowan.Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) said Monday that Mr. King’s language has no place in the Republican Party and the decision by GOP leaders was unanimous.
Mr. King said his words were taken out of context in a newspaper interview, and argued that he was defending western civilization and not white supremacy or nationalism.
“Leader McCarthy’s decision to remove me from committees is a political decision that ignores the truth,” Mr. King said in a statement.
In an article published last week, the New York Times reported Mr. King said in an interview that he supports legal immigrants who fully assimilate to “ ‘the culture of America’ based on values brought to the United States by whites from Europe.”
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization—how did that language become offensive?” Mr. King said in the newspaper interview. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
Two resolutions introduced separately by Democratic Reps. Bobby Rush of Illinois and Tim Ryan of Ohio would censure the lawmaker for the comments he made in the recent interview questioning why “white supremacist” and “white nationalist” are considered offensive. Mr. Rush’s resolution would censure Mr. King for previous comments as well.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Democratic leadership decided Monday night to move forward with a resolution by Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D., S.C.) that would formally disapprove of Mr. King’s comments, but at a lower level than censure. The vote is likely Tuesday, a Democratic leadership aide said.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday left open the possibility of House action to punish Rep. Steve King over his history of inflammatory remarks as the Iowa Republican’s recent defense of white nationalism created a firestorm.
King, who won a ninth term in Congress in November, lamented in an interview with the New York Times that the term had become a pejorative one.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King said in the interview, which was published Thursday.
King later issued a statement and addressed the issue in a speech on the House floor Friday in which he sought to walk back his remarks. He said he rejects “those labels and the evil ideology that they define” and proclaimed himself “simply a Nationalist.”
A number of Democrats are calling on House leaders to consider a resolution to censure King, a vote that would put Republicans on record.
.. King’s interview prompted a rebuke from Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the No. 3 Republican in the House, who said in a tweet Thursday morning, “These comments are abhorrent and racist and should have no place in our national discourse.”
She was soon followed by House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who told reporters in a pen-and-pad that it was “offensive to try to legitimize those terms.” But Scalise also praised King’s later statement.
“I think it was important that he rejected that kind of evil, because that’s what it is. It’s evil ideology,” Scalise said.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also issued a statement Thursday evening in which he sharply criticized King’s comments to the Times.
“Everything about white supremacy and white nationalism goes against who we are as a nation,” McCarthy said. “Steve’s language is reckless, wrong, and has no place in our society. The Declaration of Independence states that ‘all men are created equal.’ That is a fact. It is self-evident.”
Both McCarthy and Scalise were silent in October when asked for comment on incendiary remarks King had made then. At the time, Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), then the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, was the only member of House GOP leadership to rebuke King. (Cheney had not yet been elected to her position as conference chair.)
Democrats didn’t lose for lack of political talent, campaign financing and organization or enthusiasm among their base. They lost because of their brand.
.. Democrats may think the brand is all about diversity, inclusion and fairness. But for millions of Americans, the brand is also about contempt — intellectual contempt of the kind Nimzowitsch exuded for his opponent
.. Contemporary liberalism now expresses itself chiefly in the language of self-affirmation and moral censure: of being the party of the higher-minded; of affixing the suffix “phobe” to millions of people who don’t appreciate being described as bigots.
.. It’s why a political strategy by Democrats that seeks to turn every local race into a referendum on Trump is likely to fail.
.. One temptation Democrats would be smart to avoid is to see Ossoff’s loss as evidence that the party needs to move further left, on the theory that not enough of the base showed up to vote.
.. And nominating more progressive candidates isn’t likely to solve the contempt problem, at least with voters not yet in sync with progressive orthodoxies on coal, guns or gender-neutral bathrooms.
.. Speaking of the 42nd president, many are the charges that can be laid at his feet, but contempt for half of all Americans was never one of them.