What hurts is when meaningful bipartisan legislation is trying to make its way through Congress and one of those politicians isn’t careful where he or she steps.
Take the case of Steve King, a Republican representative from Iowa.
President Obama has made immigration reform a staple of his second term; as such, the so-called Gang of Eight, a bipartisan group of senators, have been tasked with writing legislation that Capitol Hill will pass. The minefield exists in the U.S. House, where King and some of his fellow Republicans are a wall of resistance against most forms of immigration reform.
In an interview last week with Newsmax, King claimed that undocumented high school graduates are “hauling … marijuana across the desert.” The Washington Post, which has written about King’s comments, used this headline on its story Thursday: “Republicans’ Steve King problem.”
Problem is the appropriate word. As the Post explained, the GOP understands America’s changing demographics is forcing the party to reach out to Hispanic voters in future elections. That has to start now. A large segment of Republican voters are not fans of immigration reform measures that would include amnesty-style provisions. And King’s demonizing comments only make the Republican Party’s job of balancing these competing interests that much more difficult.
House Speaker John Boehner, of Ohio,said King’s comments were “wrong,” “hateful” and “ignorant,” which they were. Virginia Republican Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, called them “inexcusable.” Later, Boehner told The Post, “What (King) said does not reflect the values of the American people or the Republican Party.”
The Republicans’ King Problem has Boehner and Cantor in a mild, though unmistakable, case of damage control. Boehner is right to distance the GOP from such garbage. The lesson is obvious: Republicans have to stop insulting a whole race of people they’re trying to court. If not, this won’t end well.