Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa speaks during the Freedom Summit, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
It’s election season (isn’t it always, these days?) and as a result there is no shortage of “insert foot into mouth” moments from the political class.
Joe Biden immediately comes to mind, with his cringe-tastic slip ups over the last few weeks. First he encouraged a crowd of supporters to choose “truth over facts” and then he told a different crowd of supporters that poor kids were just as smart as “wealthy White kids”.
Not content to let Biden corner the market on cringe, Rep. Steve King opened his mouth wide enough on Wednesday to get an entire foot in there, maybe even all the way up to the ankle.
King was making an argument…an “argument”…against abortion when his brain suddenly short-circuited and his mouth began vomiting forth a bizarre word salad.
If you can sift past the extremely uncomfortable and ridiculous, what King is getting at isn’t that shocking. It is a common argument among pro-lifers that rape is not a viable reason to end a child’s life. The idea is that it doesn’t relieve the pain but compounds the impact of the assault. Now two lives have been shredded due to one horrific act. King was parroting the mechanics of that argument, but as you can see he did no one – least of all himself – any favors.
The problem isn’t really that King is a misogynist (although he might be, I don’t know) or monster (although he might be, I don’t know). The problem is that King doesn’t believe what he’s saying. At least, in my opinion.
A lot of politicians speak out of both sides of their mouths on abortion. If you’ve spent any decent amount of time in Capitol Hill culture you’ll know abortion is quite prevalent in a business where powerful men work with eager, impressionable young women every day. I’m not making any accusations against King, I’m just saying that a reason people are always complaining about how certain politicians characterize and defend abortion is because many of them are just reading a script they don’t really believe – or at least don’t truly understand. There is no “heart” behind the heartfelt defense of life.
It is hard to articulate an argument you don’t really believe or understand. We forgive so much from politicians, saying they just “misspoke” or were tired but sometimes their talking points don’t make sense to us because they don’t make sense to them. It isn’t something they’ve put that much thought into. It just reaches a certain audience.
That’s why Joe Biden sounds insane when talking about “poor kids” versus “wealthy, White kids”. He isn’t really making an argument he’s put a lot of thought into. He is from a completely different era, a time where his groping and creepy affection towards women was considered normal…even flattering. He doesn’t speak “woke”. He is Rumpelstiltskin – awoken from a decade long slumber to discover that his brand of politicking did not survive the “sure cover” of serving the nation’s first Black president.
So Biden has no choice but to mimic the sounds, to utter the arguments phonetically. They sound stilted and garbled because he really doesn’t understand what he’s saying. The translation is fuzzy.
King is the same way. He can’t properly articulate the point that children conceived in rape are every bit as valuable and necessary to our society as any other child because it isn’t really something he thinks about. But he knows his base. So like Biden, King phonetically stumbles through the script and we hang our heads and shake them with embarrassment.
It is too bad the point is lost in King’s fuzzy translation. The logic was there, but the heart was missing.