Rep. Steve King of Iowa's new-found obsession of railing against the hordes of muscle-bound Mexicans he says are bringing drugs into the country has been strongly condemned. This has prompted King to just-as-strongly defend it. He can't help it. After all, he himself has been on the border and seen the sinewy scourge. His comments are merely "an objective analysis."
Or, anyway, that's what he told Laura Ingraham on her radio show this morning, as Think Progress reports. He was there to again defend comments he made to Newsmax over the weekend, in which he declared that for every immigrant supporter of the DREAM Act who was valedictorian, "there's another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert."
He has seen them.
"That description comes from many days down on the border, riding and sitting with the border patrol and without them at night, no night vision, watching the shadows come across the border, picking people up personally with my hands, unloading illegal drugs out of a vehicle with a false bottom under the truck,” he told Ingraham. “I mean this is a personal experience and I sit there at night and border patrol agents would come to me one at a time in their civil clothes and talk to me clandestinely…This description is the description from that kind of experience."
ThinkProgress has the full audio, in case you don't really believe he said it. King has indeed made several visits to the border, if his press releases offer an indication: in April 2006, February 2007, July 2009, and February 2011. That 2006 visit appears to be the one most likely to have resulted in his hands-on experience above, though his press release is quite a bit lighter on details. Does this constitute "many days down on the border"? You be the judge.
There are no mentions in his press releases of King having attended any college or high school graduations to hear the valedictorians, so it's still not clear how he developed that 100-to-1 ratio. Also, it is generally recommended that one not consider anecdotal evidence to be indicative of broader trends. As a wise man once said from the floor of the House of Representatives:
It's been a very rare thing over the 10-plus years I have been here to see anybody stand up and admit, 'I was was wrong. What you said changes my position. What I learned changes my position.' No, there are too many egos involved in this Congress for that to happen very often.
That statement was made yesterday, by one Steve King. Speaker John Boehner clearly wishes King would set ego aside and change his position — having King's inflammatory position in the news day after day after day isn't making Boehner's sales job on immigration reform any easier.
But Republican Iowans don't care. As the Des Moines Register reports, they don't care what Boehner thinks. And they don't care about King's comments, either.
“Even though the comments are racist inasmuch as he apparently assumes the vast majority of Hispanic immigrants are inherently criminal, voters here are used to these kinds of comments from King, and probably wouldn’t recoil unless he were to begin using racial epithets — which he has the sense not to,” said David Wiltse, an assistant professor of political scienceat Briar Cliff University in Sioux City.
That's the line King can't cross. He needs to make sure there's an insurmountable wall on that border.
Photo of Steve King visiting the border in 2011 via his Flickr page.