A growing number of Iowans are coming to believe — and certainly not without reason — that if U.S. Rep. Steve King’s lips are moving, what follows is likely to be absurd and/or offensive.
In our opinion that was the case … again … last week as King spoke to a town hall meeting in Charter Oak.
With communities on both sides of the Missouri River fighting widespread flooding that has already been termed more destructive than the massive flooding of 2011, King opted to use references to 2005”s Hurricane Katrina to tout the resilience of Iowans — people who “take care of each other.”
While Iowans should clearly take pride in the fact that King mentioned an attribute that residents of any state should be proud of, he was quick to take his comments in an offensive direction.
King noted that he visited New Orleans several times after the deadly 2005 storm, termed the costliest hurricane in U.S. History by the National Hurricane Center. Rather than speaking of what he observed personally, he shifted gears to refer to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“Here’s what FEMA tells me: We go to a place like New Orleans and everybody’s looking around saying, ‘Who’s gonna help me, who’s gonna help me?’” The Associated Press reported. “When FEMA responds to problems in Iowa, they’re just always gratified when they come and see how Iowans take care of each other.”
While the devastation of this spring’s flooding cannot be denied, King’s comparison of current conditions in Iowa to that of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 is one of apples and oranges.
Hurricane Katrina crossed the tip of Florida and then swept into the Gulf of Mexico and over Louisiana and Mississippi, causing more than 1,800 deaths and an estimated $108 billion in damage. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who asked President Donald Trump for a federal disaster declaration for 57 Iowa counties impacted by flooding, cited an estimated $1.6 billion in damage and no deaths.
House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, who was born in New Orleans and whose district includes part of the city, responded to King in a statement saying, “His comments about Katrina victims are absurd and offensive, and are a complete contradiction to the strength and resilience the people of New Orleans demonstrated to the entire nation in the wake of the total devastation they experienced.”
One wonders how long northwest Iowans, whose interests King claims to represent, will continue to send him back to Washington where, stripped of all his committee assignments, he’s become one of the least effective members of Congress.
In January, Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-highest Republican in the House, suggested he find another line of work. Doing so would be beneficial to Iowa.