At first look you wouldn’t think Rep. Steve King of Iowa, the GOP’s recidivist racist, and Rep. Ilhan Omar, the Democrats’ outspoken anti-Semite, would have much in common.
But they do. And it is something they share with Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Saddam Hussein, Saudi Prince Muhammad Bin Salman and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.
All are victims of self-inflicted wounds.
Omar may try to blame the Jews, King the blacks, Nixon the liberals, Clinton the vast right wing conspiracy and Trump everyone but himself, but the truth is all they need to see the culprit responsible for the greatest damage inflicted on them is to look in a mirror.
Omar is the latest. Barely a month in office, she has been soundly condemned by her party’s leaders for repeated anti-Semitic slurs.
A Somali native, she is one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. The other is Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, who is Palestinian-American.
Both have been harshly critical of Israel. They’re having trouble finding the difference between prejudice and policy.
It took King 16 years to get there. And it was only after repeated incidents, culminating in a New York Times interview in January the GOP leadership decided to act before the new Democratic majority might take harsher action.
The Republican caucus stripped King of his committee assignments. That’s the same that was done for two other Republicans, Rep. Duncan Hunter of California and Rep. Chris Collins of New York. The pair, coincidentally the first two members of Congress to endorse Donald Trump for president, are under federal criminal indictment.
If convicted they will have to resign their seats. Meanwhile King can run for reelection and hope enough constituents either share or don’t care about his bigotry.
The full House, with its Democratic majority, was very tough on King. It passed, 424-1, a generic resolution denouncing white supremacist and white nationalist movements that was so benign that not only didn’t it mention King by name but the congressman himself voted for it.
Neither King nor Omar is a first-time offender. Their reputations have been damaged by self-inflicted wounds. They’ve apologized. Colleagues said their actions were intolerable. We’ll see.