You can tell that the Republican party is beginning to run scared. With the majority of Americans blaming them and President Trump for the government shutdown, with their massive loss of the House of Representatives during the midterms, and with the continuing investigations by Special Counsel Robert Mueller that threaten to implicate the most powerful members of their party, their posture has become considerably more defensive since the new year began.
Proof of the loss of the fearless arrogance they once conducted themselves with comes with the news this afternoon that Republican leaders in the House have decided to finally punish the man that they allowed to spout the most outrageously offensive statements for years before suddenly realizing that he was now a liability because of his fervently racist remarks.
The New York Times reports that Representative Steve King (R-IA) has been stripped of his positions on the Judiciary and Agriculture Committees on Monday night as House GOP leaders fell over themselves to appear to condemn racism and manage the fallout from comments that the extreme right-wing congressman made questioning the reasons white supremacy is considered offensive.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other House Republican bigwigs moved to sanction Rep. King in an attempt to get ahead of the multiple censure resolutions being sponsored by Democratic lawmakers who roundly condemned King’s bigotry, a reaction exemplified by this tweet from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Journalism isn’t just about the questions you ask, but the questions you don’t.
If you’re a reporter or pundit who has badgered every Dem about “socialism” yet aren’t asking EVERY Republican about what they plan to do about Rep. King’s white supremacy,you’re telling on yourself.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 14, 2019
Even Republican leaders in the Senate chimed in to express their politically-motivated shock and outrage at King’s comments. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters that the Iowa representative should find “another line of work” and Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) urged King to resign.
According to The Times, McCarthy “said he was not ruling out supporting a censure or reprimand resolution against Mr. King. He said the Republicans are not removing Mr. King from the G.O.P. House conference itself so he can still attend its party meetings.”
“I think voters have that decision to make. But I think we spoke loud and clear that we will not tolerate this in the Republican Party,” said Mr. McCarthy, who conferred privately with Mr. King for an hour on Monday afternoon, the newspaper writes.
The mechanics of King’s removal started when McCarthy convened a special meeting of the Republican Steering Committee which voted unanimously to remove Rep. King from the Judiciary Committee — which is tasked with overseeing immigration, voting rights and impeachment — the Agriculture Committee, a particularly valued assignment for a farm state representative, and the Small Business Committee.
While Rep. King has been making controversial statements about race for years without his fellow party members objecting strenuously, his latest comments from an interview with The New York Times — “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” — prompted the GOP’s lone African-American Senator, Tim Scott (R-SC) to write an op-ed in The Washington Post condemning his own party for damaging “the conservative brand” by consistently refusing to speak out against racist comments such as King’s.
“Some in our party wonder why Republicans are constantly accused of racism — it is because of our silence when things like this are said,” Senator Scott wrote.
While the panicked and long-delayed reaction to Steve King’s racism is a welcome development for the GOP, Republican leaders may not find it quite so easy to condemn the man who has made as many, if not more, offensive comments than even the Iowa congressman, President Trump himself. The day that happens will be the day America knows the end of the Trump presidency is near.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.