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Editorial: Careless political rhetoric tarnishes Iowa’s reputation

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | JULY 10, 2014 5:00 AM

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Yet again, the state of Iowa has its name plastered across the American political press for a less-than-savory reason.

In a video from January released on Yahoo News this past week, Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst can be heard calling for the impeachment of President Barack Obama in front of a crowd at a Republican Party forum in Montgomery County. The comment arose from questions over the president’s use of recess appointments to fill positions on the National Labor Relations Board with candidates that Republican members of the Senate refused to approve. Specifically, Ernst said, “I do think that yes, he should face those repercussions, and whether that’s removal from office, whether that’s impeachment …”

This is just the latest addition to a long and ignoble tradition of Iowa politicians saying incredibly ill advised and asinine statements that embarrass the state on a national stage. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, is one culprit, creating gems as “For [every child of an undocumented immigrant] who’s a valedictorian, there  are another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds — and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert” and claims that building an electrified  border fence to keep out immigrants from Latin American countries is no big deal because Americans “do that with livestock all the time.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, once remarked that, “In the case of the Japanese, they usually commit suicide before they make an apology.”

Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, Ernst’s opponent in the Senate race to fill the seat to be left by retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, produced an advertisement that compared Ernst to a baby “chick” who was “docile” on tax issues, a questionable message that has drawn cries of sexism.

All of these statements are obviously inane, filled with hyperbole and a lack of adequate understanding of the topics being addressed. If we are going to at least attempt to have a serious debate in this country over fundamental issues such as taxes, immigration, and the social contract in general, it would behoove our politicians to demonstrate some care and tact in the words and phrases they employ when engaged in discourse.

And this discourse translates into action on the issues that the nation faces. When the people charged with deciding what course the country will take demonstrate a rhetorical incompetency that reveals a certain lack of finesse toward action, it doesn’t bode well for a nation facing numerous crises.

However, the real issue at stake is not what it says about the functional prowess of the state’s politicians (though much could probably be gleaned from their statements — nothing positive, unfortunately), but what it does to the state’s reputation nationwide.

It would seem that Iowa has become a factory for political hot air, a place that fosters questionable word choice as if it’s expected of those aiming to lead the population.

When the state’s political representatives, the people elected by the population to serve them in Congress, from either side of the aisle make utter fools of themselves with rhetorical lapses, it becomes demeaning to voters. If Iowan politicians want to embarrass themselves, they’re more than welcome to, but diminishing the credibility and reputation of Iowans is something that shouldn’t be tolerated. 


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