Politico tells us that Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), infamous for his bigoted comments on illegal aliens, is “hitting the trail” with his anti-immigrant screed. (“If you bring people from a violent civilization into a less-violent civilization, you’re going to have more violence right? It’s like pouring hot water into cold water, does it raise the temperature or not?”)
But the thing is that no one — outside the Beltway — takes him all that seriously. The photo accompanying Politico’s report of an anti-immigration in Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s Richmond, Va., district shows exactly 14 people. (Politico claims a grand total of 60 attended the rally.) Polling shows King’s own constituents favor immigration reform. Yet Politico, as is its sensationalistic habit, chooses to take King seriously and accord him relevance in the current debate.
Is King a “problem” for the pro-immigration reformers? In an odd way, he’s actually a great asset. He’s an obvious crank. That and the naked display of venom of the anti-immigrant crowd prove embarrassing to anti-immigration lawmakers.
Buried in Politico’s story is that top Republican House leaders, including Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Dave Reichert (Wash.), Aaron Schock (Ill.) and Dan Webster (Fla.), are out talking up immigration reform. In the two last paragraphs of an article playing up King’s role, Politico lets on:
Ali Noorani, the executive director of the National Immigration Forum, argued that those are the opinions that really matter in the reform debate, adding: “The Steve King caucus is not growing.”
“Every single week, there are a handful of House Republicans saying that ‘I support immigration reform,’” Noorani said. “In order to win leadership, you win the conference. And the conference is moving toward supporting immigration reform.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), in a crowd of constituents, is captured on an amateur video explaining, “We have to get the votes. That’s what we
need. We need, member to members we’ve gotta get the votes. And I
think that’s where we’re moving toward right now. I mean I definitely
think we’ve gained traction, we’re not there yet, there are still some things
we need to iron out with both sides of the aisle you know, so it’s not just
Republicans and Democrats, both sides of the aisle are finalizing some things
they have some concerns about … but I think we’re getting closer every day.”
But then a story about Republicans gradually reaching consensus on immigration reform isn’t as “clickable” as one tarring the party with the Steve King brush, is it?