Steve King is what’s wrong with Congress. Where are the Bob Doles?

By Peter Fenn – 07/25/13 03:25 PM ET

When it comes to Republican Rep. Steve King (Iowa), civility and common decency are dead and buried.

His latest comment about children as “anchor babies” and “drug mules” crossing the border was universally condemned, even by his fellow Republicans. Speaker Boehner referred to “hateful language,” Eric Cantor called the comments “inexcusable” and right-wing Rep. Raul Labrador (Idaho) said they were “reprehensible and irresponsible.”


His hard-line and extremist views would have made him a one-term member of Congress in years past. Sadly, too many members of his caucus hold similar views that are preventing a vote on the immigration bill and other legislation to improve the plight of middle-class families. The extremism and gridlock of the Steve Kings may be a key reason why Congress is held in such low regard.The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal survey indicates that 83 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing; nearly 6 in 10 say that if they could replace every singly member of Congress they would do so.

Right now, 56 percent of Americans believe that Republicans are too inflexible in dealing with President Obama and yet 18 percent believe they are “too quick to give in.” That 18 percent is clearly the Tea Party crowd, the hardcore, far-right Republicans who believe that compromise is a four-letter word.

That is a reflection of a large group of Republicans who would make Ronald Reagan blush yet use his name to justify their positions as naysayers. Reagan would not recognize the Republicans in the Steve King camp; he would not tolerate them. Conservatives of yesteryear like Bob Dole find the tenor and the tone and the issue positions to be out of step. The GOP should be “closed for repairs” Dole said and he wisely stated that both he and Reagan wouldn’t have made it in today’s Republican primaries and caucuses.

Dole celebrated his 90th birthday in the Capitol this week as the Tea Party Caucus was right next door. What an irony. A man who gave nearly three-quarters of a century to his country and worked across the political aisle like a pro to better people’s lives finds himself shoulder to shoulder with those who killed the disability treaty and who mock his ability to compromise and actually accomplish something.

As a Democrat, I do sincerely hope that the future of the Republican Party is much closer to the vision and compassion and capability of a Bob Dole than the cynicism and extremism of a Steve King.