U.S. Rep. Steve King updates members of Carroll Area Development Corporation, chamber members and locally elected officials during a meeting held Oct. 1 at the chamber building.
U.S. Rep. Steve King updates members of Carroll Area Development Corporation, chamber members and locally elected officials during a meeting held Oct. 1 at the chamber building.

October 2, 2018

U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, Monday described challenges to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s moral fitness as a “high-tech lynching 2.0,” an analogy to Justice Clarence Thomas’ defense a generation ago.

What’s more, in a meeting with Carroll Chamber of Commerce members, King, who has a one-on-one session scheduled for this week with President Donald Trump, said he doesn’t plan to raise alternative suggestions to the embattled Kavanaugh.

King will urge Trump to stick with Kavanaugh, the congressman said as he strongly condemned a modern culture in which sexual misconduct, in King’s view, is defined by those making the allegations.

“There’s not much we can do right now except ride this thing out for the balance of this week, and hopefully this thing comes to a conclusion,” King said. “I guess I’ll say I’m very disappointed that we had to have this circus. I remember very distinctly the high-tech lynching of Clarence Thomas.”

He added, “This is a high-tech lynching 2.0, and it’s several times greater, worse than what Clarence Thomas went through. I have all kinds of empathy for the Kavanaugh family. I don’t assert that Dr. Ford thinks she’s lying. I think she believes what she’s saying.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s interviewing last week of Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused the jurist of sexual assault while both were teenagers, appears to be credible, King said.

“Any corroboration is there on the side of Kavanaugh’s argument, and there’s no corroboration on the side of Dr. Ford,” he said.

King said Kavanaugh’s full record of public service is “stellar.”

“The people sitting and passing judgment on him, I don’t know if any of them would want to be exposed to that kind of scrutiny, whether they’re Democrats or Republicans,” King said. “I know that there are a number of them that could not withstand that kind of scrutiny.”

King said there is no blemish on Kavanaugh’s record, just unsubstantiated allegations.

“I just think about where we have gone from Clarence Thomas, which created sexual harassment in our legal world, sexual harassment defined by the person who issues the complaint, and you don’t know if you’re a harasser until you’ve been accused of it, and the accusation itself is enough to make you guilty of it,” King said.

Des Moines Area Community College Carroll campus Provost Joel Lundstrom told King he disagreed with the congressman’s views on sexual harassment and termed Kavanaugh a “toxic” public figure. Lundstrom asked King why Republicans don’t simply drop Kavanaugh and move on to another nominee.

“He was the most-qualified nominee available,” King said.

Carroll attorney Jair Mayhall, seeing the pitched political fight over Kavanaugh as a “microcosm” of wider divisions in the nation, asked King if he had any reasons for optimism that Republicans and Democrats can work together and tone down tensions.

King blamed both Trump and former President Barack Obama for extreme partisanship.

Obama, King said, was well-positioned to bring the nation together but instead pointed out differences between people for political ends. “So that was bad,” King said.

The wrecking ball Trump took to collegiality in American politics started within his own party, King said.

“He labeled every one of his political opposition, all the other Republican presidential candidates, with some kind of a nickname, some kind of a moniker that disparaged them,” King said. “Well, that encourages other people to do the same thing. And he’s done that with whoever his enemies of opposition are.”

King said the breakdown of civility is evident in places he never saw it before — at parades, for example. He’s getting heckled more often in more places, King said.

“It’s not the America we had even five years ago,” King said.

King, a Republican with a national profile, said the fall of conservative Democrats, so-called Blue Dogs, has contributed to the ugliness of politics because the compromise contingent in Congress is now largely absent, with most of the conservative Democrats having lost to Republicans.

“There’s nobody left in the middle to do business with,” King said.

On local and agricultural issues, King told Raccoon Valley Electric Cooperative CEO Jim Gossett that year-round E15 sales makes sense, and that he would continue to urge the Trump administration to move on it. There has been a long-standing summertime ban on such sales.

Carroll City Manager Mike Pogge-Weaver told King that Carroll County’s unemployment rate, now at 1.9 percent, remains a major challenge.

“We need people, that’s desperately what we need,” Pogge-Weaver said.

That’s a big focus of the Carroll Area Development Corporation, said that organization’s president, Jim Auen.

“One of the biggest pressures for rural Iowa is retention of young adults,” Auen said.

Diversity in housing is essential, as is quality of life, Auen said.

“It’s not just one thing that someone might move back to rural Iowa for,” Auen said.

On trade, King said he would not have opened up NAFTA, as it was good for Iowa and the farm community.

“I think it complicated a number of our trade discussions around the world,” King said.

That said, he is cheered by prospects for improved trade with Asia and Canada.

King said he would have liked to have the farm bill done by Sept. 30.

“We are really without a farm bill right now,” he said, adding that one could be done in early December, bringing needed certainties to rural America.

Later this week, King said he would be talking directly with Trump on trade, legislation to prohibit abortions and tougher immigration measures.