Steve King, The Outrage Du Jour, And Obama's Challenge

Reader J.G.: "Obviously, the Germans were dancing in the streets when Eisenhower was appointed the Supreme Allied Commander...."

Rep. Steve King (R-IA):

"They will be dancing in the streets if he's elected president and that has a chilling effect on how difficult it will be to ever win this global war on terror,"

Never one to mince words or self-filter, Rep. King has cooked up the outrage du jour by suggesting that the "optics of a Barack Obama potentially getting elected president of the United States" does matter.

It does matter. His middle name does matter. It matters because they read meaning into that and the rest of the world, it has special meaning to them. They'll be dancing in the streets because of his middle name. They'll be dancing in the streets because of who his father was and because of his posture that says pull out of the Middle East and pull out of this conflict. So there are implications that have to do with who he is and the positions that he has taken.

Uncouth, of course, and transparently silly to many, but King is making an argument that Obama will be forced to contend with because he has an Arabic middle name and an African surname. King's argument, however misleading, is different than the non-contextual references to his middle name, or the false allegations about his religion.

King has his facts wrong. Obama doesn't want to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, first of all. Second of all, Al Qaeda, dancing in the streets? There are 400 of them, and they live in caves. Thirdly: wouldn't it more likely that Obama is viewed as an infidel? And Andrew Sullivan, in his December '07 Atlantic cover, starts with the same premise and comes to the opposite conclusion:

Consider this hypothetical. It’s November 2008. A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees that this man—Barack Hussein Obama—is the new face of America. In one simple image, America’s soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm. A brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama’s face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can.

Listen to the King comments here: