Is Joni Ernst The Future of Republican Politics?

I was going to try to hold off on any further comments about Joni Ernst until after her response to the SOTU Address, but then the headline of a puffy profile of the new Iowa Senator by RealClearPolitics’ Caitlin Huey-Burns made me gag and then reach for the keyboard: “Sen. Joni Ernst–From Iowa Farm Girl to GOP Star.”

Thus continues the joint GOP/MSM effort to whitewash the actually very recent period of time when Ernst was a prominent wingnut member of the Iowa Senate who supported constitutional personhood rights for zygotes, claimed states should be able to nullify federal environmental rules, and promoted the psychotic Agenda 21 meme. She did not go straight from a hog farm to deployment in Kuwait and then suddenly decide what the Senate needed was a big dose of Iowa Nice. She’s a dedicated ideologue who cynically ran one of the most blatantly dumb campaigns in memory, exploiting the even dumber gaffes of her opponent. And she’s about as authentic a representative of the “Iowa farmer” as Bachelor contestant Chris Soules, now that the poor guy is being used as Hollywood’s idea of what a farmer should look and act like.

It’s disturbing that Ernst is being treated as the future of Republican politics, since that implies that the road to success is to tell “the base” exactly what it wants to hear before treating general election audiences to a hash of biographical stereotypes seasoned with bland assertions of being opposed to Big Government and Waste, Fraud and Abuse. At a minimum, her actual record before becoming a “GOP Star” should be remembered. She wasn’t born yesterday.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.