One of the odder YouTube clips circulating the last couple of days involves a group of Iowa Republicans gathered by Fox News to react after President Obama's Sunday afternoon interview by that network's Bill O'Reilly.
A little ways into the clip, the breathless facilitator, Frank Luntz --- a Fox media commentator and analyst who as a pollster and commercial consultant specializes in "message creation and image management" --- asks group members to raise their hands if they believe Obama is Muslim. A majority apparently does.
There's at least one thing to remember here. As much as I love to pick on Iowa Republicans, there's no indication a significant percentage of them are (a) racist (homophobic is another matter) or (b) believe that the president is Muslim. So Luntz's focus group is by no means representative --- but since it was commissioned by Fox News no sensible person would expect it to be.
The difficulty is that a group like this, at least half of whose members have refillable prescriptions for stupid pills, will be perceived elsewhere as representative of the Iowa GOP --- and by implication Iowans in general.
So why, at a time when a good percentage of everything involves image rather than substance, is Iowa's image apparently being "managed" to make us appear to be the home of stupid and land of the wingnut? Personally, as a conspiracy theorist, I believe it's a Minnesota plot.
I'm not sure how many "birthers" there are in Iowa --- these are the folks who in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary insist that President Obama was born in Kenya. Probably not that many.
But there certainly is a deep well of racism --- at the heart of the birther Muslim comspiracy outlook and much of the vitrol directed at Obama. Lucas County, for example, proved to be fertile territory for the post-1900 Ku Klux Klan whose membership at one point included the county sheriff. I could name names, but other than my own sheet-wearing great-aunt and great-uncle, usually don't.
There's still a whiff of that in Iowa, especially in rural areas where faces other than white are rarely seen.
And like death and taxes, the stupid --- plain old dumb-ass stupid --- always are with us.
I wish the Iowa GOP would stop calculatedly facilitating the wingnuts among us by offering them a partisan soapbox in order to hold onto their votes. The weather gives us as much trouble as we need convincing folks who might come here to live, work and create jobs that it's a good place to be.
In the homophobia (and racism) department, an Iowa House subcommittee is scheduled to consider today a bill introduced by Republican Rep. Richard Anderson of Clarinda (House Study Bill 50: Religious Conscience Protection Act) that would allow business owners, organizations and others to to deny jobs, housing, goods and services to people involved in marriages that violate their religious convictions.
In addition to same-sex couples, that could involve interracial couples, interreligious couples --- any married person for that matter who the business owner doesn't like --- on religious grounds, of course.
Ya gotta love it. Makes you wonder just how many Iowans really do arise from their (heterosexual) marriage beds every morning and say, "hand me them stupid pills, Ma."