If the U.S. Senate race in Iowa between state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) and Rep. Bruce Braley (D) has one defining feature, it's not that polls show a statistical dead heat, but it's that one of the candidates is straight up off her rocker in a way that Sarah Palin couldn't even begin to comprehend. Joan Walsh suggests Ernst is this year's Todd Akin, but even this gives her too much credit. While Akin has said many dumb things about the same subject (rape), Ernst says many dumb things about many subjects.
We were reminded of Ernst's buffoonery on Tuesday, when The Daily Beast obtained video showing her speaking last year in front of the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, where she advocated nullification.
“You know we have talked about this at the state legislature before, nullification. But, bottom line is, as U.S. Senator why should we be passing laws that the states are considering nullifying? Bottom line: our legislators at the federal level should not be passing those laws. We’re right…we’ve gone 200-plus years of federal legislators going against the Tenth Amendment’s states’ rights. We are way overstepping bounds as federal legislators. So, bottom line, no we should not be passing laws as federal legislators — as senators or congressman — that the states would even consider nullifying. Bottom line.”
I'm tempted to think she meant bottom of the barrel line, because that's exactly where this word casserole is coming from.
Here's a bottom line: the idea that states can "nullify" federal laws (i.e., ignore them) is dead, having been settled by the Supremacy Clause in the Constitution, and then affirmed in the Civil War, as well by subsequent legislation and caselaw. Bottom line.
You can also tell from her remarks that she really struggled to articulate her position. The redundancy of her words ("bottom line," "federal legislators") as well as a fundamental misunderstanding of what she's talking about (nullification), is usually a dead giveaway that someone's reached the end of the well in terms of their understanding of an issue. Yet this is basic American civics.
But this is only the latest in string of falsehoods, gaffes, flubs, and crazy statements from Ernst. To wit:
- In March she ran a campaign ad that began,
"I'm Joni Ernst. I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm."
- In May, she doubted the science pointing to climate change.
- Later in May, she told the Des Moines Register, "I have reason to believe there was weapons of mass destruction (sic)" in Iraq.
- Later in May, she described Elliot Rodger's killing spree at the University of California-Santa Barbara as an "unfortunate accident," while simultaneously touting her gun cred by noting that she'd been endorsed by the NRA. This also occurred after she released an ad in which she fires a gun, an act which at this point has become a standard GOP campaign meme.
- In June, she was forced to say publicly that she was "appalled" by Facebook posts by her husband, including, "What do you do if you see your ex running around in your front yard screaming and bloody? Stay calm. Reload. And try again." Another post said of then Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, "And am I suppose (sic) to give up my guns? As if! Traitorous skank!"
With three full months before the general election, which will include a few debates with her Democratic opponent and unscripted Q&As with the public, it will be a miracle if Ernst makes it through without imploding à la Todd Akin or Richard Mourdock. So you should definitely keep an eye on this race, because Joni Ernst has only just begun to crazy.