Despite her Beltway reputation, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has “surprisingly partisan” political tendencies. As longtime readers may recall, Rice has a reputation for relative high-mindedness, especially when compared to some of her former Bush/Cheney colleagues, but she’s a more aggressive Republican than is generally appreciated.
Today, for example, Rice threw her support to one of the nation’s most right-wing U.S. Senate candidates: Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst.
“Joni Ernst has dedicated her life to the service of others, bravely leading troops in Iraq and safely bringing them home to Iowa. Now Iowans have an opportunity to make her the first female combat veteran to ever serve in the U.S. Senate,” Rice said in a statement released by Ernst’s campaign.“We need more leaders, like Joni, who understand America’s role abroad and the threats posed against us,” she added.
That’s certainly a nice sentiment, but the notion that Joni Ernst has an admirable understanding of America’s role abroad is tough to take seriously.
It’s Ernst, after all, who recently argued that Saddam Hussein really did have weapons of mass destruction – reality be damned – based on secret evidence that Ernst has “reason to believe,” but can’t explain.
I can see why such nonsense might endear the far-right candidate to a veteran of the Bush/Cheney team, but it doesn’t exactly reflect someone with sound judgment on international affairs.
For that matter, Ernst also argued in a recent debate that “there’s no sense” in having members of Congress meet their obligations under the Constitution when it comes to authorizing the use of military force abroad.
And, then, of course, there are Ernst fears about the Agenda 21 conspiracy.
Remember this one?
The latest primary comments that could haunt her Senate bid are on the topic of Agenda 21, a community planning provision in a decades-old United Nations treaty that’s become an object of fear and conspiracy theories on the right, and especially in the commentaries and writing of Glenn Beck.Yahoo News has obtained video showing Ernst at a January GOP forum in Montgomery County, Iowa, warning that Agenda 21 could force Iowa farmers off their land, dictate what cities Iowans must live in, and control how Iowa citizens travel from place to place.
As we talked about when Yahoo News first published this, in response to a question about Agenda 21, Ernst responded as if she’d given the fringe topic quite a bit of thought.
“The United Nations has imposed this upon us, and as a U.S. senator, I would say, ‘No more. No more Agenda 21,’” Ernst said earlier this year. “Community planning – to the effect that it is implementing eminent domain and taking away property rights away from individuals – I don’t agree with that…. We don’t want to see a further push with Agenda 21, where the Agenda 21 and the government telling us that these are the urban centers that you will live in; these are the ways that you will travel to other urban centers. Agenda 21 encompasses so many different aspects of our lives that it’s taking away our individual liberties, our freedoms as United States citizens.”
A couple of months prior, but still during her U.S. Senate candidacy, Ernst argued that Agenda 21 could lead to “moving people off of their agricultural land and consolidating them into city centers, and then telling them that you don’t have property rights anymore.”
By most fair measures, these are the words of a crackpot on America’s political fringe. And yet, Ernst is not only positioned to win a U.S. Senate seat next week, she has former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice praising her understanding of America’s role abroad.