IOKIYAR (It’s OK if You’re a Republican)—GOP Congressman Jim Hagedorn Gets a Pass on Anti-Semitism and Misogyny March 3, 2019
Welcome to political double-standard land. When first-term Congressmember Ilhan Omar (D-MN) made the blatantly false and bigoted tweets about both sides of the political aisle having been “bought and paid for by AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee),” she was immediately condemned by Democrats and Republicans for using an anti-Semitic trope, read, “Jews control everyone with money.” Her comments created a heavy public backlash. Former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton also attacked Omar’s anti-Semitic tweets (jta.org, Dolsten, J., 2/13/19). The entire leadership of Omar’s own party, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) put out a written statement saying that such anti-Semitism had to be called out “without exception (cnn.com, Sullivan, Watkins, & Raju, 2/11/19).” They added, “Legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate that the United States and Israel share. But Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive. We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments (cnn.com, Sullivan et al, 2/11/19).” Cong. Omar then apologized (cnn.com, Sullivan et al, 2/11/19). Such anti-Semitic statements have no business being considered “normal” in America, something that has been a given since 1945, when the horrors of the Holocaust were exposed. On 2/13/2019, the House passed by a unanimous 424-0 vote a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and attacking all attempts to delegitimize and deny Israel’s right to exist, yes, additional anti-Semitic stances (jewishjournal.com, Bandler, 2/13/19).
In addition to their strong denunciation of anti-Semitism, Democrats have, of course, clearly stood against misogyny, as their backing of the “Me Too” Movement started by sexual assault victims has shown. And where is the GOP in all this? The GOP “talks” a good game about condemning anti-Semitism and misogyny. However, from the top down, its actions tell another story. Demagogue Donald, of course, ran a campaign appealing to white supremacists/anti-Semites with dog whistles, actually, bullhorns. While campaigning, he told a Jewish group that they were great “negotiators” and that “you also wanted to ‘control’ your politicians (nytimes.com, Landler, M., 2/12/19).” Again, “the shrewd Jewish businessmen who like to control everyone” meme. In Campaign 2016, Donald ran an ad of “Crooked Hillary” with oodles of money and a star that looked like the Jewish Star of David, despite his denials. Trump’s final television ad in 2016 featured grainy images of George Soros, the Hungarian Jewish Holocaust survivor, who has become a boogeyman to anti-Semites worldwide. This ad also included Janet Yellen, then Federal Reserve Chair, as well as then Goldman Sachs Chair Lloyd Blankfein, also Jews. Trump warned in this ad of “global special interests,” another anti-Jewish stereotype of the “international Jewish banker” that has been used for years. Once in office, Trump described the neo-Nazis, KKKers, and white supremacists in the Charlottesville 8/17/2017 riot that killed three individuals as “very fine people.” Donald often stated that he “wouldn’t be surprised if Soros himself financed the Hispanic immigrant caravans (See nytimes.com, Landler, 2/12/19).”
Donald is not the only GOPer to traffic in “Soros and friends are pulling the strings” talk. Then House Majority Leader, now Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) ran 2018 midterm ads with Soros and Michael Bloomberg, both Jews, and Tom Steyer, of Jewish ancestry, in them. He described this trio as “trying to buy the election (shareblue.com, Singer, E., 2/11/19).” Remember racist Cong. Steve King (R-IA)? He has tweeted neo-Nazi remarks and constantly engaged in white supremacist talk. It took the GOP at least 17 years to condemn him and strip him from his committee posts (nytimes.com, 1/15/19, Gabriel). However, King stated he won’t apologize for his remarks and plans to run for a 10th term in 2020 (huffpost.com, Karanth, S., 2/21/19). IMHO, King knows many GOPers still sympathize with him. And then there is GOP Cong. Jim Hagedorn. In his 2018 campaign, he attacked his Democratic rival as being “owned by George Soros.” That ad was paid for by the “mainstream” NRCC, National Republican Campaign Committee (salon.com, Derysh, I., 10/20/18). When Jewish American Sen. Joe Lieberman voted for W. Bush’s Iraq War, Hagedorn stated that his vote boiled down to “Jew or Arab (jta.com, Schraub, 2/13/19).” In addition to trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes, Hagedorn is part of the GOP’s misogyny gang along with Demagogue Donald. Before the 2002 elections, Hagedorn called WA U.S. Senate Democrats Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, “undeserving bimbos in tennis shoes.” During the unsuccessful Supreme Ct. confirmation hearings of Harriet Miers, Hagedorn described her nomination by W Bush as an effort “to fill the bra of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.” In 2008, Hagedorn complimented the McCain-Palin ticket. He wrote, “On behalf of all red-blooded American men: THANK YOU SENATOR McCAIN, SARAH’s HOT (washingtonexaminer.com, Wegmann, P., 4/10/18).” There was no GOP outrage at any of Hagedorn’s statements. Hagedorn, a prolific blogger, also put on the internet conspiracy theories about Obama’s birthplace and ranted about “ungrateful” Native Americans and “dead Indians” (washingtonexaminer.com, Wegmann, 4/10/18, MN Star Tribune, Mother Jones). Meet Jim Hagedorn.
First-term Congressman Jim Hagedorn (56) currently represents MN’s 1st Congressional District (CD). The present MN 1st CD includes most of the Gopher State’s two southern tiers of counties and stretches over 250 miles from the SD border to the WI one. The MN 1st is a predominantly rural area. Agriculture and food processing drive the local economy, with 20,000 farms dotting the landscape. These farms raise corn, soybeans, sugar beets, dairy products, and hogs. The 1st has among the highest agricultural market values of any district in the country. Austin is the headquarters of the Hormel meatpacking firm which produces hams, “Spam,” and Dinty Moore stew. Health care also drives the economy here. The Mayo Clinic is located in the 1st’s city of Rochester. It employs more than 33,000 physicians, scientists, and health care staff and draws patients from all over the world. At least 42% of Rochester’s residents hold a bachelor’s degree. The 1st has become a leader in renewable energy. Sulzon Wind Energy operates a blade-manufacturing facility in Pipestone and EnXco and Xcel Energy opened a 201-megawatt wind farm in the 1st’s Nobles County. The cities and towns of Mankato, Winona, Albert Lea, New Ulm, and Blue Earth are included in the 1st (Barone & CQ 14 Political Almanacs).
The 1st was initially settled by New England Yankees and after the Civil War by German and Scandinavian immigrants. The 1st is 90% Anglo white, but Hispanic immigrants, who now make up over 6% of its population, have come here to work in the factories. Worthington, MN has a lot of immigrants and a large non-English speaking school population. Politically, the 1st has usually been a moderate and competitive area. The GOP has won state races here, but Obama triumphed in 2008 by 4 points and by a narrow 1.4% margin in 20012. Donald clobbered Hillary in 2016 by 14.9 points. In 2006, the 1st’s six-term GOP Congressman lost to Democrat Tim Walz, who went on to win election to the MN governorship in 2018. The latest Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) gives the MN 1st an R+5 score (Cook Political Report, 4/07/17).
Blue Earth, MN native Jim Hagedorn is no stranger to politics. The son of former MN State House member (1971-1975) and ex-GOP U.S. Congressman Tom Hagedorn (1975-1983), Jim was raised between his Truman, MN family farm and Washington, D.C. (greatermankato.com,”Jim Hagedorn, Mewes, T., 8/10/18, mankatofreepress.com, leg.state.mn.us). Jim Hagedorn received a 1993 George Mason University Bachelor of Arts degree. After graduating, Hagedorn worked as a legislative assistant to MN GOP Cong. Arlan Stangeland. Hagedorn also worked in the U.S. Treasury Department as Director for Legislative and Public Affairs for the Financial Management Service, (1991-1998), and later as Congressional Affairs Officer for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (jimhagedorn.org, Kanowski, S., 10/12/18). He ran twice against then 1st district Dem. Cong. Walz in 2014 and 2016, losing by 8.5% in 2014 and by just .7% in 2016 when Donald handily carried the MN 1st (MN Sec. of State, 2014 & 2016).
Hagedorn’s third time was the proverbial “charm.” When Walz successfully ran for Governor in 2018, Hagedorn ran for the open 1st CD seat against Democrat Dan Feehan. Feehan, a former U.S. Army Ranger and Bronze Star recipient for his Iraq War service, also served as a senior Pentagon official under Obama. Feehan emphasized his ability to be a pragmatist, not an ideologue like Hagedorn. Hagedorn bragged that he had been pushing Trump’s anti-immigrant and other positions “before Donald even came along” and that Feehan would be a “far leftist.” In addition to the nasty anti-Semitic Soros ad used by Hagedorn, his camp engaged in “swiftboating” or attacking Feehan’s military record, a tactic GOPers successfully used against 2004 Dem. presidential nominee John Kerry. Both parties put in tons of money in this congressional race. The Democrats spent at least $2.5 million, which included attacking Hagedorn on health care. The GOP, however, outspent “Team Blue” going after Feehan with at least $5.5 million. Hagedorn, who had been running non-stop for the 1st CD seat for at least 4 years, seemed to be known by many voters. It did not hurt that Hagedorn’s father had represented much of the territory in this district when he had previously served in the House. In effect, although both candidates were running for an open seat, Jim Hagedorn looked like an incumbent to many, a political asset. The MN 1st was one of the few districts in the 2018 “Blue” tidal wave year where a GOPer flipped a former Democratic seat. Hagedorn narrowly defeated Feehan by a .45 percentage margin (startribune.com, AP, 11/16/18, Brodey, S. minnpost.com, salon.com, 10/20/18, Derysh, I., 10/20/18).
In the House, Cong. Hagedorn serves on the Agricultural and Small Business Committees, posts that will be helpful to his constituents (See ballotpedia.org/Jim Hagedorn). In his first term, the current 116th Congress, Rep. Hagedorn has voted with Demagogue Donald 92.3% of the time, a record similar to that of a rock-ribbed Southern GOPer (See projects.fivethirtyeight.com, 2/14/19). On 2/26/2019, Hagedorn, despite representing a swing district, was one of the 182 House GOPers who voted against blocking Demagogue Donald’s ridiculous and legally dubious declaration of a “national emergency” on the southern border with Mexico. Only 13 GOPers joined all 232 Democrats in voting to block this Trump stunt (See nytimes.com/interactive/2019/02/26). We should not at all be surprised by Hagedorn’s pro-Trump party-line “build the wall/ emergency” vote.
Hagedorn’s 2018 Democratic opponent Feehan is leaving the door open to a possible 2020 rematch (startribune.com, AP, 11/16/18). Whether Feehan or another Democrat runs in 2020, national Democrats must financially support him/her. And most importantly, MN 1st CD Democrats and independents must come out in droves to defeat Cong. Hagedorn in 11/2020. Hagedorn must not get a free pass on his bigotry and extremism.