Oklahomans have had to endure another embarrassment because of the idiocy of one of the members of the state Legislature. While it is not the same type of shame brought upon us by Ralph Shortey when he was caught in a hotel room with drugs and a 17-year-old boy, the current controversy created by State Sen. Nathan Dahm's remarks about the vice president of the U.S. is humiliation enough.
Dahm, in the process of tilting at windmills in the form of paper straws, decided to include insinuations about Kamala Harris and the supposed reasons for her success. Not content to try to gain the attention he so obviously craves by attacking President Biden and a high-profile member of his own party in U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, Dahm suggested Harris had a particular nonpolitical skill that made it possible for her to have gotten her start in politics. The quote can be readily found on the internet, and space will not be used in this column to repeat it.
What Dahm said is just another ignorant statement in a long line of ignorant statements by an apparently ignorant man. It belies his adherence to the tenets of his professed faith, because even underneath the misogyny, and the personal attacks on people he disagrees with politically, all you get with Dahm are just vicious, innuendo-based remarks coming from a small, embittered person who either never learned the lesson to treat everyone with dignity and respect, or has decided to ignore that lesson entirely. How people with such deep-seated insecurities not only find their way into public office, but manage to stay there, will forever be a mystery to me.
Thankfully, Rev. Dr. Lee E. Cooper Jr. stood up for right while standing before the state Senate, calling out Dahm for his comments. Of course, several of Dahm's colleagues were, for some reason, so offended that they left the chamber to express their displeasure. But Rev. Cooper was correct in saying, "Everyone who heard [Dahm's comment] should have deemed it wrong." To the credit of State Sens. Greg Treat and Kim David, they have spoken out against what Dahm said. They need to carry through with disciplinary action against Dahm for the good of the Senate and the state of Oklahoma.
If they are trying to convince Dahm to apologize, they are likely to be unsuccessful. It is doubtful they can even get a man so woefully lacking in self-awareness to even fake unspoken contrition. Apparently, they are not even able to prevail upon Dahm to remain silent. He has gone on record to say he is not sorry, hiding behind the old trope that he will not be politically correct and deeming the opinions of others irrelevant on the basis that they are "emotional."
With that statement, Dahm added hypocrisy to the pile of wrongs he has committed in this situation. Only people who have some kind of inner torment say the kinds of things Dahm has said since joining the Legislature. Yes, he has a record of ridiculous, harmful, and needlessly inflammatory statements. It is obvious how badly he needs to be in the spotlight and that he knows expressions of derision against people who are different than him will put him there. If the senator is so worried about "emotional opinions," someone should remind him that pettiness, insecurity, and desperation are emotions, too.
If the senator is capable of even the smallest amount of self-reflection, he needs to engage in it immediately. Maybe he can find his way to, for once, doing the right thing and apologizing to the vice president.
Jason Nichols is past District 2 Democratic Party chair, an instructor of political science at Northeastern State University, and former mayor of Tahlequah.