MINOT, N.D. — This election year hasn't even made it through January, and already the North Dakota Republican Party has seen a trio of its elected members involved in deeply embarrassing social media imbroglios.
Rep. Jim Kasper, a Republican from a Fargo-area district, saw news of his announced re-election campaign overshadowed by a story, from my colleague Jeremy Turley, about ugly anti-Islam posts on his Facebook profile.
Kasper has claimed he was maybe hacked, perhaps by his political foes, though if that's the case, he didn't notice the rampant posting of hateful caricatures about Muslims going back at least as far as 2016.
The posts aren't defensible. Kasper himself isn't defending them, choosing instead to explain them away with conspiracy theories about hackers.
Kasper's Facebook friends know who the author of those posts is because they've watched Kasper making them over and over again for years.
Just as Rep. Daniel Johnston's friends no doubt saw him (or perhaps his wife, since they're of those benighted sorts who share a Facebook profile) posting a "lol" under a racist joke about a car getting stolen at a black church.
Johnston, a Republican from Kathryn who is campaigning for statewide office this year, also once posted a "joke" in which the punchline describes former President Barack Obama as a "Muslim with no brain, no heart, and no balls."
And then there's Senator Oley Larsen, a Republican from Minot, who back in October made national headlines by posting a meme suggesting that Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a Democrat, was trained in an al-Qaeda camp.
He apologized, sort of, for the whole trained-by-al-Qaeda thing, but he made it clear he wasn't apologizing to Omar, which defeats the purpose of apologizing.
Just before I wrote this column, I observed Larsen, apparently taking some time away from helping to pick the next member of the State Board of Higher Education, insisting in a Facebook thread that President Trump wasn't impeached because "only the Senate can impeach a President and that has not happened yet."
This is not a bright bulb we're dealing with.
What is frustrating is how much tolerance Republican voters generally, and the NDGOP specifically, has for this sort of thing.
It is embarrassing. Party leadership should be addressing these situations, publicly, but what we get is either silence or condemnations that are about as potent as they are sincere.
Remember, Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) called on Larsen to step down as the Senate's president pro tempore, but Larsen has blown him off, and Wardner seems content to let the matter go.
The NDGOP may feel invulnerable, and indeed, they have reasonable cause to feel that way given the biennial thrashing they give Democrats at the polls.
There is a point, though, at which the public's patience with Republican stupidity is going to run out.
Every time a Republican elected official makes headline with some stupid social media post or Republicans nominate a peeping tom for statewide office, or object to a non-Christian invocation at the Legislature, or accuses a sitting Congresswoman of being trained by the same group responsible for the 9/11 attacks, some credibility is lost.
Maybe Republicans don't care. With North Dakota Democrats beaten back to the margins of relevance, and insult-comic-in-chief Donald Trump sitting in the White House, perhaps it doesn't matter.
It should, though, for the sake of integrity, if nothing else.
To comment on this article, visit www.sayanythingblog.com
Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator. Listen to his Plain Talk Podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RobPort.