Once again, Iowa is back in the national news. This time it’s thanks to our lovely state senator from Ottumwa, Mark Chelgren.
NBC News revealed that Chelgren mischaracterized holding a business degree from Forbco Management school that was actually a six-month management class certificate. Forbco only operated a Sizzler restaurant, which led to immediate ridicule all across the internet on Wednesday. National reporters and political watchers from coast to coast made Chelgren Sizzler jokes as dozens of stories ridiculing the senator piled up.
Now, look. Politics is a tough business. Often times an unfair one where the consequences outweigh the purported crime. Is national ridicule a proportionate result for a state legislator who listed a certificate as a degree? Perhaps not.
But you know what?
It’s Mark Chelgren, so fuck him.
Because here’s another part of politics: what goes around comes around. And if you act like a massive dick all the time, people are going to be a hell of a lot less forgiving when something goes wrong for you.
Before this episode, Chelgren suggested that immigrants who come into the country a second time should be executed. He compared pre-K education to Nazi indoctrination. The multitude of ridiculous bills he introduces every year are grounded in a mean-spirited, borderline conspiracy theory morass of stupidity. Chelgren waves around his pocket Constitution on the floor of the Iowa Senate, but it’s clear he doesn’t comprehend the document in the slightest. The guy is dumb as a box of rocks, and not because he doesn’t have a college degree.
So Chelgren has no one to blame but himself for his current misfortunes that could undermine his looming reelection campaign in 2018. He proposed a nasty piece of legislation, aimed at denying good people jobs just because he disagrees with their political leanings. His educational background and biography hadn’t gotten serious scrutiny before, but by targeting Iowa’s colleges, he invited the dangers of being put under the microscope.
And it is ridiculous that Chelgren complained about having to endure “liberal” professors, when it’s questionable just how many university professors he’s had interactions with in his life. It’s hard to imagine political disagreements coming up in his other astro-physics classes that he took in California. Perhaps he misunderstood his Sizzler manager explaining how to use a “liberal” amount of seasoning on the steaks, and felt unfairly politically persecuted.
One more thing: it shouldn’t have taken an investigation from NBC News to uncover this. Chelgren’s Forbco “degree” has been listed on his websites since at least 2014, when he narrowly won his reelection race by 374 votes. Why the Senate Democrats’ political operation apparently didn’t know about it, or did and declined to use it, is a mystery.
by Pat Rynard