Circus act convenes in Iowa

Call him the ringmaster. That would be Congressman Steve King of Iowa, the Republicans’ leading critic of immigration reform and the individual hosting something called the Iowa Freedom Summit.

It should be a showcase for what’s left of the Republican Party’s intellectual heft. There’s still plenty left, but the party’s center-stage attention has been hijacked by some seriously radical individuals — such as Rep. King.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is there, along with Donald Trump, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Dr. Ben Carson and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. But … all is not lost here. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also is there and I count Christie among the grownups of the party, a guy prone to actually thinking rationally and reasonably.

He’s no doubt going to trot out his conservative credentials to the summit attendees because, well, he’s thinking of running for president next year and the starting point in the campaign is in Iowa, where those GOP caucuses are dominated by the evangelical Christian wing of the party.

The news out of the Iowa event has been twofold: Palin and Trump both have expressed “serious” interest in running for the White House in 2016. Seriously. They’re thinking about it.

Look, the more the merrier. That’s how I see it. Neither of them is a legitimate contender for the presidency of the world’s greatest nation. By my count, I see maybe two individuals at this summit who should be taken seriously: the aforementioned Christie and Scott Walker.

The other serious candidates-in-waiting — Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul — aren’t there. Why? Because they’ve all staked out moderate positions here and there that just don’t comport with the far right wing of the party.

The ringmaster, King, is playing this event beautifully — I will acknowledge. He’s getting a lot of attention and, by golly, he’s getting that GOP base all fired up.

Let the fun continue.