Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise, the House whip, has admitted that “he spoke at a gathering hosted by white-supremacist leaders while serving as a state representative in 2002.” Dreher is unimpressed by the excuses:
I think it is possible that Scalise didn’t know what he was getting into when he agreed to appear at this thing, but once you get there and realize that you are at a David Duke event, you leave. Period. There is no excuse for staying there — and it’s impossible to believe that Scalise remained ignorant of Duke’s sponsorship of the event until after he left. Did he send out a press release repudiating the group and saying he had been hoodwinked into speaking there? Doesn’t seem like it.
Do I think Scalise is a white supremacist? No, not at all. But he was insufficiently disgusted by associating with the most notorious racist and anti-Semite in the country. I don’t see how he stays in GOP leadership with this on his record.
Erick Erickson moved out of Louisiana because he was disgusted by David Duke:
By 2002, everybody knew Duke was still the man he had claimed not to be. EVERYBODY. How the hell does somebody show up at a David Duke organized event in 2002 and claim ignorance?
Weigel digs into the story:
Scalise was on the record attacking Duke for that 1999 race. “The novelty of David Duke has worn off,” Scalise told Roll Call‘s John Mercurio. “The voters in this district are smart enough to realize that they need to get behind someone who not only believes in the issues they care about, but also can get elected.”
That phrase—”who not only believes in the issues they care about”—seemed innocuous enough at the time. In 2014, after Scalise has won five easy elections to the House (he took Governor Bobby Jindal’s vacant seat in a 2008 special), it’s being read as evidence that Scalise did not condemn Duke nearly enough.
Ezra weighs in:
Scalise might well have ended up at the David Duke-backed European-American Unity and Rights Organization without knowing who they were or really bothering to find out. He might well have been trying to destroy Duke by questioning his electability rather than his views. But that’s only because he was practiced at appealing to the kind of people who really did support David Duke and really were sympathetic to the European-American Unity and Rights Organization. And, now that Scalise has risen through Louisiana politics to become a nationally influential figure, that’s the problem.
The biggest question for Scalise’s future is whether there’s anything else. Now that Scalise’s speech to EURO has been found, and his comments about David Duke unearthed, political reporters are going to go looking for more. If this is the end of it, Scalise might be fine. If it isn’t, then his career is in jeopardy.
PM Carpenter is enjoying the circus:
One can believe whatever one wants to believe about Scalise’s defense of know-nothingness, but one cannot deny the hilarity of the Washington Post’s magnificent understatement: “The news [of Scalise having addressed a white-supremacist, Neo-Nazi, KKK-associated, David Duke-founded group] could complicate Republican efforts to project the sense of a fresh start for a resurgent, diversifying party.”
Nearly as funny and equally unhelpful to Scalise’s defense is the amicus brief uttered by Iowa’s Rep. Steve King, who blathered to the Post that “Jesus dined with tax collectors and sinners. It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, it’s the sick.” A lofty comparison indeed, however the point of King’s parable is that Jesus knew he was dining with sinners (unless, of course, he was inadequately staffed).