I have been watching all this hullabaloo over whether or not Representative Steve Scalise (R, LA) is a closet white supremacist because he spoke one time to a group connected to notorious KKK member David Duke. Now, I am not a Scalise fan because he isn’t as conservative as I’d like, but in the end I have come down on his side. So, leave Steve Scalise alone, will you?
Scalise, the third in line of the GOP House leadership, got himself in trouble at the end of December when it got out in the media that back in 2002 he had given a speech to a gathering of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO). [Ed to add:or did he even do so?] While the name of the group sounds innocuous, the fact is the group was connected to white supremacist and notorious Klan member David Duke.
In fact, Duke himself joked that they created the name to sound innocuous on purpose so that they could mask their supremacist notions.
“I mean, ‘EURO’ definitely sounds like a human rights organization, which it was,” the famed Klan member said.
If you aren’t familiar with the notorious David Duke, he became news back in the 1980s when he got elected to the Louisiana State House of Reps as a Republican and did so trying to hide his true beliefs. But he ran as a Democrat before that and reclaimed his Democrat title after his one term in the State House, so in fact he’s always been a Democrat.
Regardless, he is toxic to any politician so when it came out that Scalise had spoken to one of the groups he was connected with, all heck broke lose on Scalise.
There are all sorts of ins and outs for Scalise on this business with Scalise ultimately saying he wasn’t fully aware that he was speaking to a group connected to David Duke. So far the Republican Party is standing by him and is not asking him to step down.
But several others are saying that the Party should force Scalise out. Two writers at Red State, for instance, say Scalise should be dumped. One said he should be dumped not for giving the speech but because he isn’t conservative enough. The chief cook and bottle washer of the site, Erick Erickson, had a hasher view. Erickson said that Scalise should be dumped because he was lying about not knowing it was a Duke-connected group and that appearing before such a group is a disqualifier.
Fortunately, Red State has little influence these days, so Erickson’s idea that the Party should dump Scalise over this business won’t get much traction–at least it won’t get traction just because he said it, anyway.
But calls are spreading and at least one Democrat has called for Scalise to step down, too, so that puts Erickson with the Democrats, apparently. Then again, conservative talk show host Sean Hannity also called for Scalise to step down.
But the fact seems to be that there isn’t anyone out there, even from among his enemies, saying that Scalise could be a closet racist. So, in the end no one believes the charge. Unlike with Trent Lott, it appears that claiming Scalise is a racist has no legs.
Ultimately, Scalise talked to this group one time, was never a member, and has no other connections to any other “racist” group. It really does look like Scalise and his staff just didn’t vet the group well enough back in 2002 and were treating them like any other community group. It seems pretty clear that this is a meaningless incident and Scalise should not be forced to step down over it.
Further, if the Democrats can proudly have Klan members, racebaiters, hatemongers, tax evaders, rapists and scumbags as members of high standing, the GOP should not be asking anyone to step down over this sort of silliness. Save the righteous indignation for real lapses (like the proper outrage over Mike Grimm’s tax evasion–an incident over which he rightfully resigned this week).
So, while I agree that Scalise isn’t as conservative as I’d like–and neither is anyone else in leadership–there simply is no proof at all that he is some sort of closet racist who should be drummed out of Congress.
So, it’s time to move on. Nothing here rises to the level of dumping Scalise. Leave Steve Scalise alone.