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We're still passing the popcorn around while we watch House Majority Whip Steve Scalise's political career implode over the news that he spoke to a white supremacist group run by David Duke in 2002. We're still at that early stage of the Scandal Process where it looks like he's doomed, but damage control may still be possible, so let's see who's spinning what. Can this turd be polished?


Scalise himself is certainly busy buffing away, explaining that as a mere state legislator at the time, he had little staff and was just so intent on getting his budget-cutting fiscal responsibility message out to anyone who'd listen that, yes, maybe he got a bit overzealous about who he spoke to. He told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that he even spoke to some dodgy groups on the other side of the political spectrum, too:

I don’t support any of the things I have read about this group, but I spoke to a lot of groups during that period. I went all throughout South Louisiana.

I spoke to the League of Women Voters, a pretty liberal group … I still went and spoke to them. I spoke to any group that called, and there were a lot of groups calling.

You got your David Duke, and you got your League of Women Voters. It balances out. In any case, Scalise said, he definitely does not share any of those terrible racist ideas:

"I didn't know who all of these groups were and I detest any kind of hate group. For anyone to suggest that I was involved with a group like that is insulting and ludicrous," Scalise said.

So don't you dare insult him by suggesting that he knew who he was talking to. They were only a bunch of white people whose name clearly stated they were out to protect the rights of white people. With whiteness.

Newly adult serious person Erick Erickson is not having any of this "innocent mistake" nonsense, thank you very much. At RedState, Erickson scoffed -- SCOFFED, we say! -- at the very idea that Scalise could have spoken to a group run by David Duke and not known what that group was all about:

How do you not know? How do you not investigate? [...]

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?

Erickson also wrote that "the very GOP establishment now lining up behind Steve Scalise threw Chris McDaniel under the bus for speaking to a Sons of the Confederate Veterans event," although that seems a pretty selective interpretation of the party's preference for superannuated critter-diddler Thad Cochran over McDaniel. Yes, McDaniel did indeed pal around with neo-Confederates, but in the enormous fuck-tussle of the Mississippi Republican primary, that was only one of a slew of problems the "establishment" GOP had with McDaniel.

Iowa's Steve King (R-Cantaloupe) suggested to the Washington Post that maybe Scalise was just bringing the Good News of fiscal restraint to anyone who'd listen:

“Jesus dined with tax collectors and sinners,” King said. “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, it’s the sick. Given that piece of Scripture, and understanding that Scalise probably wasn’t staffed thoroughly, I could understand how something like this happened. But I know his heart, I’ve painted houses with him post-Katrina, and I know he is a good man.”

We suppose that's possible. Tell you what, rightwingers: You guys accept that Margaret Sanger's main motive for speaking to a KKK group in 1919 was that she was promoting women's empowerment through family planning to anyone who'd listen -- she spoke to several African-American groups on the same trip -- and maybe we'll consider the possibility that Scalise was just preaching the small government gospel to David Duke.

Speaking of whom, Mr. Duke has some thoughts on Scalise's visit to his group in 2002. Asked if he believed Scalise's claim that he had no idea he was addressing a white supremacist gathering, Duke had a beautifully self-pitying answer:

“It would seem likely he did know, but that doesn't mean that he did,” Duke, 64, said in a phone interview. “And if he had known, I can understand why his memory would fail him a little bit, because there is a McCarthyism today that is far more severe than anything of the McCarthy era.”

Poor David Duke. You burn a few crosses and call for the preservation of endangered white culture from the hordes of mud people just a few times, and suddenly everyone thinks you're a racist (as if that were even a bad thing).

Still, Duke acknowledged it's possible Scalise was fooled by his rebranding as the "European-American Unity and Rights Organization" (EURO): "I mean, 'EURO' definitely sounds like a human rights organization, which it was," he said. He also said that Scalise had been invited to speak by Kenny Knight, Duke's former campaign manager, and that it's likely that Scalise would have realized Knight's connection to Duke, but he also said it's possible that in the rush of giving multiple stump speeches, he genuinely didn't know. Besides, he'd never vote for Scalise anyway, because he "puts the interest of Israel over the interest of America.”

In any case, said Duke, it shouldn't matter that Scalise spoke to some white nationalists, because after all, George W. Bush spoke to the NAACP one time and it didn't hurt him at all. And yes, he fretted that Scalise was being thrown to a "lynch mob." Classy guy, that David Duke.

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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