Nel's New Day

January 5, 2015

Steve Scalise Scandal, White Supremacy

Fox network is well-known its unfair and unbalanced view of events, lying to protect conservatives and excoriate everyone else. A rare exception to this channel policy came from Greta Van Susteran when she criticized Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) for lacking the “moral courage” to resign from his third-place leadership position as Majority Whip in the U.S. House. Debates have swirled throughout the country for the past week after it was revealed that Scalise was the keynote speaker at a convention of the white supremacist, hate group European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO) in 2002, invited by the efforts of KKK Grand Wizard David Duke.

Scalise’s excuse for his speech was that he had no idea about the beliefs of EURO and didn’t know that Duke was connected to the organization. His talk, however, was targeted to a specific audience because it focused on how government programs favor minorities over white people. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said that Scalise could keep the position as Majority Whip because he had apologized (in the usual, “it was a mistake I regret”) and because the event was 12 years ago. Evidently, that is the statute of limitations for wrong-doing from one Republican to another.

Van Susteran pointed out that the support for the KKK by the third most powerful GOP member of the House sent a bad message to everyone except the conservative white voters:

“I don’t know if it’s fair to Scalise or not fair to Scalise, but associating with David Duke is grossly unwise. Everyone knows who David Duke is. I realized this was 12 years ago. But if you want to send a message to the American people, the Republicans and Democrats, this would have been the opportunity to say he should step aside, whether it’s fair or not, and send a message that we’re not going to have this distraction, we really do want to have everybody on board.”

Trying to protect Scalise, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) compared Scalise to Jesus because of the congressman’s nobility in sitting down with these evil-doers, just as Jesus would have done. Scalise’s actions were very positive, according to King, because he was helping “the sick,” something that King actually fiercely opposes through his policies against Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.

In 1999, while considering a run for U.S. representative from Louisiana, Scalise said that he “embraces many” of Duke’s “conservative” views. Being the keynote speaker for a racist group is not Scalise’s only openness about his opposition to civil rights. He voted against the Martin Luther King holiday twice. In 1999, Scalise was one of just three “no” votes on a Martin Luther King holiday measure, and five years later, he was one of just six Louisiana legislators who opposed King holiday legislation, versus 90 state House members who supported it. Other GOP leaders have also voted against the holiday, but recanted. Former Vice President Dick Cheney (R) changed his mind in 1983 and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in 1999. Scalise clung to his opposition into the 21st century.

As a state legislator elected from the same precincts where Duke was once strong, Scalise voted against legislation to establish protections for victims of hate crimes based on race. He is also connected to the Family Research Council, another hate group.

The GOP has struggled with bigotry among its members. Trent Lott lost his position as Senate Majority Leader after his 2002 praise for Strom Thurmond’s 1948 segregationist platform. Boehner called King an “a**hole” for the Iowan’s racial views on Latino immigrants. Last year, the GOP establishment rejected Chris McDaniel during his Senate campaign in Mississippi because of the candidate’s role at a neo-Confederate and pro-secessionist conference.

Scalise is also not Boehner’s first struggle with wrong-doing by GOP House members. Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), left in 2010 after an affair with a staffer, and the next year Boehner told Rep. Chris Lee (R-NY) to leave after trying to meet women through the Craigslist personals. Last year, after Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA) was filmed kissing a married staffer, not his own wife, then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) called for McAllister’s resignation. The most recent departure came last week following Boehner’s meeting with newly-elected Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) after he pleaded guilty in December 2014 to a felony tax evasion.

The standards for being forced out of the House seem fuzzy, but evidently adultery, not illegal, is unethical, but speaking with radical racist groups is acceptable for the GOP leadership. Hitting on women online ends a career, but friendly relationships with neo-Nazis works in a person’s favor.

David Duke, who Scalise once praised for his political views, is unhappy about the possibility that Scalise could lose his new position. Livid that the “Zionist” media and the GOP are concerned about Scalise’s speech, Duke threatens to reveal names of other politicians who have secret ties with Duke if the GOP turns on Scalise. Duke has called Scalise “a fine family man” with whom he often agrees. According to Duke, Scalise gave his speech at the convention via a teleconference in Russia and discussed his conspiracy theory about how “Israeli treachery” was involved in the 9/11 attacks.

A political advisor to David Duke, Kenny Knight, claimed that Scalise spoke to a civil group, not EURO and denied any involvement with Duke’s organization. Yet public records showed that Knight was an officer in EURO at one time.

Scalise is now the pick of the House GOP caucus to lead them in their new role in the 114th Congress totally controlled by Republicans. If he stays in that position, he represents the GOP party. It also might be a party that is afraid of Duke’s revelations, meaning that Duke is partly in control of the GOP.

Whites will be the minority in the United States in the year 2042. Steve Scalise is 49 years and could see his race become a minority during his lifetime. That’s something that Republicans might want to think about in picking leaders connected to white supremacists.

Republican leaders had hoped that silence will make the Scalise scandal blow over, but continuing publicity is damaging the congressman’s reputation. Other GOP legislators are forced to defend his actions, and the toxicity is growing, with doubts about fundraising for GOP candidates who support his past behavior. Editorials in hometown newspapers of these legislators aer calling for Scalise to step down. Another question is whether Scalise can be successful in persuading lawmakers to support the House GOP agenda, especially in the growing divisiveness of the GOP members of the House. Conservative activists like Mark Levin, Erick Erickson, and Sarah Palin want him out of GOP leadership.

His continued part of the leadership leaves the GOP open to criticism as shown by the White House’s press secretary, Josh Earnest when he said that it “says a lot about what the [GOP] Conference’s priorities and values are” that Scalise has remained in leadership. Earnest twice repeated a Scalise quote from before he was in Congress that he is like former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke “without the baggage.”

Senior Democratic officials think that the Scalise scandal could be worth millions of dollars in donations from their own supporters and sent out a press release to 30 GOP-held districts asking whether that member will “stand behind Scalise despite Scalise’s past rallying voters at white supremacists rallies?”

At this time, Boehner is sticking to his guns, and Scalise is maintaining silence, refusing almost all interview requests and no longer lobbying colleagues for support. Boehner actually benefits from Scalise’s problems because the Louisiana representative might have defeated Boehner for House Speaker.

The 114th Congress starts tomorrow, and a Majority Whip cannot continue to avoid the media. If Scalise keeps the position, protests will weaken, but the message will always be present.

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