The first election where I got to pick a governor for Louisiana was between David Duke and Edwin Edwards in 1991. It’s a small wonder that I’ve never gotten too zazzed about voting.
This was just after Duke stopped being just Louisiana’s filthy secret and stepped out onto the national stage, In 1989 he screwed up: until then his primary source of income was running in and losing elections. In 1989, however, he inadvertently won an election and suddenly realized he might have to actually work. His victory got him nationwide notoriety, and he decided he liked attention more than he hated punching a clock, so he decided to aim for Baton Rouge instead. Fortunately, he lost to “the crook”. He then went back to regularly losing elections again, until he could make a living just plain getting money from racists by speaking and forming clubs with his friends.
One of those friends, at least tangentially, seems to be Republican Congressman Steve Scalise, who spoke at one of Duke’s events in 2002. There are a lot of things to be said about the shocking revelation that GOP talking points mixed well with racists, but what I’m getting the biggest kick out of is this particular excuse as to how this wacky mix-up happened.
When Scalise was asked by the Times-Picayune how he came to appear at the conference, he cited his staff, saying he had only one person working for him at the time. “When someone called and asked me to speak, I would go,” he said. “If I knew today what they were about, I wouldn’t go.”
Representative Steve King (R-IA) confirms this, saying, “understanding that Scalise probably wasn’t staffed thoroughly, I could understand how something like this happened”.
You see, the problem was, he had only one staff member at the time. This is seen as a legit excuse: how could he possibly know this was a bunch of neo-Nazis and they were bad? He only had one guy who could help him figure that out! I can’t think of someone I’d rather have in Congress than a guy who needs several handlers around him or else god knows what foolishness he’s likely to do. You see, the problem was, he had only one staff member at the time. “He only had one person to tell him White Supremacists are bad,” says his colleague. “You usually need at least five or six.” Presumably, after King finished defending Scalise’s integrity with this excuse, he was stopped by several aides from sticking his hand in a blender.
When Duke ran in 1991 we saw “DUKE Governor” signs everywhere, which was disheartening. Even moreso was after he lost, when the signs continued to appear, only now they read “DUKE Country”. That was the place where I came from, and all of us who were around then and remember it have had to carry that with them. Scalise is only three years older than me, so he for hell sure knows who David Duke is, even without a large staff to remind him.